Problem with Italian Bread

Joined Feb 7, 2011
Hi, everyone!

I recently took up an interest in baking and have tried on a couple of occasions to make Italian-style bread. I have been using the formula in the Bread Baker's Apprentice.

The crust comes out with the right sort of look and texture, but the interior of the loaves resembles Wonder Bread; bright white, dense and spongy with uniform bubbles. I'm looking for the more traditional chewy bread with a butter-hued interior that features unevenly sized cavities.

Is there any way to diagnose the problem with my method based on this description?

I have two theories or leads:

1) The formula requires the shaping of the loaves without significant de-gassing. The description is pretty relative, but I'm certain that my handling of the dough causes a lot of gas loss. Could that be the issue?

2) Apprentice often calls for "the Windowpane Test", in which dough can be stretched to the point of translucence without breaking. As much kneading as I can do (and as high as I can get the temperature), my dough always breaks. Could that indicate the issue? If so, what are the common reasons for dough to be so inflexible?

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