Sorry, I didn’t mean to leave you hanging like that…!
So to get a really well risen dough and crispy bubbly exterior, you need to get steam in your oven and loaf. To get the bread to rise really well, and have the “ear” you see on a loaf, you start with a higher hydration loaf (the water turns to steam which helps the rise).
For the exterior part, to get a crust like this, you can create a steamy environment in your oven (I’m sure you see where this is going…).
I read all the blogs and techniques and what not - my approach ended up as; filling a cast iron pan with bbq lava rocks, which you heat up for a couple of hours during the proofing steps, and a pan with damp teatowels, all in the bottom of my oven.
What you need to do in the 60 second window you have to put your loaf in is:
- Get your loaf on it’s baking stone.
- Pour boiling water onto your teatowel pan.
- Throw cold water over your hot lava rocks to make a huge amount of steam.
Turn out, on my (old) (and cheap) oven, that breaks the thermostat and randomly turns the oven off for the duration of the bake, thus negating the impact of your steamy oven making technique…
Replaced the oven, but have not tried said technique since!