Calling All Crumb Detectives!
My family has recently moved across country and, sadly, my starters didn't make the trip.
Fortunately, I blogged my method for making a starter here on TFL back in 2007. So, I retraced my steps but in Michigan rather than in San Diego. After two weeks, I had two (rye & OAP white) bouncing, baby starters crying to make some bread. The first batards turned out perfect - huge spring, dime-size holes in crumb, chewy/shiny texture, crisp and golden crust, deliciously sour (for a young starter). I was back in business, so to speak. Or, so I thought.
Those loaves were gone the next day.
Back at it a few days later, I went about making the next two batards. This time, everything turned out the same EXCEPT...the crumb was soft and small-holed...like sandwich bread. I've since made two more batches with the same results. By the way, the wife and kids like it this way because sandwich fixing don't fall through the holes.
However, it's nagging at me. What the heck did I do differently? At first, I thought I was degassing to heavily. So, I used a gentle folding technique several times prior to final shaping, which is done gently (or maybe not gentle enough?).
All ingredients are the same so it's either environmental (cannot think of any change here, either) or in the handling (maybe I did something unique the first time and forgot - I do that a lot). Here is what I'm doing:
1. Mix weighed ingredients, sans salt, for a minute or two in KA mixer. Let rest for 10-15 minutes. Add salt, mix another three or so minutes in mixer, then by hand until I like the 'feel' of the dough. This is a 60% hydration sourdough recipe using 60g rye, 450g OAP, 300g H2O, 11g salt (usually use kosher but tried iodized, too), 180g starter.
2. Proof in light-warmed oven for sixty minutes, stretch-n-fold. Repeat two more times. The dough doesn't necessarily double in each time but comes close and is very pliable.
3. Proof one more hour then retard overnight in fridge.
4. Remove from fridge and allow to warm up for an hour or two. Dough has easily doubled - some in fridge and more as it warms.
5. Divide. Shape: letter fold, turn 90 degrees, letter fold then shape to batard as shown by Reinhard or in the KA videos to build up skin tension. Roll out gently between palms and counter top.
6. Rise till nearly doubled then slash and bake at 500 degrees on stone preheated for an hour at 500. Using old pan to hold one cup of water poured at onset of baking. Add a few sprays of water from bottle across top of oven (and loaves).
7. Bake for 10 minutes then release steam and bake for another five or ten minutes till internal temp reaches 210-ish and crust is golden. Cool.
Can anybody find any clue to this crumb crime?
Thanks for your time!