FWSY Levain Issue.. Help please!
I’ve been reading this forum for the past few weeks since I picked up Ken Forkish’s FWSY. I love the book and from the start successfully made every loaf of bread I’ve tried. When it comes to the Pure Levain breads, I’m failing miserably.
I followed the recipe exactly, accounting for ambient temp, and it turned into soup. Smelly, awful soup. I then scrapped it and started reading. I found that the water in my area has a lot of chlorine (and very impure, which brought in bad bacteria). I then started realizing I don’t have to use the huge amount of waste that Forkish calls for, but adjust so I don’t waste as much.
Day 1 - I started a Levain with 250g KAF WWF and 250g 90° filtered water. Stored in oven with the light on.
Day 2 - Discarded all but 50g of Levain, added 200g WWF, 200g water.
Day 3 - It smelled like vomit. It was terrible. I read and apparently this was fine, just keep feeding. Discarded all but 50g, add 200g WWF and Water.
Day 4 - Still smelled like death. Repeated the feeding.
Day 5 - Opened it up and was surprised that it smelled like overripe fruit and yeast, what I read I should be looking for. It had tripled in size since the day before, almost coming out of the container. I then switched the feeding to (per FWSY) 50g Levain, 50g WWF, 200g APF, 200g Filtered Water.
Day 6 - The mixture had more than doubled in the container. I fed it in the late morning the same as day 6, and wanted to bake a bread in the late afternoon (per the instructions). I did the Overnight Country Blonde in the afternoon, after the levain had doubled (7-9 hours later per the book). I left it in my oven with the light off overnight.
Day 7 - Morning of! I was so excited. I came downstairs, opened the oven... flat. It was a soupy mess, no rise. I chalked it up to maybe being too warm and the acid killing it at some point and maybe over fermenting. I threw it away, fed my Levain the same as day 5/6 and moved on.
Day 8 - Tried the same thing, my Levain has doubled by morning, I fed it, and made the dough in the late afternoon. I put a camera on it to monitor the process (time lapse). To my surprise, it stayed flat. Did nothing, again! So I didn’t want to waste another thing of flour. At hour 9 (Forkish says to do a 12-15 hour bulk ferment at 65° - 70° ambient temp, which my house is at) I decided to throw in yeast and save it. After adding yeast it rose, and it’s proofing now. I’ll see if it works.
So that’s where I’m at. I’m gun shy to even bake a loaf of bread, as I don’t know what I’m looking for. As many of you have noted, Forkish is kind of vague on what to look for in a mature Levain that will raise a dough.
I still have my Levain, I’ll feed it tomorrow, but I just want advice. I also started a rye starter per The Perfect Loafs instructions at https://www.theperfectloaf.com/7-easy-steps-making-incredible-sourdough-starter-scratch/. Just want to really get through all the recipes in FWSY the way Forkish intended! I’m weird like this and want to.
Many advice is greatly appreciated! Thank you in advance, sorry for my amateurness.