Do you HAVE to punch down your dough? What happens if you don't? Is there a specific or best way not to?
I love how soft and fluffy dough is after it rises and you punch it down. About 75% of the time I make Italian bread if that matters, normally I let it rise, deflate it, shape it, let it rest for about 30 minutes or so then bake it at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes (on average, theres a couple other breads that vary in temp and time). However I I was wondering if I HAVE to deflate it? What would happen if I DON'T deflate it?? I just gently shape it into a ball or loaf or whatever shape I'm doing, then rest it and bake it? I understand deflating is supposed to make a better crumb. But I LIKE large air holes! That's half the reason why I eat bread, lol. Also, is there a "best way" to gently shape it while not deflating it? And is there a "best" way to get air holes? I appreciate it, thanks!
*also I often bake a non knead Dutch oven bread that has large air holes but that's not what I'm looking for. I'm looking for an Italian with large air holes.
**also also, I'm sorry it's so many questions. I just like to be thorough! Thank you again!