Refining the technique: Some questions
I've got some questions, and I'm looking for some suggestions. I'm a good cook, know my way around the kitchen and have baked bread off and on for years, but about six months ago I discovered no-knead bread making and have started making bread about once a week. I've refined my basic recipe to 500 gms of flour, 2 tsps of salt, 1/2 tsp dry active yeast, and 410 to 420 grms of filtered water. Most of the time I use a about 80% white whole wheat flour and 20% bread flour as the flour mix. I usually add 2 tbls of ground flax seeds, a cup of steel cut oats, and some honey. I do an 18- hour rise, punch down the dough, proof for 1 1/2 hours and bake in a cast iron Dutch oven covered for 30 minutes at 465, and then another 10 minutes uncovered. The internal temperature hits 202-205. Before I plop the dough in the Dutch oven, I drizzle a little oil into the pan so I can move the dough around a bit if the plop is more of a kerplop. I like the final product, and so does everyone who tries it, but.... (There's always seems to be a "but" in there somewhere. Isn't there
1. The bottom of the loaf is too dark. It's not bad, but it's not what I want. Could it be the oil? When I started baking with this method, the temperature was 475. I've cut that back 10 degrees, but the bottom is still too dark. The Dutch oven is an old one, all iron, no enamel, and very well seasoned. I have no sticking problems. I usually bake on the center level of the electric oven. Would movie up a level help?
2. The loaf is pretty dense. OK by me, and the hydroscopic effect of the honey produces a tender and moist crumb that will last four or five days before noticable staling. Today, I'm made a loaf using only standard white bread flour and put only 1/2 a cup of oats on the mix. Everything else in the recipe was the same, but the finished product got a much higher rise. I'd say the loaf was 25 % greater in volume or more.
So there. Any suggestions for the first entry, and explainations for the second.
Thanks for your help.