I've been continuing practicing my baguettes and have progress to report. I've lowered my hydration yet again to 71% and the dough is even easier to shape and more importantly score. While there's still some room for improvement, I was able get some nice ears on the last few loaves.
I was a bit surprised to get such a nice shine and caramel color on these loaves. I suspect this is beacause of more aggressive steaming than I usually do. The past few bakes I've only sprayed the sides of the oven, this time I also poured a cup of water in a pan right before baking and wasn't afraid to spray the top of the loaves while they were cooking (just the first 10min). I'll continue to steam with both water in a pan and spraying the entire oven (being careful to not spray the oven light).
The taste, crumb and crust were excellent all around. I really enjoyed eating these! Again a lower hydration didn't seem to impact the crumb much at all. Granted I only reduced my hydration a few percent.
Tomorrow will be a busy baking day. I'll be making some more baguettes and a few boules and oval loaves with 15% whole wheat. I just received a beautiful couche and brotform from SFBI and a lame, which I can't wait to use.