The other day I started this experiment and I am happy to report success. I have been able to follow through on my next steps and have baked a loaf of bread using the modified starter.
1. Changed the container for the starter
The starter is now housed in a glass mason jar with a paper napkin attached as a lid. This allows airflow and keeps other stuff out. I would have used cheese cloth, but I didn't have any.
2. Put the starter on its new diet
After moving the starter from the plastic bag to the jar, I fed it with 1 teaspoon sugar, 1/2 cup warm water, and 1/2 cup unbleached white bread flour. I know I added whole wheat flour last time, but decided to change it up a bit and see if the white makes a difference.
3. Baked two loaves of bread
Since I am experimenting with the starter, I figured that I should have a control group to compare it to. Based on that plan, I baked two loaves of whole wheat Grandmother Bread. One with the starter and one without. I added 3 tablespoons of dough enhancer and omitted the salt.
Note: I have never made this bread recipe before, or a loaf of bread from scratch for that matter.
During the first step of the recipe, I noticed that I could smell the yeast and see tiny bubbles in the water with both versions. When kneading the dough, the one with the starter had more spring and took more flour in the kneading step.
In general, the amount dough with the starter was larger. This held true through the entire process (1st rise, 2nd rise, end loaf size). After baking, the loaf with the starter was a bit fluffier and a tad bit undercooked in the center, but not enough to stop us from eating it. The other loaf was fully cooked and light for a whole wheat bread.
I will keep the starter around a little while longer (using its new diet) and try another loaf.