Those huge holes are epic in the craft of sourdough bread baking. It's the highest form of accomplishment you can achieve, along with the soft crumb and crispy crust.
So what did I do right this time after months of experimentation?
Pre-heating my baking pan (Dutch oven) with my oven at 500F!
I also found more evidence of how a baking pan can affect the loaves:
The bread baked using a Dutch oven (Right) spread out and was wider in diameter and lower in height because the size of the DO was wide (9”). The cover provided the steam.
The bread baked using a skillet pan on the left (8”) rose by almost an inch more than the DO, but of course appeared smaller.
Both pans were preheated with the oven. Using parchment paper made it easy to put the dough into both hot containers.
I also did something strange—I mixed all the ingredients from the start (no autolyse) and stored it directly into the refrigerator (hoping it’ll “knead” itself. But the next morning, the dough didn’t have the window pane sturdiness I had hoped for so I did one S&F and bench rest. After 2 hours, I formed them and rested again for an hour. Did final proof for 3 hours in a basket, transferred to preheated pan and baked with steam for 20 min (again a new thing for me coz I always do it for 30 min then 10-15 min without steam). This one I baked further without steam for 25 more minutes.
But there was a difference in the crust. The DO-baked bread was crisper. And look at those crumbs. I’ve never had that much open crumb in my bread. Looks like I made it! I liked this best.
This is the best burnt-looking loaves I had so far. #Tartine copycatwannabe
Indeed persistence pays!