Meteil Hearth Loaf with Caraway & Onion

My most recent loaf was the best to date.

Meteil (less than 50%) rye baked as a “hearth” (not in a pan) loaf with caraway and onion flake.

The key? Spraying the crust with water at 2 minute intervals for the first 6 minutes (aka: 4 total sprayings,1 as it first goes in) to produce significant crunch.

Also, I stopped punching down to achieve a second rise before panning. I seem to have been exhausting the levin and thus creating dense final loaves with little to no oven spring.

Additional final adjustment was realizing that I was working so hard to make the dough not be “messy” that I was working in too much flour which (a) taxed the levin too much and (b) reduced available moisture to out-gas steam during baking.

Crust on the brink

Crust on the very brink of burning ends up with deep flavor and crunch

Airy crumb

By foregoing a second rise and relying on the flavor development from the slow fermentation pre-dough portions, a much lighter crumb is possible