I baked another batch of sourdough today using my normal method (extra hot oven, steam in an iron pan, pre-heated baking stone). It is interesting to compare the loaf from today with the loaf from yesterday that I baked with the French oven method from the NY Times article that we've been discussing:
Sorry it isn't a great picture, but it is the best I got before it started getting dark here.
The French oven one is on the right, traditional on the left. Today's has around 5% whole wheat flour and 5% dark rye flour. Both loaves are very good, but of the two I think today's has superior crust and got better oven spring. If anything, it was less developed going into the oven, but, boy, did it pop. In the French oven it popped some.
I do have to add that one plus of the NY Times approach is that you don't jeopardize your oven's electronic system while trying to steam the oven. I haven't had any problems with my oven, but many folks here have.
One other odd thing to mention about today's loaves.
My starter yesterday smelled a little... weird. I was thinking cheesy, but when I took a whiff this morning it came to me what it smelled like: mustard. Like mustard, it was acidic but... not a sharp, crist acidic smell, more of a chubby, umami-ish kind of acidic. It is hard to explain. Anyway, it didn't look bad, it rose extremely well, and the loaves taste great, so I'm not too worried. I just thought it was odd.