San Joaquin Sourdough, Take 2...
The first time I baked this bread the results were tasty, but nothing to advertise. The loaf was ugly, and an edible learning experience. So we learned away at it! After some consultation with dmsnyder on technique and hydration adjustments I've tried again with results I'm more proud of.
Here's the loaf:
And the first crumb shot
and another crumb shot
And finally, a closeup of the slash on top
I think the very large holes in the crumb are from the slight over proofing I caused. It did not go so badly as to deflate, but I think there was a bit too much gas developed. If I'm right it is a credit to my firm starter, which I was thinking was a bit sluggish. This could also be from poor technique in forming the loaf, and I'll admit I have a long way to go there, but it looks like gas pockets to me, not an internal seam blow. I'm interested in what others think this might be as well.
Overall this is a huge improvement over my first attempt. Based on David's advice I reduced the water from 370 to 360 grams. I added three additional stretch & folds at 30 minute intervals on a very lightly floured board before putting it into the refrigerator for the long bulk fermentation. In order to get the loaf baked by bed time last night I stopped the bulk fermentation at about 18 hours and formed the loaf as prescribed here. I was surprised by how quickly the loaf proofed and did not get the oven started in time, so the loaf proofed a few minutes extra and the oven did without a few minutes of heat-soak time in preheating.
I baked the loaf with steam for 10 minutes at 500F then down to 460F. Steam was removed at 15 minutes, and the loaves were baked for another 25 minutes at 460F. I was trying for a bolder finish on this loaf so when I thought it was done I gave it 5 more minutes (included in the 25 minute bake time noted) before turning off the heat and opening the door. I still did not get as bold a bake as I wanted, but I was afraid to dry it out too much. Next time I think I will bo for a little more yet. After 5 minutes with the door open to dry out the crust I moved it to a rack to cool.
I did not cut into the loaf till late this morning when my photographer wife was available. We took the shots, then we had some of it with lunch! It has a wonderful flavor, and a light and tender crumb that is pleasantly chewy without feeling rubbery. Next time I will let the crust dry out longer before taking it out of the oven, and perhaps reduce the time under steam by a couple of minutes as well. The crust is not as crisp as I would prefer. It will give me something to work toward, so I can bake some more!