Okay, I made 22, 600g loaves of country wheat. I heated the oven with Mesquite, burning about 15 logs for 4 hours. When my dough had done it’s final rise for 4 hours I spread the last of the coals across the oven floor. I had been soaking my door in water most of the day and had all my baking tools laid out and ready. After about 20 minutes I had cleaned out the hearth chamber and mopped the hearth. The oven was holding about 575°f and I had laid an old frying pan filled with water inside just to the left of the interior door arch (for steam). I needed to drop the hearth temperature to about 500°f or I would burn the bottoms of the loaves and the crust would form prior to the oven spring and rise. In short I needed to get the center of the loaves cooked before the crust or the loaves would be too moist in the center, smaller and denser. I gave the oven a second mopping and the temp dropped. I tossed in my cornmeal and it stayed a medium brown color so I cut my loaves and loaded the oven, sprayed the oven with a water bottle and draped two wet kitchen towels over the door and sealed the oven. I did 25 minutes soft and 25 minutes hard (without steam) baking. The bread looked good but the ears had not developed fully and the loaves were smaller. I cut into one and I found three things. First the flavor of sourdough was markedly increased from the last batch, next the dough was heavy and moist, last the crust was thicker. Overall this was very nice bread, far better than one can buy in our little town but… I would give it a 95. My last batch was a 100.
Here’s what I learned. My mistake was in trying to force a ton of mass heated up to 575°f to drop in temperature by 75°f in a few minutes. By mopping I had dropped the surface temperature by the 75°f but the masses interior temperature was not changed. As soon as I injected the steam, the oven jumped right back up to 575°f and immediately formed a hard crust that held both moisture and shape. This stopped the bread from rising properly. I have no idea why the bread had a stronger sour flavor except the flavor might reside in the moisture. I bake in two days, wish me luck!