What am I doing?
Hi there: I used to have a lot of trouble baking sourdough, and eventually, by accident, I figured it out, and am now able to consistently bake a well risen, lightweight, tasty, naturally risen bread.
My overall technique differs from everything out there, though, which leads me to wonder what am I making, or what am I doing?
All of the bread "recipes" I read are simply some variation of flour, a hydration, salt, and then a sourdough/starter/levain, which is combined, fermented, baked, and enjoyed :)
My process differs from almost everything I read in books and interwebs in that I build and use a much larger starter: it ranges 40-65% of total flour, depending upon hydration of final dough, so maybe it's a poolish or biga or something. Compare this to most of the recipes which range 10-20%! Of course, I adapt the timing to properly ferment the bread (bulk and final proof). Here's an example of what worked well for me, using #s:
100% hydration starter: 150g
Autolyse without salt for 30 minutes, mix on med for 4-8 minutes, bulk for 2-2.5 hours with occasional folds, proof for 2-3 hours (or 20 minutes, then fridge for 8-16 hours), bake. I measure dough temps, in order to plan on timing.
The breads I've tried making with smaller starter % end up being a bit denser, not as lightweight, smaller crumb - still taste good, in fact, almost no difference compared to the above. Since this large starter percentage works very well, I will of course, keep using it, and it's not difficult converting others' recipes into this for me. It has the added benefit that it works quite well with my daily schedule.
Despite this, it still leads me to wonder, what am I doing? Why aren't others using the higher % starter?