I have been trying (failing) to make a decent French bread. I have followed formulas in Peter Reinhart, Rose Levy Beranbaum, and Daniel T. DiMuzio baking books.Dozens and dozens of times. But one thing that has me stumped is that I ALWAYS get gigantic bubbles in my fermented dough. When I dump out the dough onto the work counter and i start to shape the loaves , RIGHT THEN AT THAT PRECISE POINT I get giant bubbles in the dough. When I say giant, I mean huge, the size of peach pits. Needless to say, that makes shaping almost inpossible. In an attempt to locate the problem I went to the very , very basic dough; a lean straight dough. (in other words I deleated the preferment) TEST DOUGH: 280 gm A.P. Flour
182 gm water
1/2 tsp of instant yeast
1 tsp of salt
This is 65 % hydration. Measure water, Add instant yeast and stir. Measure Flour and add salt and stir well. . Combine the 2 mixes and knead by hand for 2 minutes in a S.S. bowl. Rest 15 min to hydrate dough. Hand knead 15 min. It always passes the windowpane test. Lightly grease a pyrex container and put the dough into the container. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let bulk ferment for 2 hours. By this time the dough has doubled and I can see tiny, tiny bubbles (smaller than grains of rice) thru the clear pyrex container, which is exactly what I want. I lightly flour a counter and dump the fermented dough onto the flour. (No problem so far) the dough is quite "spongy" and very sticky. I divide the dough into two pieces with a dough scraper. Still no problem. I very gently coax the dough into oval shapes. NOW HERE COMES THE PROBLEM. I gently lift the back of the dough up and over to the front and using my thumbs I press down and away with my thumbs on the seams (not touching or disturbing the main body of the dough) to seal the seam and tighten the "skin". Instantly I get huge bubbles in the dough. Now if it was only a matter of one or two bubbles then I´d say , No problem. But that´s not what happens. I get dozens and dozens of huge bubbles. It´s as if, quite suddenly, all of the tiny air pockets have decided to rush to make huge air pockets. I now have a dough totally covered with huge bubbles. GRRRR !
P.S. Please keep in mind that this test is not an attemp to make a flavorful bread , it ´s just a way for me to try to understand where the problem lies. Please help because I´m going crazy with this problem. Thank you