Finally got oven spring, question about crust...
Hey everyone, brand new for the most part, only made half a dozen loaves or so, concentrating on just an artisan round bread, I think they call boule? Anyway so tonight was the first one I'm really proud of I guess, i'm only using APF as my starters are no where near ready, so I'm just practicing. I'm concentrating on crum texture and a nice crust and this is what brings me to my issue. The recipe I'm using is the master recipe in "artisan bread in 5 minutes a day", however I feel like their recipe is sooooo wet that most of my boules are just flat, only a few inches high at best b/c they spread out instead of up. I figured this was due to being unable to "tighten" the gluten enough to get it to fight the spread and b/c my stone was not getting hot enough due to a large water pan I use for steam. Even though my crumb has gotten really nice and the texture and feel of the bread when eating is great as well, I just haven't been able to get that elusive "oven spring" they talk about.
So I made 3 changes today after measuring my stone with an IR thermo and seeing that the steam was killing the heat so that the bottom was still white and the top would burn. I decided to nix the steam pan completely after several "different" tries with it, and my stone came right up to temp. The second thing I did was put a roasting pan over the bread for the first 15 minutes to create a makeshift "dutch oven steamer" using just the moisture in the dough. The last change was I added a bunch more flour to the mixture after taking it out of the fridge to mix it up for the proofing. I made it much dryer and kept stretching the dough around until it was tighter than I had ever gotten it and held more of a "ball" shape. The result was the picture below, almost exactly what I was aiming for!
This is the crumb from my last one that was much flatter:
The crust didn't have that "shine" that when I use the steamer pan and spritzer has. Should I have maybe spritzed the dough a good amount right before putting the pan over it? I'm guessing maybe there wasn't enough steam inside the pan from the dough, maybe b/c I made the mixture much drier than ever before. I'm looking for that perfect crust and thought maybe some of you all could tell me what would get me there. Also how "crusty" should the bread be, I mean when it cools down should make a bunch of "crackly" noise when you tear or cut it? Mine does right after it comes out of the oven, but when it cools down the "hardness" of the crust is substantially reduced, is this normal? Thanks for any insight!