CONFUSED! mother starter vs starter vs ??? (how to use)
Hi all... first post!!
anyway... I have a backyard WFO now, and living in Berkeley am lucky enough to have world class bread available around the corner. But making my own stuff is fun, so instead of just pizza thought I'd try some bread.
So I got some sourdough culture for sourdo.com and got his book, AND I have Rhinehart's Artisan Breads Every Day. I'm seeing confusing things in both, and the language is a bit cryptic and abbreviated, so some help appreciated, sorry if this is super basic.
From Rhinehart I did the pinapple juice/flour trick, and over about 10days now have made what he calls the 'mother starter' which is dough-like, in a ball in my fridge.
Separately, I've gotten my culture from sourdo.com going over a month or so, following his instructions about feeding every 12-24 hrs, and then 'washing' if I let it sit in the fridge too long. The result is a pancake batter consistency material in the fridge which I can wake up in about a day or two if needed. Is this a 'mother starter' also?
I'm confused because then Rhinehart talks about taking the mother starter, then adding a small amt of flour/water to make a 'preferment' (I guess), waiting yet again 4-8hrs, then finally making the reall dough with that starter. Why this extra step?? With so many steps I'm about to forget it and go down and continue getting super excellent Acme bread!
(BTW, I do autolyse my dough, then refrigerate for at least 48hrs, so it is a long cold ferment.)
In fact I have tried using some of the sourdo.com mother starter straight up (randomly guessing how much I need) and had some luck making a boule or two. Good crumb, but flexy crust... not good enough.
-are these two both 'mother starters'?
-can I just use the mother starter assuming it hasnt been in the fridge too long? can I skip the preferment?
-what amt or baker's percent should I shoot for on the starter? Is it a matter of taste?
-after the cold ferment, should I leave the boules out for as long as it takes to get some decent rise, BEFORE considering baking?
-should I add a small amt of commercial yeast (what %?) to 'cheat' and get that puff after the cold ferment?
Thanks y'all for any answers, just trying to understand the conflicts in the stuff I've read!