Combo Cooker - Too hot?
I'm cooking with a combo cooker, and there's a lot to like about it, especially in my convection-only oven. The crust comes out very nice. But I think I may have been taking this preheating thing too far. I preheat the combo cooker to 500 degrees, and am very quick with the load. You can hear the bread sizzle when it drops in, and today the cast iron burned a hot pad. Yet no matter what I do, the bread is coming out with virtually no oven spring, far less than I get with a pizza stone & steam. I know it's not gelatinization because when I take off the cover at 20 minutes, the surface of the loaf is still pale and moist. I am often guilty of some overproofing, but again, I get much more spring with pizza stone & steam.
I just learned that oven spring is primarily driven by the yeast, not steam inside the loaf. I had thought steam was the main driver, so I kept pushing to heat the loaf faster with more and more stored heat.
But the yeast dies at 132F. I'm now thinking I got so good at heating the loaf rapidly, I'm reaching yeast kill within two or three minutes of starting the bake before they can drive oven spring.
Has anyone else observed anything like this? I'm now thinking if i start the bake with a cold combo cooker, the time it takes to heat up the cooker will allow for proper yeast-driven oven spring.