Using starter/preferment - too soon or too late. Does it matter?
I have been baking for over a year, with a fair amount of success – by and large my loaves meet with approval. But People do remark and I have noticed that they appear more dense and chewy than other sourdough loaves. That is not seen as a negative , but an observation . Though they do rise reasonably they are not the sort of large light loaves that you sometimes get. But they are flavorful and delicious.
The other thing is that sometimes there are darker areas that obviously haven't cooked as much or perhaps they haven't risen as much. I suspect that perhaps I am using the starter and pre-ferment either sooner or later than the optimal . So here is a question, if a starter rises and then sinks, has it gone too far? Is the important thing that it is used at exactly the right moment and that if it rises and then sinks that is not ideal? I have never managed to pass the float test, but that has not prevented delicious loaves, but perhaps I use the starter/pre-ferment too late? I have been puzzling over this for a long time .
I’d be very grateful if anyone has any insights.