I'm new to sourdough baking, having now made four loaves (I've been baking yeast bread for three years).
My first loaf was fantastic, full of the big air pockets that I love and with a nice really chewy texture. But my next loaves have all been devoid of big air bubbles and their texture is much finer, closer to a yeast bread. Still very nice, but not exactly what I'm after!
My starter and dough are made from strong white flour, no rye in them. My starter is very healthy. I mix the starter with water, leave for 10mins or so, knead everything very well, prove in a banaton overnight and bake first thing in the morning (gas mark 8 for 10mins, then down to 6 for another 25mins).
Any suggestions why I'm not getting the big air pockets and chewiness any more?
It could be a combination of one or all of the above.
In general, higher hydration doughs will give a more open holey texture. I have also found that the gentler kneading techniques seems to favour the formation and retention of larger air pockets in the dough, The stretch and fold technique is the one that I mostly use. Also the dough has to be fully developed so that it can be stretched into a thin window without breaking and this again favours the persistence of the larger airpockets in the dough.
Good luck with your projects.
thanks for the advice farinam - guess i just need to keep experimenting & see what seems to make the difference. i haven't tried stretching my dough so will give that a go when i make my next batch.
This blog tries to show what I do.
Keep on bakin'