I would like to make a confession...
Do any of you share this dilemma? Please don't be afraid to speak up.
I must confess that when I ask questions like:
"Is there more yeast in a firm starter than a wet starter?"
And I get a thoughtful and well planned out, literate and very astute answer like Mariana took the trouble to post for us such as this one below:
"The leavening power of both forms of starter is the same in your translate it into flour content of each, since cell counts of bacteria and yeasts in starters are counted in cells per gram of flour in starter.
I.e. A fully functional starter will have 1 billion lactic bacteria cells per g of flour in your starter and about 10 million yeast cells per g of flour in your starter. If you know the amount of flour in your starter, you know how many cells you have, plus or minus a billion, he-he.
There is only a minor difference between performance of these two: not the leavening power, but the length of fermentation. Both will make your bread sponge and bread dough quadruple as required per recipe, however provided you use 2 starters in the same recipe interchangeably, liquid starter inoculates sponge with fewer number of bacterial and yeast cells and therefore quadrupling of volume of the sponge will happen a few minutes to an hour later.
The rule is that if you halve the amount of starter (i.e. the size of inoculation), expect to add another hour to fermentation at room temperature. Daniel Wing writes about it in Bread Builders book. Using 30g of firm starter (50% hydration) vs 30 g of liquid starter (130% hydration) will influence time of fermentation of the first intermediate sponge (refresher culture), but by the time you ferment your final dough, there will be no difference between doughs seeded with firm and liquid cultures.
It's pretty close to the same thing as when your little 6 year old child comes to ask you, "Mommy, Daddy, where did I come from."
And before you go getting all up in your misery chamber thinking you are going to have to explain sexual reproduction in the gentlist of terms for your baby 6 year old's delicate intellect...keep in mind. All I really need to know is that I came from Hermann Hospital. Cuz Molly came from Texas Children and Chip came from St. Joseph's.
What I mean by this illustration is I am your basic idiot. I'm an idiot. There I confessed it. What a weight off my chest. See? All I expected from that question was a yes or no :D. And now I read Mariana's answer and all of a sudden I'm seeing stars and planes and I may be having an out of body experience cuz I'm trying so hard to fathom what she's explaining that my brain is about to explode all over the puter screen then my dh will be really cheesed cuz not only will he not be getting breakfast in the morning but he will have to clean up the mess of it too!
So...I guess my question is, if you aren't a rocket scientist, can you still be a baker? In fact if you're more like a rock than a rocket, can you and do you still make awesome sourdough without hyping up your fight or flight system?
Ok, so how about it? Am I the only 6 year old in a room of brainiacs? *blush*
(btw, Mariana I'm not bustin on you. Please don't feel this way. Conversely, you are obviously leagues ahead of me intellectually, knowledge wise, etc...and your answers are so incredibly rich, I feel badly cuz I am asking you to carry on a conversation with a first grader! Ahem, that would be me...)
Anyone else here share in my less than stellar ability to understand the science of this?
That's all. Thanks for listening. I feel very relieved and just a little nekkid. :-/