I have recently been delighted to receive the "Black Death" starter from Zourdough and, I have to say, it is THE most active starter I've ever handled. It makes a loaf that is truly sour. I've bought sourdough bread from supermarkets before and wondered what the fuss was all about. I've made my own starters and wondered why the bread didn't taste particularly sour, but the loaves I made with Black Death, having left the levain in the fridge overnight, were really sour and it's that sourness that I'm after! I rehydrated the starter using stoneground wholemeal flour and then used strong white bread flour for the actual loaves.
Although the dough is very active in the rising stages and easily fills the large bowl I am proving it in, I haven't yet managed to get a good oven spring so, on Chris's advice, I'm going to switch to using all purpose white flour to see what results are like with that. The doughs I have made are very wet and sticky and I have been using dough scrapers to lift and turn the dough, so I should have thought they were hydrated enough to spring in the oven. They certainly feel very lively and responsive to being manipulated. I have also put a pan of water in the bottom of the oven to create steam but that didn't help. If anybody else out there has had a similar experience I would be very interested to know if you've succeeded in getting a well-risen loaf and how you did it. One thing I do know for sure is that "Black Death" is doing its stuff with all it's lovely heart and soul. It's what I'm doing to it that I'm not so sure about. Incidentally, the loaves I've made, although fairly flat, make wonderful toast. I cut wide slices and then cut those slices through the middle and toast them - yum! With raw honey drizzled over, yum X 2. With my homemade marmalade spread over while the slices are still hot from the toaster, yum X 3.
How am I going to resist buying another starter like the San Francisco one, for example? That's a tough one that is! I'll run out of storage space, that's for sure . . . just have to buy a bigger house 🤔😟. . . ! Best wishes to all contributors to the Zourdough Community from Guildford, Surrey, England 😊