I posted this under Eric's SIMPLE SOURDOUGH CHALLANGE and here in my blog.
Ok, here's what I did. Yesterday I made a loaf and baked it the same day. Today I baked a loaf I had mixed yesterday. I'm happy with both but want some improvement and I want to try some things a little differently.
Yesterday I used my starter that was made with AP flour. I consider my starter firm but it's not kneadable. I started at 7am, followed directions using the high gluten flour but 1/4 cup of oatmeal instead of the whole wheat. I wanted to see if I could make a loaf the same day with no refridgeration. I did the S & F's as instructed. It's cold in the kitchen, the dough was taking forever to rise so I moved it to a warmer spot on the oven. I finally baked it at 5:30pm. I was very surprised to see blisters on the crust because I thought that only came with time in the fridge. (Was my kitchen that cold??) Anyway, the crust was both crisp and chewy. Crisp on the outside with a chewy underside. The crumb was very open with nice shiny air holes and chewy. Holes are almost too big, I think. Taste was excellent fresh and this morning made very good toast with butter dripping on my front. I'm happy with the rise but I want the nice round boule with high shoulders. Try again.
The important things for me are:
Use high gluten flour if you like chewy
I did the S & F's in the bowl. Let the dough rise to double, turned it out on a lightly floured board and GENTLY did a S & F, pulling the dough out and folding it over itself, preshaped GENTLY, let rest, shaped GENTLY and it only took an hour to rise enough to bake.
I baked it under cover (in my hot le creuset) as written. Lately I've been turning the oven down from the 450ºF to 400ºF but not this time and I think it helped make the shiny holes and the crisp top crust.
Yesterday when I mixed the first loaf I refreshed my starter with high gluten flour and it was ready for me to mix this second loaf at 4pm. I followed the recipe and was ready to put in fridge at 9pm last night. This morning at 7am I took it out. It was well risen so I turned the oven on at 7 and baked at 8am. I was trying for a nice round boule but used an oblong basket with linen that I folded up around the dough hoping to keep it round. Instead I ended up with a square loaf! The blistered crust is nice, the taste is great with a tiny bit of sour. Very chewy and if you don't like chewy I'd try using regular AP flour.
Getting the dough from my basket to the le cresuet and trying to slash was not easy so next time I'm going to turn the dough unto a cookie sheet and use the stainless steel cover. I know it will bake the same as the le creuset because I've done it before. The slashing was impossible once the dough was in the HOT pot so I just used scissors to cut some kind of pattern that didn't come out very pretty. Next time I'm going to do like hans and just turn the dough upside down and let the bread do its own thing.
Thanks Susan for all your hints and patience. Do you think your very firm starter makes a difference in the outcome? How do you get your dough to the baking surface from your colander? How do you get your boule to pop up so nice and round??