Sorry I didn't post earlier. I should have, as I've been trying
sourdough since I started baking bread in the 70s. Unfortunately, I've had mixed results - some weren't as flavorful as a good yeast bread, while some were so sour that about all I could eat them with was braunschweiger, or a similarly strong meat! I found out, later on, that temperature was the key, but even that wasn't working that well, as one of the key temperatures - that during a long wait for the dough, usually overnight in the refrigerator, is ideally done at a warmer temperature than our refrigerators! If you have a fridge that you cure cheese in, that would work well, but not many of us have this! And besides this, there's that problem of needing to use the started very often, otherwise, it gets "stagnant", so to speak, even in the fridge, needing "refreshing". And you can't really use that discard, unless you need the alcohol for something!
Simply put, I couldn't use it often enough, and ended up wasting too much.
However, in shortly after 2000 (I think that's when the book came out?) I discovered something in ArtisanBaking Across America
, by Maggie Glezer that was better than any sourdough I had ever tried - Firm Sourdough Starter
! Amazingly, when I googled "firm sourdough starter", a link to a post on thefreshloaf.com came up, with a reference to her recipe! Here it is:
This type of starter is also referred to as a levain
- the French term for this. One good thing about this is that you don't make much of it, and don't need much. And it can sit in the fridge for months, and you just refresh it with a small amount, a couple of times, and it's good as new! I only had it "die" once in my fridge, and I just made it again, with the rye flour.
Usually the sourness is somewhat mild, but very good. However, to make it like the SF sourdough, the key is to rise it at a fairly high temperature - not something I would have guessed! Here's one of the posts on thefreshloaf.com, showing the method:
The firm starter I keep in the fridge has a label on it for refreshing - 10 g starter, 25 g non-chlorinated water, 45 g bread flour. Just mix together, and roll it in your hands - it's sort of dry, at first, but eventually comes together. Then just put it back in the jar, and the ball should double in 8 hours; if it's been a long time since using it, a second refreshing will probably be needed. I often do it with half the amount, when it's been several months, so I don't waste as much, and it's back to normal after 3 refreshments.