I’m relatively new to baking sourdough bread: only about 20 tries over the last month or so. One thing I’m starting to wonder is whether it’s possible to get standard results with real sourdough bread. That is, dough that uses a cultured starter and not baker’s yeast. My early attempts were bricks. However, more recently I’ve had intermittent great results. It occurred to me that the reason for the existence of baker’s yeast is precisely to get consistent results every time. When I get good results the power of the starter seems to carry through multiple rising periods. When I get poor results, I get one good rise but no more. After that, the bread loaf is really flat. I can’t account for anything that I’m doing differently. So, I’m currently blaming the culture starter for being unreliable.
So, I have a question: Do I just have to live with no rise about every other time or is there still something in my process that I’m getting wrong about half the time. If the latter, what might it be?