I followed the sourdough starter project that Donna Currie initiated about 3 weeks ago avidly. I was ready to make my first loaf of bread last week, but mis-read the instructions (apparently I have ADD when I read a recipe....) and didn't use all of the harvested and "super-fed" starter in the dough. Needless to say, the dough was a dud.
But, I put the "excess" harvested starter back into the big batch, and kept on going. This week I was ready to harvest again, and actually did the technique correctly ! YAY me.
The bread I made was OUTSTANDING. The best flavor of any bread I've made, very sour. Lovely rise, and I was absolutely stunned at the oven spring. All without commercial yeast. Wow. Totally blew me away. I'm very pleased, the leftover loaf will be great toasted.
But. I'd love the initial loaf to have a thicker, crunchier, more "artisanal" (Lord, I hate that word, but) crust and a more open crumb. I'm a relatively novice baker, so would love some advice on how best to achieve that. Higher temp (recipe was 350° for 40 min)? Steam? Bread flour? I did bake the loaf on a stone, and the bottom crust was closer to what I wanted, but still not there.
Thanks in advance all, and Donna, thank you SO much for the tutorial. I'd been wanting to get a sourdough starter going for a long time, but was always put off by the quantities involved. This one is manageable, and I will keep the B*tch going for as long as I can !