This is my second post after a long post on a similar topic a long time ago (maybe a year ago?).
In my previous post, I was concerned about how my dough seemed like it was becoming waterier over the course of proofing. At the time I was using a no-knead 24-hour rise recipe that, for me, started like dough and by the end of 24 hours ended like batter. Needless to say, it did not produce good bread.
I wouldn't say I totally solved that problem; rather, I worked around it. Assuming that my starter or technique were causing gluten breakdown, I started reducing my proofing times. I also started using a cookie sheet to transfer my dough into the oven -- when I try to pick up the shaped loaf to put in onto my pizza stone, it drastically changes shape, stretches out, and sticks to my hands (like a very high hydration dough might). This disruption, I think, is the cause of my flat, denser loaves I produce when I try to make free-formed loavs. When I use a bread pan, I can make good-tasting bread with a nice crumb and that I'm fairly satisfied with because I don't have to disrupt the bread at all after shaping. However, I don't like being restricted to a bread pan, so I'm back to this forum to find out where my problem could be.
I follow Shiao-Ping's Home Bread recipe that I got off of this site. I've tried reducing the recipe's overall fermentation time to 4.5 hours (also with about 20 hours spent in the fridge, which I've found doesn't affect runniness as much as out of fridge time) time and I've tried reducing the hydration to about 60-65% and still the dough tends to turn runny.
So what could be causing this? The fact that it seems to depend on temperature suggests to me that my yeast culture is particularly fond of protein, causing it to break down the dough's gluten too quickly. However, I have made very good pizza dough, bagels, and free-formed bread with it, so I think there may be an aspect of my technique at fault too. Kneading seems like an obvious place if we're thinking gluten breakdown, and I'm admittedly no kneading expert, but I'm skeptical because the no-knead recipes that are quite popular online definitely will not work with my starter. Shaio-Ping's stretch-and-fold technique also seems fairly straight forward, so I'm not sure how I could be messing it up.
I also have almost no idea how to shape a loaf properly beyond stretching it or mushing it into the shape I want. I suppose it's possible that this is part of the problem, but the fact that the runniness process starts even before I get to shaping suggsts otherwise.
Below is a (for some reason sideways) picture of my most recent free-formed bread. The crumb isn't bad and it's not too dense, but it spreads out so much just from gravity that oven spring (which did happen) can only do so much. It's the Home Bread recipe with a 4.5 hour overall fermentation time (plus 20 hours in the fridge) and a 65% hydration.
Thank you all for reading this long post, any advice would be much appreciated!