One of my wishes would be that every sourdough baker recognize that their starter is really just another form of bread dough.
The only differences are:
We don’t add salt (speeds fermentation)
We often keep it at a higher hydration …
We don’t make a strong effort to develop the gluten
We don’t bake it – but feed it to perpetuate it.
The starter is comprised of flour water and yeasts (and bacteria).
When making dough, we add a portion of our starter to the flour and water.
When feeding our starter, we add a portion of our starter to the flour and water.
We have no concern to vary the amount of starter we add to a dough or to try different hydrations or different flours We should recognize that we can do the same things with our starter. Change the hydration – change the ratio of starter to flour to water, change the flour.
As we watch our starter – we can gain great insights into how our dough should perform – does it rise quickly or slowly – does it double
or triple or only increase by 75%? How long does it hold a peak? These help us know the health of our starter – but are also highly correlated to the flour we are using.
Watch how changes in temperature affect your starter… it will be the same with your bread doughs.
Want to better understand what overproofing is – watch your starter – it overproofs and collapses regularly…. the same thing that happens when it’s part of a bread dough.
It’s the ultimate ongoing science experiment- happening right in our kitchens