Chef? Levain? Starter? Seed?
Ok, I've seen a lot of these terms being bandied about, and have a question or two of the more experienced.
My first two tries with sourdough were failures. The first one was actually too successful: the starter outgrew his container and tried to eat my kitchen. The second one I left out too long without feeding, and starved the poor bugger to death. That was attempting to follow the vague instructions in the Bread Baker's Apprentice. I was a little disappointed in his sourdough section.
My most recent try (Clyde) is going very well. He's been alive for a few weeks, and has made 2 beautiful loaves and a mess of bagels. And may I just say that sourdough rye bagels are heaven in round form. I'm using the techniques in Bread Alone. I'm currently using a rye starter.
So, a few questions:
- Chef vs. starter: Most of the recipes I've seen say to use the starter after taking it out of the fridge and letting it activate for 8 hours or so. Bread Alone makes a distinction between chef/levain and starter. The chef comes out of the fridge, then part of it is used to make the starter, which activates and is used in the dough. The chef gets fed, and goes back in the fridge when its bubbly. Is this normal?
- Will leaving my starter out longer be bad? I don't always have time to dedicate the whole day to baking. Is there a general guideline to how long a starter can be left on the counter and still be viable to go into a dough?
- There were more, but I forgot.