Hello from Montreal and an impassioned plea for large bubbles
Since this seems to be the place for introduction, here we go. The impassioned plea follows.
I am a 42 year old male (I feel the need to specify considering that my name seems to say otherwise in english) from Montreal in Canada. I started baking as a vegetarian teenager the regular granola loafs (all sort of flours, no technique... Bricks!). I never thought that baking bread like you get at the bakery (we are lucky to have a wide variety of fantastic bakeries here) at home was possible until my mom gave me a KA 5-6 years ago. I got Crust and Crumbs and never looked back! It actually turned into an obsession and I never knew that such a forum existed until one month ago. Saying I was (still am) thrilled is a vast understatement. Who can I discuss the size of the bubbles in my bread (see below), the key in which the bread sings coming out of the oven or the mood of my sourdough without being eternally teased about it? Thanks Floyd!
Other then bread, I have a family of 5 kids (who eternally tease me about bread), work in high tech and like to make other fermented food such as vegetables (saurkraut, kimchi,...), kombucha, amazake,...
I have many questions that I will ask over time. One problem has been plaguing me ever since I started bread baking: right now, there is a baguette picture on the right of this window that is laughing at me: fantastic irregularly sized bubbles, some quite large. I have baked hundreds of baguettes. Tried the baguette à l'ancienne from Reinhart and most baguette recipes from all of the bread books I own (which is most of them...). Tried many high hydration recipes (there was a ciabatta picture here that nearly made my cry a couple of days ago). Today's Ciabatta (and dozen others) is a testimony that this does not work for me. I cannot get big holes. To no avail. A lot of (or little of) steam in the oven. Careful or crude shaping. Many variations of bulk and final fermentation as well as retarding. Autolyse. Many unplanned variations (read: mistakes...). Nothing.
The bread is usually otherwise fantastic, tasty, delicious, but no big bubbles. Sometimes when I get lucky, a few less puny holes will appear, just to tease me, but never the beautiful open crumb that I dream of. Before I found this site, I had even developed a theory that this was not achievable at home, because of flour, oven, yeast, weather, or any other excuse you can come up with. Unfortunately, hundreds of pictures on this site prove this theory wrong.
So (and before I turn insane), do you have any suggestion into what is the most important factor for getting big irregular bubbles? Do I need psychotherapy?
PS: Do not take me too literally, I tend to exaggerate slightly... But it is true, a nice, open crumb is still eluding me, to my great dismay.