Am I as “SourDumb” with my Sourdough Starter as I think? Help!
I am new here and to baking in general. I have been using Peter Reinhart's The Bread Bakers Apprentice for about a month and have been successful baking Whole Wheat, Light Whole Wheat and French Bread as well as the awesome pizza crust! Now I have decided to try his sourdough starter recipe but I don't seem to be getting the proper results.
My process went like this: First, I followed the 4-day process to a tee and am not sure that I ever saw the starter double. It bubbled some but never "doubled." I tried to "feed" it a bit more after day 4 but got frustrated and tossed the batch. :-(
Next, I decided to start over - thinking that I just did not have much yeast in the air in my home. So, I threw in some grapes on days 1-3 and removed them when I added feeding ingredients. On day 3, I saw a pretty hefty rise but not what I would call a "doubling" in size, so I continued with the process until about day 5. It sat and bubbled a bit but never seemed to rise so, on day 5 I halved the batch and added some more flour and water to feed it. On Day 6, it is now the consistency of a thick pancake batter and has lots of tiny bubbles in it when you look in the top of the jar. It smells very close to what I think Sourdough should smell like - BUT IT DID NOT DOUBLE at all after Day 3 or so. This time, I decided to put it in the fridge, sealed, and regroup rather than throw it out right away.
What am I doing wrong? I really think I may have a good seed culture at this point, primarily because it smells quite nice and there ARE bubbles. Is the fact that the starter is very "wet" keeping it from rising? Should I throw it out and start over or is this culture usable for a Barm. I'm not even really sure of the difference between a Barm, a Starter or a Seed Culture anyway! I am very confused and worried that I may poison my family and myself if the starter is "off" at all (I know it sounds stupid but I've never done this before).
Thanks in advance for your comments.
-Gonzo the "baker"