I started my first ever sourdough starter two days ago and another last evening. On the first, I cheated a little and added a tiny bit of commercial yeast (shame on me, I know, but I was anxious to get started and I thought my recent cold weather might make for slow going), my recipe was 1 cup unbleached flour, 1 cup warm water, 1/2 tsp active dry yeast, and 1 tsp Organic Honey. I then put the starter in the oven on a very low warm setting while a loaf of french bread was rising in there as well. It quickly doubled and almost tripled in size in less than an hour and outgrew its container! I had to find it a new home, and decided it was probably fine to put in the fridge after a stint at RT. I stirred it later that night and it seems just fine. :) I haven't yet given it a feeding, but I plan to tomorrow (about 72 hours after creation). I was wondering if that sounds reasonable to some of the more experienced bakers on here. It's doing lovely and isn't growing, receding, drying out or anything.
For my second crack at a starter (natural this time!), I used the same recipe as above but without the yeast. I also put this one in the oven on a very very low setting, but for about 20 hours. When I took it out of the warmer environment, I was surprised to see that it had already doubled in size and was culturing already. It had a look to it that I hadn't seen in any postings so far, so I thought I would share and get some feedback on it as well.
There was no color change, only change in size and there were layers to it. The top 4 inches were light and bubbly, much like my cheater starter is looking. It smelled very similar to the other one as well. Below that layer, there was a 1/2 inch layer of liquid. It was a very light and clear-ish beige-yellow kind of color. The liquid layer had no visible activity in it and wasn't trying to merge with the other layers at all, it was simply letting the bubbly layer float above it. Below the liquid, there was another 1/2 inch layer that looked exactly like the starter did right after first mixing it; there were no bubbles or noticeable activity in the bottom layer either.
So I ask of you, oh wisened veterans of sourdough baking, does this seem pretty typical of starters in general or white flour starters? Should I toss it and start again, or am I just lucky that it has become active so quickly?
Since discovering the layers, I stirred the starter together and it deflated some. I then gave it its first feeding (1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup warm water. Wondering if I should keep adding a little honey for the little yeasties to feast on...). It is now on bedrest at RT in my cupboard with a paper towel covering, held in place by a rubber band. How many more days should I give it at RT before it moves into the fridge?
Thanks so much for your advice!