Sometimes a small step is a major milestone
I started looking into sourdough baking in late November, and since that time, the learning curve has been steep and often times like drinking from a fire hose. I've made bread in the past using packets of IDY and looking up a recipe on the internet. Mix it up. Throw it in a slightly warmed oven till it doubles. Pat it down, roll it into a log, throw it in a bread pan, and put it back in the slightly warmed oven. Bake it at 350 deg for 20-30 minutes after the loaf is just cresting the pan. Never had a failure. Thought it would be a simple thing to jump into sourdough. And while the concepts are simple enough, the process of actually making it all come together with a sourdough starter have eluded me. I've had some successes along the way (was very happy with how my semolina CB turned out), but any successful loaf I made always had at least some IDY in the mix. I could always get fermentation and "sour" flavor in the bread, but I could not get much for leavening without the IDY. Not being one to give up, I have beat my head against the un-leavened, flat, dense loaf of bread wall, repeatedly. Until today!
Special thanks to Abe for helping me FINALLY understand and read a starter feeding (I was re-feeding too soon) and getting me through this first loaf. It was a higher hydration than I'm used to handling and my pre-shaping and final shaping were "rough", and I'm not sure I read the end of BF or final proofing correctly. But... It rose on it's own from a starter. No IDY required. Major milestone!
Small step and still a long way to go on the learning curve, but I can at least sleep tonight knowing there's hope I can get past square one after 2+ months of trying to make a viable starter. :-)
Thanks to everyone that's answered some of my many questions since joining this site. It is a great community here!