The arrival of my couche from Amazon and the first loaf formed in that couche motivated me to find simple answers as to how to get better looking loaves. This second loaf is a little bit better shaped but I did observe that using the couche allows for greater horizontal expansion of the dough. Perhaps what I'm looking for is a loaf that is more stout than long with more of a belly. I used the shaping method as diagrammed by Mebake over at The Fresh Loaf.
There's also a possibility that I may be running into a wall here because of my usual inclusion of a good portion of whole wheat flour. An additional 40 g of wheat germ in the form of a soaker may have contributed to weakening the gluten.
Finally, I may have to start planning smaller loaves or changing my recipes to be big enough for two loaves, something I'm loathe to do for two reasons. First, I think my mixer isn't large enough to handle that much dough, 1200 g give or take a few grams. Second, storage space in my freezers is limited by their capacity. They're small from an American viewpoint and things have a knack of being overlooked when they get full.
Until I find the technique or answer that I've overlooked so far, I think this recipe would be just fine for use in a boule.
150 g at 80% hydration
40 g wheat germ
30 g water
All of starter
All of soaker
270 g bread flour
90 g stone ground whole wheat flour
240 g water at 85F
10 g kosher salt
Somebody from Albania stopped in for a look during the past few days.
Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.