Dough allergic to itself
Desperation drives me here as a neophyte bread maker over a persistent kneading problem.
I've made recipe breads successfully over the years but, I want to advance to more complex breads.
For the last 15 times, I have been trying to perfect Peter Reinhart's Yeasted Bagels.
10% of the time the dough comes together instantly.
I carefully weigh all my ingredients but, do not have a water thermometer yet so use my wrist. The poolish is treated with exactness and shows good ferment after it has sat out for an hour. I am using unbleached organic white flour. While the recipe calls for instant, I only have dry active yeast which I let rise in the required 1/2 cup for 3 minutes. Unlike the recipe, I mix the honey in with the yeast prior to mixing it in with the dry ingredients. I knead on a soapstone counter. The room is 66 degrees Fahrenheit.
90% of the time I can tell I will have THE PROBLEM as soon as the dough is mixed because seems too dry. On different times I have tried to resolve the problem by 1) kneading the requisite time despite this 2) Adding water after kneading 3) letting the dough sit then kneading again 4) kneading at twice the required time 5) changing the bag of flour I am using 6) Changing my kneading technique
Sometimes I make the dough really wet after its obvious kneading won't correct the problem. Nothing solves the problem.
Despite the dough becoming very smooth and elastic and firm, dough starts to tear and break in the centre where it grows more and more allergic to itself, showing raggedness and failure to stick even when I turn it inside out and reknead it. Dough never passes the windowpane test. Eventually, it starts ripping on the outside of the ball. I have a photo but, can't figure out how to post it.
I am feeling rather discouraged so any help would be appreciated.