I have been trying to duplicate bread like Il Fornaio's cibbata - elastic with big holes. Cooks magazine had a review of this type of bread in their Jan-Feb 1995 issue, and Harold Mcgee talks about it in his book, On Food and Cooking. Both say the secret is "hard flour" (high protein),"wet dough" and "lots of kneading" (preferably machine) and "long slow rises".
Having systematically approached this for the last five years, I have come to believe that these suggesions are exactly wrong. The nearest I have come to the elastic big hole ideal is General Mills All Purpose Flour, MINIMAL kneading(much to my amazement), no more water than that which allows hand kneading, and no big deal rise times. Lots of kneading gives a fine crumb, which I don't like, lots of water gives raw middles, exotic flours make little difference, and long rise times do nothing.
Am I crazy? Can the gurus be that wrong? Any thoughts or suggestions?