I re-discovered the “no-knead bread” video and then found the Cooks Illustrated modification (making it now nearly no-knead, but still very easy) but in the process have been learning about “proofing” the final rise, and this is the best description I have found so far (http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/24941/help-pain-au-levain-crust), so I shall share it here. When I finish refining my version of the recipe for how I make it I will post the whole thing later.
- poor oven spring
- greyish crumb
- greyish dull crust
- dense gummy texture
- sometimes unpleasant yeasty smell and/or flavor
- when slashed before baking, loaf significantly collapses
- dough feels sticky and flabby after bulk rise or final proof*
- dough collapses when poked with finger (more than just a little indentation)
- dough explosions (out of the side, bottom, etc), extreme oven spring
- poor crust color (light-brown or grey)
- Some bubbles in crumb with dense dough around them
- Unevenly distributed dense areas of crumb
- Dough immediately springs back when you poke it with your finger
- Dough feels very firm and dough-like, no sense of lightness.
- If you blow a really big bubble, it’s flabby and collapses: that’s overproofing.
- If you blow a really tiny bubble, it’s really firm and unpopable: that’s underproofing.
- Somewhere in the middle is the perfect bubble, with good surface tension, that won’t immediately pop if you were to poke it, and can hold its shape: that’s correctly proofed.