I have been baking sourdough bread for some time now and one thing I have discovered is the secret to a good sourdough loaf: a good, active starter.
As I only bake once a week-at the weekend-I always refrigerate my starters (I have two) between bakes. And getting the starter to wake up, so to speak, and come to hand and do its job when I want it is a tricky task.
A lot of trial and error has gone into arriving at a system which I, touch wood, believe will give me a consistently good starter.
This system or standard operating procedure involves me taking the starters out of the fridge on Thursday morning and leaving them on the kitchen worktop to get up to room temperature.
On Thursday evening when I come home from work, I give them a small feed and put them in a warm place. Then, on Friday evening they should be active and alive and ready to go to war and do their job: raise the dough to provide a nice loaf with an open crumb.
So, on Friday evening before going to bed I feed them again-a top up if you like-and by Saturday morning they are ready to go to work.
Having a standard operating procedure, some type of system, in any sphere of activity is an invaluable tool.