Same bread recipe has gone from chewy to soft - why?
I have now made five batches of Crusty Italian Bread from Amy Scherber's book. The first three turned out VERY crusty with large holes. I was very happy with the result. However, the last two batches have had large holes and very good oven spring but the crust has been much softer. They make a perfect sandwich loaf but I cannot figure out why they are different in that regard. I use steam for all batches. Hydration is the same for all batches (I knead with water, not flour, to keep the dough moist/sticky).
The sponge is made the night before and refrigerated overnight. Then the dough is made from the sponge and again refrigerated overnight. The next day, I shape three 13oz baguettes, let 'em rise for a few hours, slash them and then watch them spring in the oven. They bake at 475 for ten minutes then another 8-10 at 450 and get pulled out when their internal temp hits about 205.
The first three batches would get harder as the days pass and cutting slices was more like sawing lumber, which I'm fine with. They were very, very chewy. These last two batches remain soft day after day - which I'm fine with, too, but I just gotta know why so I can control it.
Thoughts? Any more details I can provide to solve this mystery?