Silicone baking equipment question
I'm new to bread baking, starting this past summer, and have been very encouraged so far with the varieties of sourdough-based breads I've made with much help from this site and others. In general, I've been working with 70% hydrated dough until I develop better baker's hands to work with something wetter and I bake either in a dutch oven or on a baking stone with steam for batards and baguettes. So for Christmas, I received a Lékué silicone bread baking pouch. While I don't expect it to replace the normal way I make bread, I'm sure there are good uses for it such as for no knead dough recipes and wondered if folks out there who have used one can advise me with some questions.
- The silicone would seem to make working with higher hydrated dough easier, if you don't have to transfer it or handle it much. But wouldn't you still need to shape the bread before baking for good oven spring? And if so, would that defeat the advantage of using silicone for wetter dough?
- The crust from pictures I've seen seems lighter than I prefer. I'm not sure if that's because of the silicone itself, or perhaps the design. Has anyone tried placing the open silicone pouch inside a dutch oven to maximize steam during the early bake? Should the bread be removed from the pouch for the last part of the bake to create a better crust?
- Are there any other recommendations or suggestions with using silicone?
Thanks very much!