I've been away for the weekend, but made a loaf to take with me. Quite a buzz to sit around the table at lunch with friends and see it disappear and get involved with a discussion of the whys and wherefores of sourdough.
Anyhow, back home in the afternoon with no bread in the breadbox and needing some for lunch next day, the alternatives were to go for shop-bought (yecchh) or to make a yeasted loaf - OR - take some shortcuts.
I decided on the latter course. So I took the starter out of the fridge (four and a half days), measured out the required 180g, fed the balance afresh and returned the new brew to the fridge. The balance of the dough was 320g water, 50g wholemeal,450g white and 10g salt (SourDoms Pane Francesa recipe).
I had time in the remainder of the evening to do the mixing and kneading followed by the pre-ferment with stretch and fold to get to dough up to shaping stage. After shaping, it was into the fridge until morning, simply covered with a damp tea towel (I didn't have a suitably large plastic bag to put it in).
By morning the loaf seemed to have risen reasonably well but I decided to leave it on the bench for a couple of hours before baking because I was up early and had plenty of time to bake and cool before lunch.
As you can see the result was more than adequate. Although my lame work was a little scratchy, I did manage to get some undercut and the nicely raised crunchy lips looked, felt and tasted good.
The take home message, I think, is that it is not essential for the starter to be 'fully' active to start a mix. Perhaps if it has been in the fridge a bit longer, then it might not work as well without a pre-feed. However if you are baking a couple of times a week, give it a try.