Where are my ears?? :(
Good morning fellow bakers!
No, I did not lose my ears, but my loaves are in serious trouble! I've been trying to improve my techniques but I keep coming with a very smooth crust all the time. You can see where I slashed the dough, and you can see it opened up a bit, but no ear! I would loveee to hear your experiences and tricks or those "ahaaa! moments". I have been doing research and reading posts in here and everything and I have some hypotheses of why my bread doesn't have ears.
1) My shaping techniques are not as good as I thought: I tried to give the dough tension, and I thought I was doing an ok-to-almost-good job, put the dough in the basket and wait! but the moment I put the dough on the stone or in the dutch oven, it seems to spread all over the place (lower hydration doesn't have that problem).
2) Slashing technique: this one is a given, it requires practice. I'm just not sure of how to score different shapes. I keep reading the angle, the depth of cut etc... Plus, seriously! How do you guys score high hydration dough without dragging it with your lame? It can't only be "cut with confidence" can it? lol
3) Steam, steam, steam!!! I've tried different methods. If I'm baking on my stone, I make sure there's a tray underneath and I pour a cup of boiling water when I put the bread in. I also spray the bread and sometimes I open the oven and spritz more water on the walls. If I use my dutch oven I spray a bit of water on the bread, I have also tried to put an ice cube in and close the dutch oven (I think this one really works). In general, I don't think I create enough steam. I have a conventional electric oven with the resistance on the bottom part.
4) Oven temperature. Maybe it's too hot? I don't think so, I use to preheat my oven at 450-475F and then reduce the temperature to 425-450F.
Sorry for the long post!