I’d hate to say that I always rush into things, or that I always overthink things, but after having decided to start from scratch on my starter I’ve had something of a change of heart. I’m still sure that something about my bread method was not producing the loaf that I am looking for, but perhaps the issue does not require tossing out my poor starter.
After having spent some time digging around the Internets, I’ve realized that I’m not the only one (surprise!) that cannot manage feeding a starter once or even multiple times a day, seven days a week. It would seem that it is quite common in fact that starters are kept refrigerated for the “working man’s” (or woman’s) schedule that does not necessarily accommodate feeding these needy beasts – or as Anthony Bourdain’s baker pal said in Kitchen Confidential, “Feed the bitch!”
So after some time spent in considering changing things up, I’ve opted to keep feeding the bitch. However, after having spent a couple of years working with Flour Water Salt Yeast recipes almost exclusively, I think it’s time to go in another direction. You might say that I got into something of a rut in my baking, mostly mindlessly adhering to the prescribed process loaf after loaf (though I have been experimenting with different flours), and my results have slowly deteriorated over time as a result.
Step 1 in the process though is going to be seeing what I can do with a little more ‘enlightened’ leaven. My prior schedule consisted of pulling the starter out of the fridge on Thursday evening with a feed, and then feeding Friday morning, and Saturday morning prior to mixing the levain with the dough. For my first foray into something new, I’ve just pulled the starter out on a Tuesday evening to give it a few days of extra feeding.
After pulling my starter out of the fridge Tuesday evening, I gave it a morning feeding at 6:30AM prior to heading into work. The above is a shot of my starter after having gotten home at 6PM – not quite bubbling wildly (not sure I’d expect it to be), but it has some good development. While it’s still early, I’m embracing some optimism heading into trying a new recipe this weekend.