My Third Attempt
This is the third loaf I've made since starting - I haven't baked since I was a kid, and never anything remotely 'artisan' style - all white sandwich loaves and bread machine stuff. I still like the convenience of the machine for a quick loaf in a pinch, but I'm having so much fun playing with the dough! This loaf was the closest I've gotten to the crumb I'm looking for. It is a softer loaf with a bit of butter and sugar, but the rest is just basic yeast, water, bread flour. I prefermented (not overnight, but the better part of a morning and afternoon) and let the finished dough go through two slow rises on my counter (not in the oven with the pilot light like I usually do) and I'm trying to be more gentle with the dough in between rises instead of vigorous punching down like my mom used to do. I use the folding technique, trying to learn the french fold as described here (I love how the dough tightens up) and I think it's paid off! I'm going to make some pitas and cinnamon swirl bread today if my son gives me time.