Getting the best flavor while using the easiest method for managing a starter
I've changed how I make my sourdough bread and I am getting a great flavor boost. Ironically, it is also the easiest method for managing my starters. Can anyone say preferment or poolish?
144g AP flour (any kind of flour,really) (about 1 cup)
225 g water (about 1 cup)
50 g starter (about 100% hydration) (about 2-3 tbsp) I take it right from the refrigerator-see below.
Mix well in a 4 cup container,cover it and let sit on counter overnight (my ambient room temp is about 65-70F).Use within 24 hours in any bread recipe. I would use all the preferment in any of my bread recipes which typically caledl for 3-4 cups (300-500g)flour.
I have used this to make WW,french bread,fruited bread and rye bread. Works well as a standard poolish/preferment. My French bread has never tasted better!
I am standardizing my recipes to weighed (rather than scooped) ingredients and to use this as a standard preferment. That way I can make the preferments up in the evening and decide what to bake the next day. If I change my mind (such as when someone requests a favorite), I can still bake that day. No special preferment required (though I have adapted it by using other flours or liquids).
For the starter side:
I now have a 4 fl. oz jar for my starter and it is about 3/4 full at any given time (maybe 200g??). I bake 2-3 batches a week (2 loaves ea) so every weekend I use most of my starter.To feed, I simply add flour/water to a thick batter consistency to the remainder in the jar,allow to rise on the counter for a few hours and put it back in the refrigerator. If I don't bake, I discard half and feed as described. But because it is such a small amount I have very little discard. (I know!I know! I am definitely not precise when I do this. Maybe someday I'll start actually weighing ingredients for the starter.)
My recipes used to call for 1/2-1 cup of active starter for every 2 loaf batch. It was such a hassle to manage that amount of starter. This is so much easier and the preferment really kicks up the flavor. It did work with a starter that had a layer of hootch (I have multiple starters that are getting pared down). I wanted to see if it would work. Developed a great preferment right from the refrigerator-just poured off the hootch!
So maybe this will be useful for someone else. I am always amazed at how the simple things make such a big difference and how long it takes me to figure out the simple way! :)
Have delicious fun!