Well, I am happy as punch with the latest version of my multi grain challah bread that is baked at 450F and steamed in the oven for 20 minutes -verses the cloche. But, I am disappointed I was not able to control my experiment to find out if the cloche or oven steaming method was better. The higher temperature worked best for both but, this attempt, the bread rose much higher and faster than the Wagner Ware loaf even though both were identical in every way. The only thing I can think of is that the starter, which was the same for each, was more mature and stronger than it was the week before.
I noticed this time, during the levain build, it doubled in 4 hours instead of the 8 hours it took the last time. This is a new SD starter that is less than 3 weeks old (started the sourdolady way). When the loaf went into the baking pan it appeared to be exactly like the cloched loaf. But, the version 4, did rise higher during fermentation and it also rose higher in the fridge during retard and rose higher after it was taken out of the fridge this morning - even thought the retard was 6 hours less and the final rise before the oven was 2 hours less.
All things considered, I think that either cloched or baked in a steamed oven, this bread works equally well both ways and it shows that that a fully mature and strong starter with a proper build is essential to bread making. I had half a loaf of the clotched verion 3 to compare in the photos that follow. The version 4 crum is far superior, lighter and open. The crust is the same as the clotched. I like the taste of the clotched better propably because it was hours longer in the making and developed more SD flavor.
I think I can reproduce version 4 and will figure out a way to slow it down and make the flavor a litttle better.
What can Ido to improve this bread now. Autolayse the flour before adding the levain. Cut down the amount of levain to extend the time. lower the temp of the ferment and post retard? Any thing else?
Here are the pics before retard.
After poor slash - My worse bread making skill by far
In the oven
20 minutes later steam comes out
Oven off and door craked open - temp 205 F
Version 4 twice as high as version 3
crumb shot and others