Stuck at the mixing stage
I'm still a noob and I'm trying to deconstruct my trouble spots. I'm focussing on French bread from Reinhart's BBA. The end symptom is still too dense loafs.
I made the preferment in the machine (KA Artisan), and on the next day autolysed (water, flours) for about 1/2 hr. I hand kneaded everything after that, hoping to get a feel for it. 45 minutes or so of kneading, got to about 79 or 80 degrees, and could not pass the windowpane test. Shreds instead.
Stuff: Using King Arthur unbleached All Purpose and Bread flours, and instant yeast. I weighed the flours and water (measuring spoons for the small stuff though). Don't know what else to mention....
Oh. I gave up (probably bad choice) and didn't finish the loaves, so I can't say how they were this time. But this has been a typical experience.
One last thing. I have tried a few loaves by now, all too dense. For the heck of it I tried Ciabatta, but soaked the heck out of the dough. (I forget the % hydration, but it was wet and hard to handle). The results were so so, and the crumb was getting in the right direction, bigger holes, somewhat lighter. FWIW.
Thanks for any suggestions.