Sourdough Bread Concepts & Summary
I'm new to posting on the Fresh Loaf but I've searched this site quite a bit for tips and ideas. I'm looking to create a brand-new recipe for gluten-free sourdough bread and I was hoping some people on this forum more experienced than I am can help me sort through some sourdough theory. I've read lots of forum posts and blogs (Sourdough Home, Breadtopia, The Art of Gluten-free Baking) and I've successfully created a starter. Baking the actual bread is another thing. My most recent sourdough boule is in the garbage can right now, a sad, flat, lumpy disc of gooey dough. I am encouraged, though, that the failed loaves I've made have had some redeeming qualities either in a nice, tart sourdough taste or in some great rise (before it then sank).
Right now I'm just trying to sort through conflicting information to get to a good strategy. Here are a few sourdough concepts I've listed out that I'm hoping is a good and accurate summary of how to approach creating the type of sourdough loaf I want to make. Please correct any statement that is inaccurate or add any tips that you have!
I like a sour taste. To get a loaf nice and sour, you should:
- Have longer ferments
- Start the dough with less starter, more flour
- Possibly retard the rise
- Use starter after it has already gone through its most active phase and is starting to recede
For a faster rise/more leavening action:
- Use the starter just before its most active phase, about 1/2 hour before its peak
For a less sour loaf:
- Use the starter before it has peaked
- Use more starter in the recipe, less flour
- Ferment it for less time
My previous loaves all collapsed either in the oven or after they came out. I should try:
- Smaller boules
- Lower hydration
- Use starter before its peak
- Don't proof it so long
Question: I have seen a "mature starter" defined in several very different ways.
1. A starter that has been active for at least several months.
2. A starter that is just past the peak in its feeding cycle.
3. A starter that has been sitting out at room temperature for 1-2 days without being fed.
Are all of these an appropriate use of the term "mature starter"? If so, how do I know what a recipe means when it calls for "mature starter"?
Thanks for any thoughts you might have!