I'm an idiot.
Or at least I have been for the last three weeks.
A got some sourdough starter from a friend, with the link to how to keep happy, which including weekly feedings of flour and water. Sounds easy, right? Right. Except when you do it wrong.
Once a week, you are supposed to take your starter out of the fridge, split it in two, and feed half with 4 oz water and 4 oz flour. The other half you bake with or discard if you're too dang busy to spend 6 hours making bread.
I've done this three times so far, the first time making Buttery Sourdough Rolls, which were basically cinnamon rolls without the sweet filling. They were buttery and delicious and deemed too good to bake every week if we didn't want to gain 50 pounds.
The other two times I've used the starter I made Rustic Sourdough Bread. The first time was basically a fiasco, with dough sticking to everything because the recipe didn't explicitly say to grease the bowl/saran wrap/anything the dough came in contact with. And then somehow the oven got turned off instead of preheating so the dough got to rise for an extra 25 minutes in a warm oven. Despite all that, the bread turned out fairly tasty, and the toast was super delicious. So I had to try it again, following all normal bread making protocols. Again, tasty bread, but it was really missing the loft I wanted in a rustic loaf, and the dough was super soft. I couldn't figure out where I went wrong, so I headed to the recipe comments to see if anyone else had issues like mine.
Nope. Not a one. What the heck was my problem?
Then it hit me. The day before when I had seen my friend's starter bubbling away on the counter, she had a lot more than me. Like a LOT more. Her post-feed starter was about the same size as my pre-split starter. Something was up with my feeding regimen.
Turns out, dummy here was adding 4 oz of water from a 1/2 cup measuring cup, and adding flour the same way. 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup flour. Unfortunately, liquids and flours and different weight to volume conversions. Something you average home cook probably knows. And I even know it, but somehow forgot at this very important time. Maybe I can blame it on puppy-induced lack of sleepy?
I added extra flour to my starter yesterday before work and left it out all day to feed before returning it to the refrigerator. It looked to be bubbling quite happily. Maybe next time my rustic sourdough loaves will be lofty and round instead of tasty, unshaped blobs.