Every time I mix the Classic, I have a levain at 100% hydration, a nice frothy mass, merging with an autolyse a little below 64%, about the consistency of wet clay–not such an easy mix. I hesitate to suggest changing the formula, but is there any reason we couldn’t reduce the water in the preferment by 25% and put it instead into the autolyse?
In a 4-loaf batch, that translates to 50mg of water; the preferment’s share falls from 200g to 150g, the autolyse’s share rises from 1020g to 1070g, and that brings the hydration of each within shouting distance of the other–75% and 67%, respectively. The overall hydration stays the same, of course. 75% seems wet enough for a preferment, and an autolyse at 67% would be a lot easier to work with than one at not quite 64%.