Today I have made yet another loaf of French bread. I've followed the recipe from Mark's Black Pot pretty faithfully. I would have pictures for this blog of the preparation but it appears the mystery camera decided to not save them.
The night before I prepared as described in Mark's blog post. About 20 hours later I set into making the 2nd part of the dough. I kneaded for maybe 5 minutes which was probably the downfall of this loaf: reading more on the subject it seems that kneading is responsible for the bubbles in the bread. I thought I had a good windowsill-passing dough but it would probably have served me well to knead for maybe 3-5 more minutes. After two hours of raising with no punchdowns I pretty much just plopped the dough into the preheated dutch oven.
For coals, I did something like 12 good coals on bottom and covered the lid in used, tiny coals. After 20 minutes and the start of a brownish, burned tinge on the crust I took off all the lid coals. 20 more minutes were done with just the bottom coals.
The was certainly more flavorful and slightly more fluffy than my attempt at no-knead bread earlier. The crust was darker but only more crunchy near the top. I still am not a fan of the "just flour" taste and combined with my newly gained knowledge on kneading I feel confident enough to take on more flavorful breads.