Divide to Conquer !
So, as usual, I find myself searching through the forums for more wisdom on how to control the intensity of the sour punch delivered by my numerous iterations of a Poilane-clone, a lofty ideal that I've been chasing since my first encounter in le Marais this past April while in Paris for the Marathon de Paris (an encounter that was followed by I-don't-know-how-many repeat trips to the various locations throughout the city).
Since then, I've become more attached to my sourdough starter and obsessed with the quest for the perfect loaf. However, I've noticed a great deal of variance in the sourness of my breads: it seems that temperature and time are the greatest role players in both cases (an increase in either typically yielding an increase in sourness), but--alas!--I often find both of these things outside of my control. New England weather is a crap-shoot, and my life is so littered with vagaries that timing often gets in the way of my being able to allow my loaf to fully develop and mature before being sent off into the inferno of my oven.
I read a really interesting post from a while back from Alpine, who mentioned something about dividing up some starter into two camps, 2-3 days prior to baking: one portion to be fed regularly in order to sustain and encourage yeast activity; the other, to be starved to encourage lactobacillus takeover. This division seems to make sense, and I'm looking forward to using it. But, I have a couple of questions:
1. Should I return the portion of starter meant for lactobacillus development to the fridge for the 2-3 days?, or do I keep it at room temperature?
2. Should the yeasty portion of the starter be built-up gradually from small to large, or should there be discards? If there are regular discards, should these discards be added to the lactobacillus starter, or stored separately?
If anyone else uses the Divide and Conquer process described by Alpine here: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/12969/startersourness-question , I'd be happy to get some delicious insight. Thanks in advance.
Bake on !