So I decided that after maintaining my starter for almost a year now and being pretty satisfied with it, that I was confused about what I was doing. I've read so many different refreshment ratios for starters that it made me doubt my own, so I split it up to try a new one. Usually I do a 2:1:1 (starter:flour:water) to double it. By the way my starter takes on slightly different forms from time to time. For no particular reason other than I haven't developed a favorite I'll either feed it wheat flour, clear flour or bread flour. Recently I came across directions for a 1:3:2 refreshment and then a 1:2:2 and shouldn't there be a 1:1:1 in there somewhere? I don't know. I figure since all these ratios called for less starter than I use, perhaps I was starving mine a little. So I experimented by using Daniel Leader's recipe for Quintessential French Sourdough. I split up my starter into two batches and put one on a 1:3:2 diet and kept the other on 2:1:1. They both did just fine until I made the final dough when the 1:3:2 became very slow. A lot slower than its brother. It ended up not rising as much as the 2:1:1 (which took about six hours) during bulk fermentation but after about ten hours I had had enough and shaped it anyway. So this is what I got:
The 1:3:2 is on the left. The 2:1:1 is on the right.
And the crumb (same positioning):
My old 2:1:1 definately won out. It tasted milder and a little better in my opinion. I don't know...I'm still a little weary. I still have to try the 1:2:2 which sounds a little more promising. I know that its been working ok the whole time I've had it so I should just leave well enough alone right? But I really think it can do better with a different approach somehow. Its always a little in the warm area, never bad never outstanding, just pretty good, when it comes to preformance and taste.
A really fun side thing that amounted from all of this was that I had so much trash starter from the experiment that I decided to do a second experiment and see what would happen if I put all my throw-away starter and scraps in a bowl a then in the oven. I used it as shaping practice for the most part. That was pretty fun and here's what arose out of that:
A connected braid and an epi.
And the crumb:
I thought that these came out really great, much better than I expected...until I tasted them. Oh man, where they ever bad. For one I didn't put any salt in them and for two...well two should be obvious...it was meant to be trash. It was fun though. I dig the shaping practice thing.