Some problems solved
With the loaf shown below I have managed to solve a couple of recent problems.
I mentioned earlier that I was having a spreading problem with my sourdough and other artisanal breads -- actually, anything not baked in a loaf pan. I speculated that this was because our water was softened. We had the water tested, and it came out as 1 grain (the equiv. of 17 ppm.) while Hamelman recommends between 100 and 150 ppm as ideal. We purchased some spring water just to test it; this was rated at 8 grains, or 134 ppm. It worked. Same recipe I have had trouble with, now no longer spreading all over.
A second problem with this particular recipe was a pale pale crust. Paler than Wonder Bread. I added 6 grams of diastic malt this time. Wow! Boule trial with harder water and malt
Because we have a very well-vented gas oven, I baked it under a stainless steel bowl. This was my second trial with the bowl and I am convinced. Real oven spring this time.
The crumb is the next area that needs work. I had some scheduling problems, and the dough was manipulated a little more than I had planned. The crumb is acceptable, but could be better. The taste is fine, though perhaps not quite sour enough, but I can work on both of those.
Thanks to Susan for the bowl idea and the Mike Avery for introducing the idea that overly soft water sould cause problems. Who would have guessed!