Help! No Rise During Bulk Fermentation
Hi TFL-ers. I'm new here and was finally moved to post after a series of failures with my Tartine loaves. I successfully baked Tartine loaves for years, then took a break after my son was born. Now I'm back at it, but all of my loaves have been flat as pancakes.
My new starter seems pretty active. I feed it equal parts (by weight) ww flour and water, morning and night. It doubles (or more) in about 8 hours at warm room temp. When risen, it is full of bubbles and seems very aerated.
When I make my levain, it also seems active, and passes the float test after about 8-10 hours at warm room temp.
When I add my levain to the dough for the bulk fermentation, however, everything comes to a grinding halt. While I do see some bubbles form on the surface of the dough, I am seeing very little rise, if any. I have tried extending the bulk fermentation to as much as 12+ hours, but ended up with a soupy mess instead of dough. I have tried reducing the bulk fermentation to see if perhaps I'm exhausting the yeast with a too-long rise, and got dense, unleavened loaves.
I don't think temperature is the problem, as I have used a proofing box (an old cooler tricked out with a thermostat and a 30W bulb) to maintain a temp of about 80 degrees, and still saw the same results. I have also tried bulking on my kitchen counter and on top of the water heater. Same results each time.
Any thoughts on what could be causing this? I am so puzzled as to how I could have an apparently active starter and then fail to leaven any of my loaves.
Some thoughts that occur to me:
1. I'm feeding my starter 100% ww flour. The levain is 50% ww flour. The dough, however, is only 10% ww flour. Is it possible that my starter has been trained to only do well with a high percentage of ww flour?
2. I'm using coarse kosher salt, whereas I usually used fine salt in the past. Is it possible the coarse salt is dissolving later during the bulk and messing with fermentation?
Thanks in advance for your replies. I'm loving this community!