I should have let it rise longer. Then it would have been less compact and dense. What is called la mie — the crumb — would have had bigger air pockets in it. Never mind — the crust was crunchy and tasty. It was very good bread, as you can see. Since the woman who delivers bread to our house four times a week is going on vacation for 10 days, I'll be making this again.
I made bread the other day because we ran out of bread from the freezer and I didn't feel like firing up the Peugeot and running down to a boulangerie in Saint-Aignan just for that. Recently I've been looking for and buying different kinds of flour, just experimenting, especially for making bagels. I had bought a kilo bag of farine à pain — high-gluten bread flour — at SuperU, so that's what I used. I'd never noticed that bread flour was available before.
Basically, I followed the package directions. Flour, water, salt, and a package of yeast (5.5 grams). I turned the oven on to heat it up to just 50ºC (120ºF) and then I turned it off. I kneaded the dough for a few minutes, first in a stand mixer and then by hand, shaped it into a ball, and put it in a bowl. I set it in the warm oven and covered it with a dish towel. It rose for just over an hour. Next time I might let it rise in the fridge overnight.
Then I took it out of the oven and out of the bowl, kneaded it again briefly, and shaped it into, well, the shape you see. I cut several gashes in the top with a sharp knife. I let it rest for 15 minutes. When the oven was up to temperature (220ºC / 450ºF), I put the loaf in the oven on a baking tray. I didn't even use the bread/pizza stone. But I did set a shallow pan of water on a rack underneath the tray to make some steam in the oven. That's how you get a good rise and a crunchy crust. When it was done, I dusted the top with a little flour, just for looks. The village boulanger's bread is better, but this will do the job for a few days when needed.