Crust Color Letdowns
After I returned home from my trip to see my parents, I was ready to fire up the oven and try the local flours I had found in New England. Unfortunately for my wife and I, the kitchen stove was leaking a small amount of gas when we got home. A utility worker found the small leak but it was inside the stove and we had to decide whether to fix an older stove or to replace it. I opted for the latter choice and the new Frigidaire stove was delivered and set up the next day.
Over the past couple of weeks, I've been dissapointed with the crust color on my sourdough loaves. I've used my general all-purpose 1-2-3 recipe that worked well for me in the past. My procedures in regards to oven temp and bake length remained the same and I haven't overmixed or overproofed. I have raised the hydration level from around 67% to around 70% to accomodate the Dakota Maid flour and the stone ground flour. I'm using a 50-50 mix of AP and rice flour in my bannetons but that hadn't caused any problems before. The flavor is good, the crumb is good, and there are no problems with ovenspring in the least. If it weren't for the pale color of the crust, I could go back to obsessing about shaping and slashing. The crust color has been quite pale to a very light gold. The crust itself has a good chew factor to it.
I do suspect that the the oven door may be my problem. It has what appear to be some vents at the top. So far, my only ideas are to find an easy method to add more steam than spraying water provides at the beginning of the bake or to use the "Magic Bowl" technique. I'm open to any suggestions about how I can get back on track before the holiday season.