Stretch and Fold Questions - French Bread from Bread Baker's Apprentice (BBA)
I have been making baguettes using a new-to-me recipe, the French Bread recipe in Peter Reinhart's book The Bread Baker's Apprentice (15th Anniversary Edition). This is my second attempt at this recipe. The first bake turned out reasonably well.
The recipe calls for four "stretch and fold" operations at 30 minute intervals. You grab the end of the dough, pull and fold it 2/3 across, then fold the opposite side all the way across. Turn 90 degrees and repeat. Done.
The problem for me is that by the second or third stretch and fold operation, the dough is so tight and inelastic that it does not want to stretch. Another problem is the dough is fermenting and growing quickly, with large bubbles forming inside. Ambient temperature is in the low to mid 70s (F). Here are my questions:
1. Is it normal for the dough to become "unstretchable"? Should I be resting the dough longer than 30 minutes between stretch and folds? What am I missing here?
2. Should I be degassing the dough at the start of each stretch and fold, or allow the large bubbles to form and the dough to grow?
3. Is there something that I may be missing about the four stretch and fold steps or the next step (hour long fermentation) that comes before shaping ?