San Francisco starter
Here is my first report on the differences between my starters. First, let me introduce the key players: I have named my old starter Otis, after the Oregon Trail Starter obtained from Friends of Carl. My new starter is the one I was gifted in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago, now named Franco. Franco had been a thriving culture in SF for, oh, many years? before a chunk was ripped from his side (ala Eve from Adam) apparently at full rise, and dropped in a small container to aid in transportation. This happened in the middle of a warm sunny day when I had no chance of chilling him for hours. Later that evening I did refrigerate him over night, then had to again keep him at warm sunny day temps for the whole of the next day, refridge at night, then another half day in a warm car until I got him home. By then he was smellin' ripe! I did the right thing and fed him, the first in at least two days, and he seemed just fine. It was then that I announced on this site that I had him and intended to compare him to Otis. It was a week and a half before I could bake with him.<!--break-->
Last Friday I built up a batch of dough, but my daughter missed the sign saying bread was rising in the oven and turned it on to bake something for herself, turning on the smoke alarms in the house and ending the life of the dough, the newly fed starter and nearly flaming my new wicker banneton. Oh well, I had saved out a small portion of the original starter and so began anew. Yesterday I baked the first loaf of SF sourdough. But I had let it ferment the first time too long and it had nothing to rise the dough with. This was a surprise. BTW, the bread tasted just like SF sourdough, even though it was pretty dense and had no good hole structure. It geletanized well and showed it had fermented sufficiently, in terms of PR's BBA.
So let me talk about the differences already apparent. Otis will rise in starter to 3 or 4 times original size, a dough to at least 3 times original size. I have done a total of 3 ferments in a dough without signs of fatigue. His timing is perfect, I can refresh him for next week when I bake on the weekend, put him in the fridge and forget about him until next week when he will have risen to double and be patiently waiting to make more bread, and all I do is build him to the size I want in one feeding, then make the dough. He makes excellent bread with no particularly interesting tastes to brag about, just clean, clear tasty bread. No complaints, except perhaps that he doesn't lend any real sourness to the bread. There is a mildly sour backtaste, but everyone comments that it's not 'sour' enough.
Then there's Franco. This boy is really different. When I said he was ripe by the time I got home, he smelled just like Boudin's bread on the wharf, and sour. I was so excited. Now, well fed, there is that same smell but not like used gym-socks-pungent (I mean that in a good way). He won't rise in starter form past about 2 - 2.25 times original size, and won't do multiple rises in dough form. He hit right about double in dough form and stopped. That's alright by me, but now I have to adher to a stricter schedule, I can't count on slopping by with an hour over and expect to save the dough. Also, when he goes into the autolyzed flour and water, he looks and acts wetter than Otis would, when making dough. He kneads up fine, but when I add the salt, he goes slack again and won't tighten bach up. I must admit at this point that I did change the salt, so it could be that. I decided to use sea salt instead of Morton's table. Does anybody know if that would make a difference, using the same measure amounts?
Well, right now I have a two loaf batch chilling in the fridge over night to bake up tomorrow so I will see how it goes. But at this point I know this: there is a whole heck of a lot more flavor from Franco than Otis, not that I mind Otis. In fact my wife likes Otis bread better than Franco, but she will eat Franco's. But when I started making sourdough, I too was disappointed in the lack of sour, as some of you have said also. Not when using Franco so far. Tomorrow will give me more data on that, but boy, is Franco's first loaf much more sour!
At this point I expect to keep both boys going, using Franco for sour sourdough, Otis for mild sourdough and rye. I will try Franco in my favorite country sourdough rye but he might be too sour for that. We'll see.
That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it,