Hi from Ontario
After referring to this site for quite some time, I thought I'd finally say hello. There is truly an amazing amount of information shared by a real community of bakers. I'm interested in loaves of all kinds, home milling (which I haven't go into yet, but am learning about), laminated doughs, bagels and, well, everything!
I also thought I'd contribute as I've learned so much here.
I have made Thom Leonard's country french loaf quite a few times now, but, lazy baker I am, I've done it using a combination of methods different from the recipe. I prepare the levain about noon on the day before baking (I use the firm sourdough starter called for). That evening, I mix the dough according to the recipe, except for using a full 350 g of sifted whole wheat flour with about an extra 1/4 C of water in the dough to give it the hydration I want. (The recipe states 250 g whole wheat after sifting).Using Richard Bertinet's slap and fold method, I knead the dough for just a few minutes (maybe 3-4 minutes and it's not windowpaning at this stage) until it smoothly comes together, then I put it in a covered bowl to rest on the counter overnight. Next morning, I turn out the dough and divide it in 2.
Using Jim Lahey's shaping, I fold the dough over on itself to make a rough boule, then finish shaping it by turning it folded side down on the counter and rounding it like a very big, round bun. I put this dough, smooth side down in a floured banneton with a tea towel over the top for about 1 to 1/2 hours. In the meantime, I turn the oven to 475, with a bakestone on the bottom shelf and a large cast iron pot heating along with it. When the bread is ready to bake I take out the hot pot, turn the bread onto a parchment lined peel, score it with a lame and slide it onto the hot stone. I give the loaf a quick spray of water, then cover it with the hot pot, like the no knead bread. The loaf is baked for 30 minutes with the pot on, then the pot is removed and it is baked for another 10 to 15.
This combination of methods means very little hands-on work time (maybe 10 minutes, measuring and sifting included) and has given me fantastic bread that fits into a busy life. The loaves are light and flavourful, with a crackly crust.
I hope I've contributed something useful. :)