I make sourdough bread every week, sometimes more than once a week, too. And I might make two or three loaves at a time or at least over the weekend.
I know what a good sourdough loaf should look and taste like. And I am familiar with the occasional disaster loaf too-the one that fails to rise, has a tightly packed, gummy crumb, and tastes heavy and dense on the stomach.
The nice loaf will have a light texture, open crumb and a tasty crust. And the difference between these two loaves is the starter.
The key to a good loaf of sourdough lies in the foundation stone of your sourdough starter. It should be lively, active, and have plenty of bubbles in it before being pressed into action.
To put it at its most basic, if your starter is not capable of rising up in the jar in which it is kept then it is not capable of rising your loaf which will contain 500 g of flour, 350 g of water, and other ingredients.
Trying to get a good oven rise and open crumb with a bread of light texture is impossible if your starter is lifeless. It would be like trying to breathe new life into a corpse. It simply won’t work.
Making a starter is easy enough but it can be tricky to maintain it, especially if you are only baking once a week and you are not feeding the starter every day which I don’t.
After a while you will get the hang of it but take from this post that your sourdough starter is of critical importance to a decent loaf.