A little help with my technique please....
So I have been making Sourdough for a couple of months now. My starters seem to be going well, I keep them both (ww and plain) in the fridge as I travel a lot and bake mainly at the weekend, so I take them out on Fridays, feed them up overnight and then bake over the weekend.
I am making pretty good bread. Certainly the best I have made so far. The family love it and so do I.
But. It's not good enough yet. There are two problems I'd like to address - firstly, the outside appearance of the loaf.
I am primarily using Susan's "More Sour" recipe - which to my calculations produces a 67% hydration dough. I've also done a few runs of the Tartine Basic Country bread with good results, but don't really want to confuse the issue with that until I get a cast iron dutch oven to make it in....so for the purpose of this post, my recipe is:
390g strong white organic bread flour
90g stoneground organic rye flour
280g warm water
240g 100% hydration active starter
11g quality sea salt
Here's one I made yesterday. As you can see, the dough hasn't really split apart properly where I slashed it - and that's what I want to fix.
My slashes turn out this way consistently and I'm not sure what's causing it. I'm baking on a 1" thick granite baking stone in an electric fan oven turned up to full (dial says 230C+), preheated for an hour or so, and with a ceramic dish under the stone into which I pour boiling water just before I put the loaf into the oven. I also mist the inside of the oven with water for an extra burst of steam. I'm tipping the loaf gently from the banneton directly onto the stone, then slashing with a razor blade and closing the oven door immediately, but I never seem to get the crispy edges and bursting appearance to the slash....any ideas?
Next, is the crumb itself. I'm not unhappy with it.....but I feel it could be better. It typically looks like this (from the same loaf):
To me, the crumb seems denser at the bottom, which seems strange as I would think the heat from the stone would expand the gas near to the bottom the most - but it looks like the top is expanding more. I'd like to get more/bigger bubbles in the crumb. Any thoughts on that? Maybe increasing the hydration some more?
Anyway....I'd greatly appreciate any input anybody can give me here to take my bread to the next level. We ate the one in the pictures yesterday. Some of it toasted and dipped into an oven baked camambert, some of it dipped into extra virgin olive oil and fig balsamic vinegar, and the rest with assorted cheeses after a big piece of roast rib of beef. It was tasty....
Thanks in anticipation!