So I followed a recipe for my starter from Peter Berley's modern vegetarian book. He claims to have based it off of "Breads from La Brea Bakery". It uses flour, water, and grapes. The starter isn't fed very much in the first 7 days or so, but for the last three days (out of a total of about 14) one feeds the starter three times a day (approx. 1/2 cup, 1 cup, 2 cups water/flour at intervals during the day). My starter is pretty fluid and raised in temperatures between 64 and 70 as it is winter here in Philly. I haven't a clue about the hydration level of the starter. Anyway, it bubbles and foams a noticeable amount on the top, but it certainly doesn't double in size overnight. Is this a requirement despite the hydration level? I usually feed it equal ratios of flour to water on a per volume basis, not weight. So when I tried to use the starter per the book's guidelines, my bread needed to rise over several hours (at least 8). It then asked me to punch it down and then refrigerate. After an a night in the fridge, I needed to let it rise again. It did so poorly over the course of another 8 hours or so. After that, one must roll it out of the bowl, punch it down, shape it into loaves, and then prove it for a hour. At this point it should double in volume. So the loaves didn't hold shape and spread across my pan. The loaves also didn't double in 2 or even 4 hours. I baked the bread and it was a brick. I tried to bake another loaf after this failure, but I skipped the overnight refrigeration and I never punched the dough down. I also proved in a warm oven. The loaves still took a long, albeit less amount of time to prove and they didn't hold their shape. They are mostly King Arthur white flour with a little whole wheat. What could be wrong here? Do I need to pay closer attention to hydration by buying a scale? Do I need to feed my started until it can double in volume? Do I need to use less water in my dough so that it holds together better after proving (it's pretty solid when the dough is mixed and kneaded)?
I appreciate any feedback. By the way, my second batch of brick bread is in the pictures below. It's also worth noting that my bread has a nice sour flavor. I am certain that I have both the yeast and bacteria growing in my starter.