Everything just seemed to go right with this loaf - the shape, the colour, the way I was able to handle it, the crumb structure, and the taste!
My sister-in-law said it was the "best sourdough she had ever had". Now I know she's biased, but a compliment none-the-less.
The building blocks...
For the first time, I was able to do the bulk rise in the day and then complete the second rise overnight in the fridge.
I checked my starter at 2pm and mixed the flour and water in a bowl and left it to rest. Just before 3pm, I folded in the starter and salt and completed four stretch-and-folds over two hours. I then left the dough to rise at room temperature whilst we got on with our day (and made pizza).
At 12.30am (and after a few drinks) I pre-shaped the dough and left it to rest for 30 minutes on the worktop before transferring to the banneton, covering and placing in the fridge at 1am.
I removed it from the fridge at 10am, placed a piece of baking paper over it and inverted it onto a chopping board. The dough easily fell out of the banneton onto the board and had clear lines where it had expanded against the basket.
I then baked for 20 minutes at 260C with the lid on, 20 minutes at 230C with the lid off and left to cool in the oven for 20 minutes.
This was one of the most delightful loaves to bake. It was looking great when I took the lid off and browned really nicely. I wasn't able to cut straight into it as we were taking it to the in-laws for lunch - but it was worth the wait. The crumb structure was excellent, it had a great spongy, bouncy feel to it and just smelt gorgeous.