Dough is impossible to handle.
As I've posted previosuly in my blog, I've been working on improving my scoring and shaping skills - which I think they have. However I've hit an impasse. Actually it's a continuation of the age old problem that I've been dealing with since the beginning of my 'bread adventure'.
My dough (after bulk ferment) is always way too soft to shape or score properly. It never holds shape. I have to rely on oven spring to prevent complete pancakes from occurring.
I've tried different hydrations (50% through 70/80%), different starter ratios, different proofing times, underproofing, overproofing, retarded proofing, different temperature proofing, modifying salt content, autolyse, intensive mixing, minimal mixing, stretch and fold etc. etc. etc. - and while the dough usually looks and feels promising before bulk ferment, the result afterwards is always way too soft to handle. It's not soup exactly - but nothing I do to try and develop a good surface tension in shaping holds longer than about 5 minutes. I went right back down to basics the other day and tried a simple (commercial) yeast dough - and had exactly the same difficulties.
I try to be really gentle with shaping but the light touch that seems to be required to handle the dough is just ridiculous. If I apply a firmer approach, I lose any hope of having a decent crumb (think bricks) or dough smeared across the work surface.
If it weren't for the amount of time and effort I've put into this (baking almost daily - sometimes twice for the past few months) - I'd say this was simply beginner's incompetence but I've been watching online videos, reading books, texts etc. over and over and over again and the doughs which I read about/see on video seem to exist in a completely different paradigm to mine. Nothing I see about handling dough seems to translate to what I am working with here.
This is really getting very tiresome - and I apologise if my posts seem to go through the same cycle of despair most of the time but I still haven't solved this problem - one that has been bugging me from the start. Why oh why oh why doesn't it ever improve? I *think* my understanding and skill has been improving *some* but I hardly ever get to put it into practice because my dough is usually unworkable. At the moment maybe 1 out of 10 breads coming out of the oven are anything approaching decent which seems like an awful waste of flour and time. I've taken to practicing with some 'dummy dough' (usually just flour and water mixed) but nothing learn ever seems to translate to the real thing.