Three months in...
So I'm about three months into my sourdough "experiment", have my starter (I call him Niles) nicely sour and thriving. Having tried a number of recipes, my biggest problem has been consistency. The nice thing about making bread... one dollar experiments.
In any case, recently I've been managing a high-hydration poolish and have had some nice results. While the recipe calls for using the slap and fold method (did try it, arms fell off), I find that using my kitchenaid for half the process heps a lot and gets me what I'm looking for (pretty much). Slightly less open crumb, but that's ok. Different variations, added up to 100g of wheat flour that makes a nice loaf. I tend to like my bread a little tangy so I augment with some citric acid, which I like.
In any case, consistency. Dough issues, I've had rise issues, over-rising and really determining when the poolish is ready to work with makes a big difference. In this recipe, I started the poolish (1-1-1 ratio by weight) and after about 4hrs began to work with it. No additional yeast added, did the kitchenaid for ten minutes then a couple of tuck and folds. Repeat every ten minutes up to three times and I've got a pretty good gluten structure. Rise 2hrs, tuck and fold again and then rise another hour.
I want a dutch oven but I'm broke right now, so I got this idea. I use a cast iron skillet, then steam the oven. What you see here is that product, works amazingly well. The skillet really seems to help with oven spring, it just jumps up. The steam first ten minutes works well, at 425 for 40 minutes this is what I got: