After reading the last two posts, I would like to offer a few suggestions. To McDuff: it is possible to make respectable bread in a rack oven -- not great or world class bread, but some that is very good and very respectable. Jackal is right, for the desired characteristic thin, crispy crust of artisanal breads, steam is necessary immediately after the bread is placed in the oven. Depending on how much bread is in your oven, twenty seconds could be too much. Too much steam can close the cuts made while scoring and penalize crumb quality and volume as a result. Any steam after that is redundant. Are you venting the oven during the latter stages of the bake? That would help evacuate the steam that you have injected into the oven as well as the steam driven off from the bread during the bake. That should promote crust crispiness When the color is good -- and I mean good -- try leaving it in the oven for up to five minutes with the door cracked. That will assist in the final stages of baking without burning the crust. That might help your gummy situation, Sobaicecream. Wet doughs can require a long finish with the vent open and the door cracked. Proper cooling is critical after removing the bread from the oven, if you are baking in a rack oven, you are probably baking on pans. Even if they are perforated, try removing them to cooling racks, so that the moisture can continue to escape. Leave them well ventilated with plenty of room all around them. Another issue to examine about cuts not opening is that your breads might possibly be overproofed. It's difficult to say without seeing it or knowing more, but that is common of overproofed breads. Are they collapsing or even slightly deflating when you score them? If they are, try baking them sooner. If you are not getting good crust color, that could be another indication that your loaves are overproofed.
Boulak, I ate some Price Chopper supermarkets Portuguese rolls and batard today and would like to try to duplicate the effort. The baked goods were very light in color with good crust and holey inside. Would you happen to know what they use to keep the product so light in color after being baked and would there be a recipe to be found for these items?