2 Lessons learned in getting an open crumb
In my never ending crusade to figure out how to open up my crumb, I have tinkered with every formula, mixing, folding, and shaping variable, with some moderate success, but never consistent. Yesterday I tried something new: I put my stone on the bottom of the oven, above the flame, where I normally put it for pizza, at 490 degrees, and voilá!
So, Lesson #1: Pre heat your oven well, especially your stone. I should have figured as much from Hammelman's centerfold pictures of 4 different baguettes baked w/ an w/o stone and steam. The stone is what opens up the crumb!
Lesson #2: Don't overheat your stone (or don't leave it on the bottom deck after it's at temperature):
Totally charred the bottom of my baguettes. This picture doesn't quite do the damage justice, but it will suffice.
Next time I"ll heat the stone up to 475 on the bottom of the oven, and then move it to the center of the oven just before loading the bread. Hopefully the effect will be the same!
This formula was basically the BBGA's recipe of 40% poolish, but I boosted the hydration to 69%. The dough was too weak, though, and my shaping was too light to get a good ear. I'm going to see if I can get a similar effect with a hydration closer to 66% or 67%. Boy do I hope that this is finally the answer I've been looking for!