Why Open Crumb?
My grandmother was a farmer's wife and she made bread many times a week to feed my grandfather and their 6 children. They all worked hard and needed sustenance. Bread was a constant staple for them. Her bread was a sourdough made from a potato starter she kept under the sink. It had a real tang to it and when my family visited them, we loved it (not to mention her molasses cookies). Her bread was made for eating with butter and preserves and sandwiches later. It wasn't a brick but it was fairly dense.
Now there seems to be a trend towards open crumb bread. Here I'm talking about bread that has large holes in it. I don't get it. If I change my recipe and I work at it, I can get bread with lots of big holes, but why? It seems that many people go to extraordinary lengths -- lots of stretch and folds over long periods, high hydration, and complex techniques in shaping. In the end, they get bread with a very open crumb that is, in my opinion, not that useful except maybe for dipping in a sauce. Instead of utility, it seems more like a badge of honor to get the greatest open crumb.
I mention this because, I think, some new home bakers may feel like they just aren't that good at making bread. They can't get that open crumb that is the "ideal". Instead, I think the home bread-making community shouldn't focus on open crumb so much and talk about how to make bread that is just useful for everyday life. It's not that complex to make a useful loaf for the family but it does take some knowledge and skill. I've tried many variations in formulas and techniques, and without extraordinary measures, I still get a useful loaf. The beauty of the simple ingredients in bread is that it is very tolerant of "mistakes" and still offers a nutritious and satisfying augment to our lives.