My "Metal Cloche" Experiment
I was inspired by those trying to improve the grigne on their bread by using metal bowls or aluminum baking tins to cover their loaves. Since I was doing a batch of "local rye", I thought I'd give it a try myself.
Here's the formula I used  (PDF) to make 3 x 750g/24oz boules using locally grown and milled Brule Creek Farms Dark Rye  (40% of total flour) and Partially Sifted  (60%) flours. I used locally-produced cracked wheat  instead of cracked rye because that's all I had in the house.
- Mixed poolish and let it ferment ~20 hours: 1/2 at room temp, 1/2 at fridge temp.
- Mixed fermented poolish with remaining ingredients, "autolysed" for 15 minutes, kneaded then fridge fermented the dough for ~24 hours (rose about 1.75x instead of double).
- Divided and shaped dough, followed by 90 minute proof at room temp.
- Sprayed water on the boules and slashed before I loaded them into the oven.
- Into the oven onto a baking stone (with a mixing bowl over one of the loaves) at 500F with steam for 5 minutes, followed by another 55 minutes at 400F - internal temperature ended up being 205F.
Here are the results - the uncovered loaves ....
.... versus the covered loaf
Crust on covered loaf was OK, but NOWHERE near as crusty as the uncovered loaves. Also, note the broader grigne on the uncovered loaves compared to the more delicate pattern (as well as cracks in the crust) on the covered loaf. These are all gift loaves, so no crumb shots from this batch.
I'm satisified with the look of the regular uncovered loaves (unlike my herniated ones in the past), and I'm not worried about the flavour based on previous batches, so they're all good enough to give away as gifts. Any feedback to improve the look of the covered boule in this instance, though, would be greatly appreciated.