Where did I go wrong?
My first foray into artisan bread baking was a miserable failure! I tried to make pain de campagne (BBA, p. 195). I thought I was slavishly following the instructions in every detail, but the result was two dense, stunted, sad little boules with a small crumb, except for a flat hole near the top of the loaf, and a tough crust. What the heck happened to that oven spring I was expecting?
I had high hopes for the dough after combining all the ingredients-- it passed the windowpane test with flying colors.
On the other hand, my kitchen was pretty cold, in the low 60's. I also tried to prepare the oven for hearth baking, with a stone preheated to 500 (I thought), and a cake pan filled with simmering water. I spritzed the oven walls at 30-second intervals as soon as I got the loaves into the oven, which was not the smooth operation I had envisioned. I couldn't slide the boules from the baking sheet that I had dutifully lined with parchment and coated with cornmeal, according to the instructions, so I ended up shoving them off the sheet with my hand.
Any diagnoses? What should I correct next time?
I'm not accustomed to culinary failure. I suppose this is character-forming.