This is the actually the second attempt. The first loaves stuck to the bannetons. Much soul searching ensued. I have found both times that the dough is quite sticky to work with. I made several changes this time:
1. Fed culture 3 times before building levain (vs. building straight from fridge after week or two of no feeding);
2. Full hour autolyse (vs. to 20-30 minutes);
3. Mixing in Kitchen Aid, dough reached recommended temp (vs. sticky, frustrating hand kneading)
4. 2 folds (vs. 1);
5. Pre-shaped, followed by bench rest (vs. not);
6. Final proof in cloth inside bannetons (vs. not)
7. Though I never got this far last time due to the disaster, use of lava rocks, with 2 cups. I have a Blue Star range/oven, and the steam seemed to exit the oven very quickly. I did two subsequent steamings, but didn't get the same amount of steam as the first time. I'm thinking of separating the lava rocks into two different containers next time.
Result from my point of view. I'd appreciate your thoughts:
1. Great color
2. Do razor blades only stay sharp for a few cuttings? I had difficulty making the cuts, and the bread shows it. Oven spring was not bad, considering.
3. Crust is good, nice and crunchy the first day, pretty hard to slice. Perhaps a little too thick?
4. Crumb - here is where I have several questions.
a. Clearly more holes on the top. Final proof had seam side up, so is it underproofed? [EDIT: I've since seen dabrownman's claim elsewhere that this is due to lack of preshaping with bench rest--ouch! I did both after watching Hamelman's video 10 times!] It proofed 2:45, 15 minutes longer that Hamelman's max due to oven taking longer to preheat than expected.
b. The crumb is good, but fairly heavy, too. I've certainly had store bought artisan bread that is similar, but I also assume the poor lame cuts and possible shorter steam lead to reduced oven spring, and thus denser crumb.
5. Overall flavor is quite good. The family loves it. It has artisan bakery qualities. My culture is no longer very sour. I tried to refresh it up to sourness with WW flour feeds at 84 (the highest I could get), but it wasn't enough. I have ordered the Brod & Taylor device. It felt great to do the pre- and final shaping from Hamelman's videos and book. I wish I could spend a week working on my dough handling skills.