Elevation and effect on crust texture - I'm stymied and need help!
I live in Seattle and consistently make sourdough breads that have a russet-colored crispy/chewy crust typical of SF SDs. When we go to our cabin in Idaho - elev. 6500 ft - the crust is comparatively pale and has a dry, crackly, tough quality. The crumb is nice and open and I get impressive oven spring but I find the quality really disappointing.
I suspect the problem is the altitude and not just the fact that I'm working with a different oven. I've had the same disappointing results when I've used yeast (1 tsp) instead of my starter. Ditto with different steaming methods (on a baking stove with steaming towel/lava rock set up, and in a dutch oven).
I would really like to know a) there are bakers who are getting good chewy crisp crusts at high elevation, and b) what adjustments are you making to achieve that?
Thanks for any insight/ideas you can offer!