So since moving here to Santa Barbara, I have had painful pangs of withdrawal from my baking life. So I began a starter from organic raisins which has proved to be just the catharsis I needed. I have since made two different batches of bread from my lovely starter we have named Kavanaugh.
The first batch was dense and...acidic. The intense, almost acidic flavor was obviously due to my very potent starter paired with the standard amount of commercial yeast we used at The Bakery. I talked to Cameron and we agreed that to get a wider, more open crumb (more holes in the bread) I needed to use a wetter dough, and proof (rise) more. This second batch had a perfect crumb, but what unfortunately was under-baked and since I forgot to slash it prior to baking (which leads me to my next point - don't drink and bake) it split down the side and that also probably contributed to how moist and borderline gummy the crumb was, since there wasn't much release for the steam. I also eye-balled the amounts of everything since I was using only my starter this time and not any commercial ADY. As a result, I under-measured the salt because I was afraid of the detrimental effects on my starter-only bread, since salt can kill yeast easily. So my resulting bread loaf was gummy and underflavored - a result of undercooking, not slashing, two little salt, and not letting it proof enough before baking to develop flavor.
I believe that using one tsp of commercial ADY will help my bread develop the CORRECT amount of flavor (neither too strong, nor too plain) as well as walking away from the proofing process and getting out of the house so I'm not so tempted to shape then bake too early and loose crumb and flavor.
SO excited! Am making the Hubby two loaves of Challah tonight - all ADY though; I don't have a Challah w/starter recipe, though I think it would be fun to work on one, since Kavanaugh is so prolific that's he's starting to take over the kitchen.
Can't wait to try again and post Part Two!!