I am a new sourdough baker and I'm having difficulty producing a sufficiently sour bread. I know this reads like a police interrogation but that's because much of the information I have found in that regard when searching the Interwebs for answers was incomplete, ambiguous or contradictory. My apologies in advance if it comes across as brusque but I thought this method was the shortest route to filling in the gaps I already recognize in my knowledge.
As to the starter:
1. Does sourness increase if the starter is left to ripen longer after a feeding and before the following feeding (if feeding to increase volume) or before refrigerating it?
2. Is it a better practice to let starter mature after feeding just until vigorous bubbling begins (and it produces that distinct sour mash aroma) or to wait until volume increases by a certain amount? Or is there a third option I haven't considered?
3. Is there a danger of "damaging" a starter by leaving it to ripen too long after a feeding before proceeding to the next step? (I'm talking a matter of a few hours, not days)
4.a. Does sourness increase if a refrigerated starter is allowed to warm before being used in a recipe?
4.b. Does sourness increase if a refrigerated starter is fed and allowed to ripen before being used in a recipe?
5.a. Will using unsweetend pineapple juice as the liquid when feeding the starter increase sourness?
5.b. Will adding sugar when feeding the starter increase sourness?
6.a. Does reducing the hydration level of the starter increase sourness?
6.b. If not, does increasing the hydration level of the starter increase sourness?
7. Does the type of flour used in feeding the starter (e.g., AP vs WW vs rye) affect the level of sourness? If yes, please elaborate.
As to the recipe,
8.a. Does increasing the amount of starter used increase sourness?
8.b. If not, does reducing the amount of starter used increase sourness?
9. Does using milk or buttermilk affect sourness? If yes, please elaborate.
As to the method,
10.a. Does increasing the length of the autolyse period increase sourness?
10.b. If yes, what would be the overall impact of extending autolyse to a matter of hours?
10.c. If not, does reducing the length of the autolyse period increase sourness?
11. Besides making it stiffer, does increased working of the dough also reduce sourness?
12.a. Does increasing the length of the fermentation period(s) increase sourness?
12.b. If not, does reducing the length of the fermentation period(s) increase sourness?
13.a. Does increasing the number of fermentation periods increase sourness?
13.b. If not, does reducing the number of fermentation periods increase sourness?
14. If using a cold fermentation stage, should the dough be "worked" (folded, stretched or punched down) just before putting it into the fridge?
I know I have completely omitted references to fermentation temperature, but that is because I maintain my house in the upper 70sF (~26°C) in the warmer months so that technique won't be available to me for that part of the year. In the interest of consistency, I would prefer not to rely on temperature to retard fermentation, even during the colder months.
I know some of these question might be irrelevant, but I wouldn't know without asking. And I appreciate you filling in the blanks wherever you are able.