One starting point for making delicious bread is to learn about the starter that makes the bread. Each starter is unique, and you can make it have different qualities based on how you would like it. Each time you feed your starter, you are giving it a new cycle of activity. A starter is very flexible, but can also be somewhat controlled.
You will learn how to gauge its activity by looking at its level, quality, and frequency of bubbles (for wetter starters) or volume growth (as the starters get stiffer). You will also be smelling the starter, as it is continually fermenting and changing. Tasting the starter will give you a sense of the acidity, and many of the other changes in flavor.
The 5 main variables you can use to affect your starter are:
4. Feeding Ratio
5. Type of Food
As you learn how your starter behaves, you will be able to affect many qualities of your bread. The next necessary skill is learning how to create the structure to hold all the gas that the starter produces.