I asked this question at the forum at another well-known and respected baking site I suspect the readership here is familiar with. Never received any replies. Hope to do better here:
I’ll take King Arthur Flour as an example but I could point to other companies: KAF’s catalogues advertise “improvers”-- and their recipes often include the use of a KAF “improver”-- for example, for pizza dough, for rye dough and I believe for whole wheat. They also sell sourdough starter. One cannot know from the advertisement or the pictured product what it contains. It appears that one can only learn that by purchasing the product.
I have nothing against the use of any additive that will enhance or improve a recipe, but I would like to know what it is in advance and what the rationale for it is. Ideally, I would prefer to add the elements/components of that product myself and be able to vary the quantities myself and test the results myself, rather than relying on a commercial product. My questions are:
Do any of the membership here have firsthand experience with these commercially available products they would be willing to share? If you know what these enhancers/improvers consist of, do you have an opinion on whether any of these items is worthwhile (preferably worthwhile not merely in theory but also in practice)? Would you recommend their use? Would you recommend instead attempting to accomplish the same benefits with additives of your own based on what you have learned?
My impression is that purchasing a small quantity of commercially prepared sourdough starter offers a convenience item for the individual interested in making a limited number of recipes just to see what sourdough bread baking is like before committing himself to making and maintaining one’s own starter.
Is there any other advantage the commercial product offers?
Thanks to anyone willing to respond.