First "Success": How can I improve next time?
Today I had my first "success" with my sourdough.....instead of baking some kind of primitive building material, I actually made a loaf!! I think it's pretty decent, but would like to improve upon a few things. One, the crust is nearly burnt, despite my having to take this bread out of the oven "early" (before the recipe said it would be finished). The crust on the bottom and lower sides of the loaf is quite nice and brown, but the top is more black. Did I cause this by spraying water directly onto the top of my loaf during the first 5 min. of baking? I have a convection oven, but turned the convection fan off, due to the recommendation in Reinhardt's book "Crust and Crumb". Perhaps if I'd kept the fan on, the color would have been more even?
Also, the interior is lacking in "holes". It is nice and chewy and has an acceptable flavor, but I'd like to see those nice big, irregular holes. This dough did seem stiffer than the recipes I've made in the past....it seemed more like a "normal" yeasted bread dough to me....perhaps that is to account for the lack of "open crumb" (is that what you call it??). If I made the dough slightly stickier next time, do you think I would get more holes?
FYI, I have been using Nancy Silverton's "Breads of La Bread Bakery" book and using 100% moisture/flour starter. I made her beginner's sourdough recipe.
Any tips for this beginner would be much appreciated!!