The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

A browning mystery

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Frequent Flyer's picture
Frequent Flyer

A browning mystery

My sandwich loaves were terrific, but pale despite an overnight stay in the fridge.

I made a variation of Syd's Poolish Sandwich Loaf, but instead of making a poolish, I made the dough directly, fermented it in bulk half-way or perhaps more.  I then retarded the dough.  The next day, the dough had expanded 3 to 4 times it's original volume.  I preshaped the loaves, let them reach room temperature and baked them at 375F. 

The loaves disappeared before I could get a photograph.  The bulk fermentation obviously went on too long at room temperature, but I don't know why the overnight retardation didn't yield sugars that browned when baked.

Any ideas?

FF

 

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

The dough does not create sugars during retardation, it actually consumes them as the yeast (and LAB if you are making sourdough) continue to metabolize whatever sugars are available even at low temperatures. If you want a little more sugar you will need to add it, either directly, or indirectly through the addition of a small amount of disatatic malt.  Check your flour to see if it is already contains "malted barley flour" which is the way diastatic malt will show up on the ingredients list.  A little boost to oven temperature might also compensate.

Frequent Flyer's picture
Frequent Flyer

I don't want the sugars for taste as the loaves were very tasty, I'm just trying to learn a little. 

The day before, I had made David's San Juaquin Sourdough loaves which produced a great deal of color, although at a much higher temperature.

I did find a few slices and photographed them.  See below.  FF

 

FF

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

Now that I see a picture,  I think that the crust color is appropriate for this bread.  As previously stated, I would bake at a higher temperature or alternately put the loaves in at a high temperature in the range of 500-550 °F  (in a home oven) and then turn the temperature down right after putting the loaves in the oven.

Jeff

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Doc.Dough provided part of the answer with his comments about sugar content, FF, and you have identified the other major factor: temperature.  A moderate oven temperature, say in the 350F range, will cause much less browning in the same time span than a higher oven temperature for the same bread.  The lower temperature does not cause as much heating in the crust and therefore does not drive the Maillard reactions which caramelize the sugars, yielding the darker coloring.  Note that this is time-influenced.  Left long enough at the lower temperature, the bread will brown.  

There are some other players.  For instance, Bread A baked on a stone will usually brown more than Bread A baked in a pan since more of its surface is exposed to the direct heat of the oven instead of being shielded by the pan.  Bread A baked in a dark-colored metal pan will generally be darker than Bread A baked in a light-colored or shiny metal pan.  Going out on a limb, I'll hypothesize that the shinier pan reflects more infrared, causing it to heat up less.

I hope this helps.

Paul

Frequent Flyer's picture
Frequent Flyer

I didn't know that retardation reduces sugar content, but if flavor improves overnight in the fridge, what reactions are causing that? Or, does flavor really improve with retardation?

What are the processes that break down flour into sugars, enzyme activity?  Bacteria? ..and these reactions occur at room temperature?

FF

 

 

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

I would bake at a higher temperature.

Jeff

thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

If the loaf expanded 3 to 4 times in volume during retardation, then the retarder was too warm to put the yeasts to sleep (i.e. warmer than 41 F).

If the yeasts weren't sleeping, they were eating (I must be a yeast, because when I'm not sleeping, I'm eating too. But I digress...). And it sounds like they ate all/most of sugars, hence the light colour.

Check the temperature of your retarder/refrigerator. It'll likely be above 41 F.

tomcatsgirl's picture
tomcatsgirl

(I must be a yeast, because when I'm not sleeping, I'm eating too. But I digress...)

This made me giggle I guess im a "yeast" too.

Frequent Flyer's picture
Frequent Flyer

....I think, but the fridge temp isn't the culpret - it runs at 39F (just checked it).  The 3.6 lbs of dough had been fermenting for too long at room temperature and was in a cylindrical container as it cooled.  It just was too far along and was cooling too slowly.

FF

thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

I'm using Loydb's advice to use leftover sourdough starter to make crackers.

I made a fifth test batch of Wheat Thins cracker dough yesterday, increasing the sugar from 1.5 teaspoons to 3 teaspoons to see if it would achieve the right sweetness I find in the commercial cracker; but, I forgot about dough until some 6 hours later.

Expecting the crackers to be too sweet from doubling the sugar, imagine my surprise when they weren't sweet at all. Not even as sweet as the previous four batches with 1 to 1.5 teaspoons sugar.

The sourdough yeasties had eaten all of the extra sugar and then some.

It's amazing how fast they work.

gary.turner's picture
gary.turner

One objective of a cold retarded bulk ferment is to let the enzymes do their trick  breaking down starch into sugars before the yeast gets going eating those same sugars.  Try this: Once kneaded, shape the dough into a ball, put it into a covered container and move to the fridge immediately for an overnight stay. Even so, you may have a doubled volume the next day anyway.  I normally turn the cold dough out on the counter, pat flat to degas, and do a stretch and fold. Return the dough to the container and allow to rise to double the original volume.  Now prepare for the pans. For a panned sandwich bread, I like a darker crust, so set the oven to 360℉ or maybe a bit more. 

I have some new aluminum on steel loaf pans, half of which are darkening nicely and half of which aren't. Guess which produce the nicer crust. Anyone with suggestions for speeding the process? :)

cheers,

gary

jcking's picture
jcking

Hey Bud,

How much yeast is being used. Normally the longer you wish to ferment, for added flavor et al, the amount of yeast is reduced. As stated above the yeast used up too much sugar. Check the bread spread excel spreadsheet I sent you for an idea of how much to use.

Jim

JoeV's picture
JoeV

if you want a darker crust, brush on an egg wash using the whole egg, not just the whites. Also, keep flour from getting on the top of the loaf, as that acts an insulator. When shaping your dough for the loaf pans, no flour should be used if the dough is of normal hydration of about 55%.  Here are a couple of examples of whole egg egg wash using dark pans. Notice the darkening of the sides of the loaves. FWIW, I bake almost every type of bread at 400F for 30 minutes. A probe shows an internal temp of 195-205F internal temp.

Here is a loaf of Challah baked on a stone...

Finally, here are the sanwich thins I make with rolled oats for a topping on a whole egg egg wash. Not sure if you can see the difference in color near the oats, but it is defiinitly ligher than the edges. These are baked at 400F for 12-13 minutes. The dough ball, before rolling, is 2.3 oz, then is rolled into a circle of  about 5" diameter which is then perforated with my docking tool so they don't puff up real high. Hope this helps.

Frequent Flyer's picture
Frequent Flyer

Joe V, great looking breads - as usual.  Yeah, I use washes sometimes, and I am okay with the crust color, just surprised by it and was looking for an explanation.  I think I've got it and learned a great deal in the process.  The yeasts ate what sugars had been in the bread.

Jim, the yeast level was 1.6% and could have been lowered some.  I'll look at the spreadsheets.

Thanks everyone.

FF