The Fresh Loaf

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Adjusting bake time and temp for smaller loaves

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Felila's picture
Felila

Adjusting bake time and temp for smaller loaves

I recently bought Hamelman's bread book (2nd edition, which is printed in small, thin san-serif font on shiny white pages, and which I find barely readable). 

I just finished baking the hazelnut and fig levain. Recipe said to make two large loaves, bake at 460 for 15 minutes, then 420 for 36 to 38 minutes. I made four smaller loaves, baked them for the 15 minutes at 460, then guessed that 20 minutes would be enough at 420. I kept checking on them, and glad I did. After 15 minutes at 420, they were so brown, verging on burnt, that I pulled them from the oven. They are still cooling, so I can't check the crumb. I *hope* that they're cooked inside. 

I do need to get an oven thermometer, but if the oven controls are off, it's that the oven may be a little cooler than the temp it shows. 

Hamelman's book doesn't give any directions for adjusting baking time for smaller loaves. I need the smaller loaves because my bread consumption has dropped so much (diet) that I cannot finish a large loaf before it starts to mold in the Honolulu humidity. 

Is there any guide, anywhere, to adjusting bake time and temp for smaller loaves, or do I just need to experiment until I get it right?

I'm thinking I need to give these loaves my usual sourdough treatment: oven at 500 degrees to start, IMMEDIATELY turn it down to 425, bake for 23 minutes. But then they're chock full of nuts and chopped figs, which might throw things off. 

 

GregS's picture
GregS

Aloha from Big Island,

Invest in an inexpensive probe-type instant read thermometer (about $12). When you think the crust is looking good, poke the probe into the center of the loaf. A temperature of about 190 to 202 F. indicates the middle of the loaf is cooked.

With experience, you will judge by eye, but the thermo gives you confidence.

GregS

Felila's picture
Felila

Probe thermometer ... good idea. Will do.

Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

If you don't have a nearby kitchen store with good pricing, try the barbecue grill dept of a Home Depot type store. Their instant read thermometers work just as well in a loaf of bread as they will when checking the roast on your grill.

Felila's picture
Felila

Have now had the fresh fig-hazelnut bread with cream cheese. The crumb seems OK, if dense, but the center of the mini-loaf seems just a wee bit too soft. This is the first time I've baked this bread, so I'm not sure if this is the way it is supposed to be. 

Minor problems aside, this is GOOD bread. The fig-hazelnut-anise seed combination, with the sourdough (no regular yeast), is delicious. 

DavidEF's picture
DavidEF

Remember that sugars, as well as some other ingredients, can cause your bread to brown easily and quickly. If the outside is as brown as you'd like it (or browner), but the inside seems underdone, you can adjust the temperature down a bit to give the center more time to bake before the outside is toast.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

and never bake by time except for the steaming period.  A prob thermometer is the way to go,  You can also use an instant read thermometer but they aren't as easy as waiting for the beep. 

mcs's picture
mcs

Felila,

Here's a post I did a few years back about baking times and temperatures.  In it, I talk about adjusting for different size loaves too, based on the color of the desired bake.

-Mark

Felila's picture
Felila

Hulloa Mark, your link just takes me back to this thread. I think you need to edit or repost.

 

mcs's picture
mcs

...try, try again. Try the link again Felila; I fixed it riiiiight before you told me I needed to edit or repost  :)

-Mark

Felila's picture
Felila

Hmmm. That is a general guide to temps and times for various types of breads, but it doesn't address what to do if you are shaping the same dough not as large loaves, but as mini-loaves or rolls. 

mcs's picture
mcs

Whether or not you find it helpful, is up to you, but the entire thread and OP is about the difference between baking 12 ounce (small) and 24 ounce (large) loaves.  There are many issues that come into play, one as mentioned by others, is internal temperature.  Other factors for example are color, crumb structure and moisture content of the desired product.  Some of those factors are addressed later in the same post here.

-Mark

FlourChild's picture
FlourChild

I bake small loaves frequently, and find that, all things held equal except for the size, it generally works best to increase the oven temp and decrease the time for smaller loaves.  Agree it can be helpful the first few times baking smaller to have an instant read or probe thermometer, and GregS's temps are spot on. 

All that said, your fig loaf is likely to have extra sugar from the fruit, which will lead to faster browning than a comparable loaf without the fruit.  I suspect that if you had taken the internal temp when you pulled it out of the oven, it would have been well above 200F.  The shape of your little loaves also affects the outcome, with longer, thinner shapes baking more quickly than spheres.