Well, I took all of your comments with me to the kitchen, and turned out the loaves you see below:
Not too dissimilar from my previous attempt, however I did note some differences:
- They're hard to make out, but you might be able to spot the holes in the top of the left loaf where I tried to dock each of the loaves using suggestions on my last blog entry (this was done prior to proofing). I didn't have a pencil handy, but I did have a chopstick, and used it to make half-inch or so holes along the top of the loaves. The dough was still pretty sticky and clung to the chopstick, so I'm unsure whether they had any lasting effect, or if they just closed up again during proofing. The loafs tore along the side as you can see.
- The fermentation times were changed, in the order of 12 hours for the first rise, then about 18 for the second (including 9 hours at room temperature, 8 hours in the fridge while I was at work, and 1 hour returning to room temperature). Proofing was two hours. The final loaves are not nearly as tangy as my previous attempt, and taste much more like the loaves we buy from the grocery (the word that came to mind was 'mainstream', but I'm not sure that's appropriate!).
- On the suggestion of a friend at work, I used a spray bottle to moisten the top of the loaves immediately prior to loading them in the oven. The resulting crust is much softer than the previous attempt, and not as chewy. I'm not sure if there's a direct link there, but it certainly seems that way.