French Batard questions! Meat and bubbles?
I'm new to the forum but not to baking bread. I started a few years back, trying out my hand at bread making on a whim. The result was a three pound loaf with the density of a lead bar that even the goat we owned would not eat. It was that bad. So after some culinary sulking I tried again and finally had some decent results. Now I consider myself a fairly accomplished baker with several successful bread recipies under my belt that I make on a regular basis. So now come my big question. I'm practicing making french bread and trying to recreate the flavor, texture and high-gas content of my local farmers market's selection. My first attempt was a flop, only cooking halfway through, but the crust was very nice and crisp, so it wasn't a total failure. My second loaf came out much better after allowing it to rise and bake much slower, but I'm still not getting the right flavor or consistancy of the bread itself that I'm looking for. The crust was spot on, chewy with that lovely little squeak, but I'm missing the big bubbles and the slightly sourdough like taste that they've accheived. I'll have to take and post some photographs, but perhaps I could get a little advice on the way. I've got some sourdough starter brewing at home as we speak, and will give that a try later this week, but what causes those lovely crater-like bubbles you often get in rustic breads? Also, how can I produce a chewier textured 'meat' of the bread? Thanks in advance for any advice you can provide!