The crust was nice and crisp and the crumb chewy. Definately the kind of bread I like and a recipe I want to make again and get better with.
Congratulations! It looks wonderful, and sounds like you enjoyed it
The pre-ferment that seemed intimidating is the easiest thing.
Pre-ferments are wonderful, and so easy, just mix and let it do its thing There’s a whole world of variables for you to try and see what you like best: cold vs. room temp, time and hydration, and even the proportion of the total dough that is pre-fermented.
I also think some of it actually tore when I was slashing it.
Your slashes opened up some, but not a lot. This looks like it could have been a less than perfectly sharp knife, or a too-shallow slash, or maybe you waited a little too long in the proof before slashing. Slashing is an art, and I have yet to perfect it, but you can always go over a slash again if it isn’t deep enough. You really do need a very, very sharp razor blade or knife.
As Charles points out, it is better to slash a little early in the proof (when a gentle poke of the finger still fills in slowly) than too late. Charles also points out that doughs with lower gluten development don’t slash as nicely, and from the shape of your boule and the large bubbles, I do wonder if maybe your flour was a tad less strong than some American flours (this can be a good thing, tastewise, but it does affect the slash). If your flour was less strong, or your water measurement on the high side, that might account for a flatter shape to the boule, the large bubbles, and the difficulty slashing- really wet doughs don’t get slashed, too problematic.
I didn’t see anything in the book about how much dimpling you should do. Any suggestions for this step?
I really think this is a personal choice, if you don’t want the large bubbles press them out or pop them. They can be a normal sign of a higher hydration bread. Sometimes, if you don’t want a large bubble and you see one at the surface after final proof, you can design your slashes to cut through them.
Also, can you tell by looking at the “scarring” where I slashed the bread if it’s indicative of overproofing?
Hard to say. The degree to which a slash opens up is a function of how deep the slash was, how much “proof” was left in the dough, proper (hot) oven temp, and steam.
Nice job, and good luck working your way through the book!