@lshafer1 Bummer. I’m sorry the flavor wasn’t your thing. Lucky birds
@PLBT Definitely look at a lot of the photo galleries in the recipes on the blog here.
You will see many before and after photos of bulk fermentation and final proof. And as @easummers wrote, you’re going to have to do some trial and error. You’ll gain confidence the more you do and observe–with all of your senses, not just sight.
In fact, if you do recipes with stretching and folding, it can be hard to judge dough expansion because each round of stretching and folding de-gasses the dough a bit. So now you’re relying on the sound of the dough (crackling), the aroma, the look of the surface and, here’s the big one: past experience. Repeating the same recipe several times helps grow your experience, as does changing one variable at a time. A refined flour dough will have a different surface toward the end of the bulk (poofy bubbles and thin blisters) than a whole grain dough (fewer bubbles, maybe popped), for example.
Fortunately, the range of fermentation that produces tasty and attractive bread is pretty wide. Take this experiment for example: different length bulk fermentation and different shaping tightness. All the bread turned out well. (This experiment doesn’t test big time differences…I think good bread can come from a bigger range.)
@dvhirst865 I’m sorry to hear your dough isn’t rising.