In the last few days there was a question in one of the posts about the timing of using a leaven.
(I can't find the exact poster - this forum has got too busy for its own good )
It might have been in relation to Teresa's interesting experiment with different starters - demonstrating different times of 'peak volume'
That got me thinking about a couple of questions that Chembake or Graham or anyone else out there might know the answer to.
When we refresh a starter, what are we aiming to do?
I am going to attempt an answer to my own question
Presumably there are several things happening simultaneously - there is multiplication of organisms (yeast and bacteria), consumption of some of the starches in the flour, production of some of the fragrant by-products of bacterial activity.
When the starter 'peaks' in volume, and then starts to shrink again I assume that the yeast and bacteria have run out of food. Presumably then the rate of multiplication would slow or stall, though I think that the starter would become more sour due to ongoing bacterial activity.
When new flour is introduced (in the form of mixing the dough), new food is added, and the yeast will presumably start to multiply and be active again.
I think that what we are trying to do is to maximise the number of yeast in the starter, as well as produce enough of the 'souring' by products to flavour our bread. But does it matter if you use a starter that is a little 'early' (by which I mean before 'peak'), or 'late' (after peak)?
Say for example that a starter peaks at 12 hours - does it matter if you use it at 8 hours or 10 hours or 14 hours or even 24 hours?
Do you get the best rise with starter 'picked' at peak, or doesn't it make a difference? What about flavour?