For my weekly batch of French bread, I tried autolyse again. This time I successfully combined it with a poolish.
My overnight sponge was 8 ounces bread flour, 8 ounces water, and 1/8 teaspoon of instant yeast. My autolyse the next day was 10 ounces of water and 8 ounces of flour. I let that soak for 20 minutes, then mixed in the poolish along with 1 tablespoon salt and 1 heaping teaspoon instant yeast. I then mixed it in the stand mixer, adding an additional 3 or 4 ounces of flour until I had a dough that was slack but more substantial than a batter.
Fermentation was 3 hours, with 2 folds an hour apart. I divided it in two for final shaping and used a lot of flour so that I could handle it without it sticking. It actually toughened up and shaped better than I had expected.
I let it rise 90 minutes while preheating my baking stone at my max oven temperature, 550. I used to not be impressed by the baking stone, but I've found that if you preheat it at max temperature for at least an hour you do get a significant increase in spring.
I threw them in the oven, added steam, and reduced heat to 475. I think they took about 20 to 25 minutes to bake: the hot stone also reduces baking time noticeable. Very good results, nice open crumb.
I'll try to bake this one again next weekend and post photos.