I did not think that it would ever come to this, but after I went overseas for 3 weeks my formerly loyal starter has descended into a severe sulk! Any advice on the cheering up would be appreciated.
I started the refreshing last Wednesday, taking the container from the fridge and discarding the top layer. I put 20 g into a clean container and started my normal feeding with organic wholemeal rye flour and water (100% hydration). Fed again Thursday am and again Friday am. I normally make my dough Friday evening but the starter did not look fully ripe and I was going out so I left it until early Saturday morning when it looked bubbly and fine to make dough. I made the dough (2 loaves) and set to rise. It was slow but OK so around 3pm I shaped the loaves, intending to bake after dinner. They just sat there flat in the bannetons from then on, so I put the bannetons in the fridge overnight. Still completely flat in the morning (6 am) so pulled out and put on the bench. Still flat but I baked one at around 11 am in case it would come good in oven- came out like a turkish loaf! I eventually composted the other uncooked in the late afternoon as it had not risen at all from the morning. This was all happening with ambient temp around 25 C.
I have made hybrid bread since using some of the starter from feeding so we have bread for sandwiches, but the starter overall still looks sullen with only a low level of bubbles.
I can only think that the good amount of bubbles that led me to make the bread was some kind of false effect from an invading yeast and I had hardly any of the original organisms left. I would love to know what the experts think!