Seem to be going backwards......
Hi, brand new to the forum, pretty new to baking! Started baking bread 2 years ago using NYT no knead bread recipe and dutch oven. 1st one was pretty average, but since then I've been getting nice boules with great crust (crunchy, thick) and crumb (lots of big holes!). Decided to step it up a notch and begin using sourdough.
Ordered Italian sourdough starter from Sourdough Intl. It activated great, have been feeding it daily. Starter seems consistently foamy and reliable after 2 weeks of feeding daily--1/2 in fridge as backup, other half fed daily sits on counter.
Have now baked 4 loaves with so-so success. First loaf I prepared following the basic sourdough recipe in the book "Classic Sourdoughs." Mixed and kneaded by hand, let dough proof 10 hours at 70 degrees. Poured out of bowl, let rest 30 mins, shaped boule, let loaf proof for 4 hours at 70 degrees, scored loaf, and baked in cast iron dutch oven pre-heated to 475. Baked with lid on for 20 mins, and another 20 with lid off. Loaf turned out ok--not nearly as good a crumb or crust as the No Knead bread recipe, and at least 30% "flatter." Very good flavor though...!
Since then, similar issues--I'm just not getting a very good crumb--much too dense. I tried the cold oven start suggested in the "Classic Sourdough" book, but got even worse results. I've recently tried substituting 1 cup of local organic hard white wheat flour out of the 3.5 cup recipe, and while the dough rises well the loaf rise/proof is poor t0 mediocre.
I really like the idea of using sourdough starter instead of commercial yeast, but so far I'm having very mixed results.......Any advice would be greatly appreciated!!!