starter refusing complete cooperation?
My main problem is that my doughs won't rise. They're too dense and gummy. Crust is always beyond delicious, but the inside... bad.
My baby is ca 5 weeks old. I keep it at room temperature, and feed it every 12 hours. Generally I feed 1:1:5:1.5, at 8am, and 8pm. It'll peak at around 6pm. Depending on the temperature outside, I may feed more (1:2:2). I live in the SF Bay area, on the coast, where it never gets much past 63 in summer, but the afternoon sun can heat the house up nonetheless. I bake every 4 days. So far, I've tried no knead breads for which I prepared the dough in the evening, and baked in the morning. I'd try to time it that the starter would peak at around 6pm. Depending on the temperature, I'd speed it up or slow it down by putting it in the warm micro wave or in a cooler room as needed, to have it be ready at 6pm. This means the temps could vary from 66 through 75.
I use 100% hydration, white bread flour, with unchlorinated water. I use it for dough mixing just after it won't rise no more, has tripled, domed, is bubbly and is beginning to dimple. Everything except the smell seems just like in the books. It definitely gets yeastier throughout the 10-12 hours; but it's not a very strong yeasty smell. Sometimes it even has a smell I can't quite describe. Not altogether unpleasant, I guess a bit like stinky cheese, but weird. No idea whether this is a good thing.
(After mixing the dough, I let it sit overnight at room temp, and it definitely seems to have doubled. Even after one s+f and letting if final proof, as instructed by the recipe, it rises some. Poke test goes ok. (my woes with baking this particular recipe is subject of another thread--in this thread, I'd love input as to whether the starter may be the culprit of my products' density). Clearly the starter does something, it's just not enough.)
I have a feeling that it would be better to have the starter feed at a consistent higher temp like 72-75 and have the ratio such that the temp doesn't need to be manipulated at all. Is that correct? As opposed to "cooling" it down to 66-68 to slow it down and "heating" it up to speed it along? I only do this sometimes, not as a rule. I don't have the timing down pat yet.
One thing I haven't tried is to feed it more so that it actually peaks after 12 hours. Right now it peaks after ca 10.
Nights are obviously cooler. I stick it in the microwave with the light on and the door slightly ajar so it's at 71 when it first goes in there at 8pm and when I get up, at 7am, it's usually down to 64. Would it be better if the temp were consistent here, too?