I’ve had my starter for about two weeks now. I’ve fed it every day, using the refreshment schedule from @apeiceofbread’s starter recipe.

First Bake Levain

The starter had good activity after 5 days, but I couldn't bake with it until this weekend. I decided to try Ken Forkish’s Country Blonde recipe.

I find Ken’s recipes interesting because he explicitly breaks down the amount of flour and water used in the starter as part of the flour and water used in the final mix. This felt new to me. In the past, I had used Chad Robertson’s formula from Tartine, which uses nice round numbers ;).

The two recipes differ in their timing of the bulk rise. Chad’s calls for a short bulk rise of 3-4 hours. Ken’s has a longer, 12-15 hour bulk rise. I let the longer bulk rise happen overnight, and had a nice rise in the morning.

slack, divided dough

Once I turned the dough out, I realized I had a problem.

slack, divided dough

The dough had over-fermented. On the counter, it felt slack and didn't hold shape. I tried slap folds to help build some structure, but no luck. The folding seemed to break down the gluten structure in the dough, the opposite of what I wanted to happen. Instead, I had a puddle of dough on the counter.

over fermented, slack bread dough

Our house gets cold at night, and I had added more levain to the dough to compensate. I think that change, combined with the long bulk rise, led the dough to over proof.

Next time, I plan to do the bulk rise during the day, to keep track of the progress.

While not a great first showing, it re-kindled my enjoyment for the process of baking, and reminded me to pay attention.