High-Hydration Dough and No Big Holes
My name's Dan, and I'm a relatively new baker. I love baking bread, and I can bake Challah, Brioche, Whole-Wheat, Rye, and other various breads with relative ease. (Mainly because they are easy.) However, everytime I try to make a loaf of bread (a baguette, boule, sandwich loaf, whatever) with big holes, I get none.
A few of you have suggested that I look at "DonD" recipes, in the past few days I have made a batch of "Baguettes a l'Ancienne with Cold Retardation".
Personally, I used King Arthur AP flour for this recipe, I used plain bottled water (with no additives). My house has coal heat (I live in in Central New York State), so I added a few extra drops of water. (Coal is a dry heat afterall.)
So... here's what I experienced with the recipe.
1.) The Autolyse - You're supposed to mix two different types of flour (AP and Dark Rye) with ice cold water and mix for 1 min. My Autolyse was dry, far too dry to even be a bread dough. But I went with it anyway, I'm only following the recipe directions.
2.) The Next Day - I added the extra water & yeast, mixed it for a few minutes, then added the salt. I got a very wet & sticky dough flecked with the rye, you definately needed wet hands to handle it. I stretched and folded it as needed - I noticed the mass of dough getting a little stronger after each fold, but it was still super sticky.
3.) I proceeded to get a bowl - sprayed it very well, I covered it and refrigerated it for the time necessary.
4.) The Next Day - I got the bowl out of the fridge, did various things for about 30 mins (to take the chill off a little bit), I didn't notice the mass getting any bigger, but I proceeded anyway. The dough stuck pretty well in the bowl, and I tried to get it out as gently as I could. I oiled my work table very well, then got a dough blade and divided it into 3 pieces, and followed the next few steps.
At this point, I have 3 "masses", about 1'' wide and 6'' long.
Now, it says to proof it on a couche for 45 mins, and I did just that. I floured it very well, but it stuck like glue in the meantime. I tried to ease it very carefully, but I ended up stretching the dough a bit, probably about 2''.
I carefully transferred the first dough piece onto a piece of parchment, I slashed it with a lame 4 times, and I loaded it onto my baking stone. I quickly got preheated water and poured it into my cast-iron skillet then closed the oven door immediately. I baked it until it was a dark caramel color, the temperature was fine, and it smelled like baking bread.
My Result - A Flat anamorphous loaf, no big holes and way too chewy. I will admit, it did have good taste, but it honestly looked horrendous....
I know that my yeast, my water, and my flour are all good. I've used all of them in previous bread recipes with all great successes. My refrigerator wasn't open a lot, neither was it crowded with stuff. My oven was set at the exact temperature called for, and I used exactly the amount of water required for steam.
Now I THINK I know the answer to my own dilemma - I may be handling the dough too rough and it pops the bubbles required for the big holes.