I got my scale.
A little while ago, I asked a question on hydration percentages in artisan bread, and was reminded that I needed to use weight instead of volume for my measurements. That night I went and ordered a scale on Amazon for less than $10. It arrived yesterday, and I made my first loaf.
400g Flour (All Purpose)
8g Salt (2%)
2 TSP Yeast
286g Water (67.5%)
You were all very right, weighing by weight made a massive difference. I realized after weighing my cups I added almost 100g of extra flour the last time. Anyways, the bread turned out great, and I successfully used that French kneading method I was waiting to try. I finally got that dough texture I was looking for. However, I still had a few issues. First, I raised until the dough was double...a little more than an hour. After that, I cut one 350g piece of dough (Which I believe is the weight of a traditional French baguette?) and had an additional hunk almost the same size. I let them raise for more than two hours, but I was disappointed when I cut into my bread and found the same tiny cell sizes I am used to.
So, obviously, the first question I have is, how do I get the cell size to increase? The second question I have is about pans. I have been baking my bread on a cookie sheet. (Yes, how classy, I know.) Unfortunately, this makes for a very flat bottom, and it's far to stout to make a meter long baguette. I was quite pleasantly surprised when my dough started rising up instead of sideways in the oven, I suppose that is a sign that I have the correct hydration? Also, am I going to have to buy a specialized pan or is there some trick I'm not aware of? Oh, and before I forget, how is one supposed to keep the bread from sticking to the pan while remaining loyal to the four basic ingredients? I've been flouring the bottom of the pan, which helps a little, but the bread still sticks slightly.
In addition, I am finding that my scoring does barely anything. I am cutting rather shallow cuts, around 1/8 of an inch deep, is that too little? I find that my bread simply has slits, rather than the nice blooming lips I'm after.
As always, I appreciate any and all help given!