Christmas Baking and Experiments...
Well, I finally got to use my new Lodge Combi Cooker... and compared it head to head with my cloches (and tested my steaming too!). I made three breads - Tartine (my way - with more levain since mine is so mild), my normal sourdough boule, and my take on Eric Kayser's Pain aux Cereales. The three breads are shown in the photograph below in the clockwise order listed from the upper left.
These were actually made from two doughs. The Tartine dough was about 75% hydration and a bit too wet. This loaf was baked in the Combi Cooker on parchment. It is definitely glossier than the other breads suggesting that the Combi Cooker holds humidity better than the cloches or than I get steaming. Unfortunately it is a hair overproofed as I as a bit later getting home from my workout than planned. Still, a nice looking loaf that will taste good. This was the second Tartine loaf baked in the Combi Cooker today. The first was put on semolina and it glued itself to the cooker. It didn't burn but was fairly dark and what a mess. The crumb of the stuck loaf was pretty good though as shown in the photo below. Both loaves baked in the Combi Cooker were started in a cold cooker. Both had bottoms I consider too dark. The sticking was an interesting problem. Parchment worked well but... is a pain IMO. I baked two loaves in the cloche in the same oven and both came out a hair darker but not as glossy. And the bottoms were nicely browned instead of a bit charred. In round one I give the advantage to the cloche but it will take more experiments to make sure it isn't some other variation.
The crumb is coarser than it appears in this photo but was almost certainly affected by sticking to the banneton! My last batch of Tartine was at 72 % hydration and was much more manageable!
The boule to the right is my standard house boule. It is clearly a tad underproofed but has the look I like. It was at 72% hydration and was totally cooperative! It was baked in a cloche heated in a 500 degree oven and set to 450 once the bread was in the cloche. It and the Combi Cooker got 18 minutes closed and 28 minutes uncovered at 450.
The batard in the foreground is the same dough as my boule (but with about three tablespoons of seeds per loaf soaked in water added to the dough at the second folding. The dough is formed to a batard and was baked 12 minutes with steam at 440 F and 20 minutes at 390 with convection. All the loaves showed an internal temperature of 209 F when removed from the oven.
Here is a photo of the Combo Cooker (left) and Cloche (right) boules.
They are pretty similar but the Cloche loaf had slightly greater oven spring and rip.
Now to give them away!