I am using a cuisinart brick oven. It seems to work well. It doesn't heat up the kitchen like the gas oven. The only problem I have is that my crusts are really hard. What do you think I can do to correct this.
Don't know anything about Cuisinart ovens or whether or not you can introduce steam into them or what kind of bread you're baking. But if you're not introducing steam at the beginning of the baking cycle (assuming you're baking rustic bread) you're going to have a problem. Pan loaves shouldn't cause a problem because 3/4 of your loaf is encased in metal. Having said that, you need a heavy dose of steam during the first 10-12 minutes of the baking cycle to keep the skin of the dough moist during initial baking and oven spring. Without steam you're going to get a hard crust and probably not very good oven spring. Are you scoring (slashing) the tops of the loaves?
Howard - St. Augustine, FL
Well first of all I would think half the point of hearth bakng with a stone or the oven you named wold be to get a crisp crust. It would seem that you need to go back to the drawing board try breads with some fat in them like shortening or egg. Breads like that will usually have a more tender crust. I have seen people suggest adding fats to soem hearth type breads to tenderize them.
Thank's very much for the suggestions. I will definatly try the steam next time which should't be a problem. So far I have been doing SF Sourdough and part rye Sourdough. I am not sure what fat would do to them but I can't lose to much.
I think you will find the steam will help immensely. Re: the suggestion of adding fat to your dough. If you're making sourdough bread you need only 4 ingredients; water, flour, leavening and salt. DO NOT add fat. There's a category of doughs called "enriched" doughs that contain fat (butter, oil, etc.) and sometimes eggs. Sourdough is not an "enriched" dough.
Don't know if you have a good bread baking book, if not you should get one if you're serous about baking---and it sounds like you are serious. A very popular book on this site (I also use it) is Peter Reinhart's - Bread Bakers Apprentice (BBA). If you don't have it you should consider getting a copy. The recipes in BBA are winners and it's a great book. There are also other great bread baking books by other authors; Hammelman, Glezer, Levy Beranbaum, Leader, Silverton, Child, etc.