Newbie attempts French Bread
Yesterday was my first time attempting anything other than enriched sandwich breads, and I decided to just go ahead and try the French bread recipe from BBA. I made the pate fermentee the night before, and then took it out of the fridge to let it warm up for an hour.
I think, looking back, that the hydration could have been higher. I'm still learning what the different hydrations feel like, and I don't think this dough was wet enough. Also, I didn't heat up the oven for long enough, so the amount of steam generated from my cast iron skillet wasn't substantial, and I ended up with a rather hard, chewy crust that I singed because the center of the loaf wasn't quite there.
I probably overhandled the dough, didn't score it deep enough, or shaped it too tight, I ended up with a rather tight crumb...delicious and moist, but tight. I also got over excited and shaped the dough as soon as it had doubled, instead of punching it down and letting it rise again as per the instructions...I don't think that caused my crumb issues, but it might have contributed.
Also, I don't have a baking stone so I baked it on the back of a sheet pan.
Here are pictures of the loaf:
Would you say my diagnosis is hitting close to the mark, or am I way off?