Miracles do happen
3 mini SD boules
That's how I felt yesterday when finally my sourdough boules came out exactly the way I like them : Thin and delicately crisp crust, fine textured and moist crumb, light weight, and last but not least, not at all sour but still very flavourful.
There is no doubt in my mind that it all depends on the starter. I have tried so many different feeding schedules, % of hydration, and temperatures, but I could never really be sure what was best because after a while something would always go wrong and the starter would slow down, and of course the result was always sour, dense bread.
A few weeks ago I just didn't have time to play around anymore so I had to pack it away for storage in the fridge. This time I used the instructions from Erik Kayser's starter (100% hydration) that I started up a while ago along with Marianna :
" Refresh this liquid leaven by taking 100gm of starter, 200 gm of 27 degC water, 200gm white bread flour. Let it ferment a little and store in a cool place while still very immature. Prior to baking, take it out, let it ferment fully at room temperature, refresh, let it ferment the number of hours that you want (i.e. 6 hours at 33C; 12 hours at 30C; or 16 hours at 27C ) and bake with it."
Looking at the amount of hours at each temp, it seemed to me that no matter which one I chose, the starter would be very overripe, but I followed the instructions. Indeed it rose up to triple, stayed there for a few hours, fell, and stayed that way but it was still very bubbly when the amount of time was up. I took that, and used it to innoculate the sponge but this time I started making the dough when it had risen to just a little over double. So... now I'm thinking that I have most likely overfed every single one of my starters (feeding just at or soon after the peak) and that is why they always slow down. I can't be sure until I try this again a few times but this bread was by far the best SD I've made so far.
Any thoughts are welcome.