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Managing Starter Fermentation to Produce the Best Sourdough Bread Ever

Tartine sourdough made with my strong yeast starter after managing fermentation

As I was re-reading Tartine Bread the other week in preparation for my last post, I stumbled on this quote and it really resonated with me:

A baker’s true skill lies in the way he or she manages fermentation. This is the soul of bread making.

I think sometimes it’s easy for me to fall into the routine of blindly feeding my sourdough starter at set times during the day and forget that it and it’s strength are the keys to good bread. Feedings shouldn’t happen on a strict schedule, they need to be adjusted based on cues obtained by sight and smell (perhaps this sounds peculiar but it is one sure fire way to learn the habits of your starter) until the starter is predictable. Visual cues such as large air pockets and smells like ripe fruit or vinegar are indicators of good fermentation and tell you if a feeding should happen soon.

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