How can I achieve a less dense crumb?
I made a rustic white bread using Nancy Silverton's recipe from her Breads from La Brea Bakery book. This is my first time baking in cold weather and I'm thinking low fermenation temperatures might be the problem, since I've used this formula before with no problems. I know my starter is healthy and performing well, so I am confident we can remove that from the equation. Here is what happened:
When it was time for the fermentation, the house was between 60F & 65F, and after two hours I could see no change in the dough. I then placed it in a room with a heater that raised the temperature to between 70 and 75. After a total fermentation period of four hours the dough seemed to have spread out (the container was a bit wider than the dough) but not to have risen much, if at all. When I pressed on it it seemed rather firm, and my finger left an impression that lingered. I didn't let it ferment further for fear of ruining the dough. I'm now wondering if I should have let it ferment longer.
I then shaped it and let it proof for about an hour as recommended but again, the rise I was supposed to expect was not discernable. Again I dared not let it sit out longer for fear of overproofing. Should I have let it proof for a longer period at this point?
So next it went into the refrigerator overnight. Today I let it sit out for four hours in the warmed room as Silverton instructs, but the boule did not double in size as she describes (it barely rose at all) and when I pressed on it, the dough did not spring back as she says it should.
Dreading the outcome, I baked per her instructions. The result was a nice color and startling oven spring given the size of the dough (I hadn't expected anything at all!) but the crumb was stili denser than I was hoping for. My room mates praised the flavor and density so it wasn't a complete waste of flour, but I am wondering what I can do to make the dough less dense next time. By the way, I made a sourdough batard with this starter a few days earlier and it was also more dense than I prefer. I would appreciate any suggestions/advice you may have. Thanks!! Photos of the boule and the crumb are below.