I've been baking sourdough for a while now, regularly feeding this lovely culture of a bacteria laden flour-water mixture for almost a year. Over the course of a year, I've been learning more and more about the finicky nature of this little being...how much and how often to feed it, the ratio of flour to water when preparing the dough, how to properly knead, the correct temperature to make the creature happy as it ferments all day, and the length of time to get it right without the end result being too sour, not sour enough, risen enough etc. You'd be amazed how much goes into the ancient art of sourdough bread. And I'm glad to say that I had achieved the point of effectively make a beautiful loaf of whole-wheat sourdough just about every time.
But I was getting bored. Until my friend showed me the book Tartine Bread and my whole outlook on sourdough has changed forever. Dramatic, yes I know. Amazing. Basically you use an immature sourdough starter (one that doesn't smell sour but rather, fruity) and you use way more water than in conventional recipes. What you get is a a very moist loaf with lots and lots of big air pockets, is super chewy on the inside and crispy on the outside. I also cook the bread in a dutch oven now to cook with steam...the results are as close to a professional bakery as I have ever reached. I'm so excited! Here's some photos of my first attempt with the new method. I know you're drooling. This recipe is the "country white", which uses mostly white flour (which has been digested by the sourdough, making it more nutritious than regular white bread) but also has some whole wheat flour added.