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Harvest Grain Bread

Unlike Laura I have not yet broken out to the King Arthurs site, but continue
with the ICCs formulas. Yesterday I attempted making the Harvest Grain
Bread with less than 100% successful results. This is bread that we did not
make in class.
Let me start by mentioning a problem that us cooks in Brazil suffer. One has
little idea of the oven temperature. Yes, the oven does have a gauge but no,
we cant trust it. My oven is gas, and it is regulated by the local utility. This
regulation implies more or less pressure which can depend upon the number
of people using gas; whether there are works in the area; how much gas is
available etc. The result is that one always has to cook at a gauge
temperature higher than the oven actually isbut the precise difference is
never the same and never consistent. With cakes, it is a little frustrating as
the cooking times of, say 40 minutes is often over an hour, even after
estimating the numbers on the gauge. But at least with a cake the tooth
pick test is pretty reliable. With bread, one doesnt know.
So, the Harvest Grain Bread requires both poolish and a soak of the five
(flax, sunflower, pumpkin, sesame and poppy, and all available in Brazil)
types of seeds, for 12 hours each, but nothing terribly complicated about
that. Then, in addition to the poolish and soak, there are eight other
ingredients, of which cornmeal; rolled oats and brown sugar are the most
exotic. I peered into my poolish (made overnight) and it looked fine after 10
hours. I left it for the full twelve, and saw that it had receded somewhat in
the remaining two hours.
Having made the Whole Wheat and Rye loaves recently, I did not fully
understand the need to cook with steam. This loaf is 30% whole wheat. But I
do as Im told! So, after the bulk fermentation phase and the shaping into
pan loaves, I put the loaves into an oven that had an oblong bowl of very
hot water on the shelf below. I cooked the loaf at 450F (or my estimate
thereof), for a full 40 minutes.

The result was three loaves that looked and even tasted good, but which
can at best be described as chewy (a usual description for bread with a
significant whole wheat content), and at worst, undercooked. I did tap the
loaves on top, before taking them out of the oven, and they seemed firm
verging on hard.
So, my question is the following: What is the effect on the loaf of my bowl of
water under it? I have reason enough to assume that the undercooked state
of my loaves was because of the temperature difficulties here in Brazil, but
could it be that the water, turning to steam in the oven, also contributed to
this process?