The Fresh Loaf

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Under Cooked bottom and quick 2nd prove

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dickeytt's picture
dickeytt

Under Cooked bottom and quick 2nd prove

Hi All, I have only been baking bread for a few months and have now made 4 sourdough loafs using Dan Lepard's starter and method.

I have 2 problems that I am not sure how to solve

1) I am cooking my loaves in a UK Fan oven on a metal tray with a pan of hot water in the bottom of the oven, but each time the top of the bread is cook, the bottom looks pale and under cooked.  Today I turn the loaf over to finish cooking the bottom.  The oven temp was at 200 C (about 400 F).  Can you suggest how I can correct this?  Do I need a baking stone?

2) The basic sourdough recipe from Dan's book, it suggests that the bread should prove for up to 4.5 hours or until it doubles, my bread only takes 2-2.5 hours before it doubles, the bread does taste lovely, but is this ok, would it be better if it proves slower?   If so, how do I get a slower prove? 

Heath's picture
Heath

From the colour of your loaf, I think it could be baked for a little longer or at a higher temperature.  Bread can be safely baked to a very dark brown coloured crust without harming it.  Maybe try for 5 minutes longer at a time until you're happy with it?  Another thing you could try would be raising the temperature of the oven for the first 10 minutes or so.  Bread is often baked at a higher heat than 200 C - at least for the first few minutes.  I bake mine at 230 C (the highest my oven will go) for a while before turning it down, to stop the crust from burning.

Your oven may not even be reaching 200 C.

Many bread bakers recommend using a baking stone for the best results but I haven't got one and my bread bakes fine on the bottom, so you shouldn't need to buy one for that reason.  I too use a UK fan oven - without any problems.

It's always said that you should watch the dough and not the clock when allowing bread to rise, so you're doing the right thing in not letting it more than double when proofing.  There's no problem with this, although longer rising does improve the flavour.  I assume you're putting the dough in a warm place to let it proof.  If so, try not doing so and letting it proof somewhere cooler, which will slow down the rise.  You can also add less starter (although you might need to adjust the quantities of flour and water in the recipe to allow for this).

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

in the oven to preheat upside-down or if it is bright and shiny,  use a dark tray upside-down.  Use parchment and slide the loaf onto the hot tray using wood or sturdy piece of cardboard.

and/or

Try placing a dark tray upside down on the bottom of the oven (baking on a tray above it) if the inside interior floor is not dark. Dark pans and trays will focus heat on the bottom crust of the loaf.  Metal trays do not need to be heated to extreme temps or they tend to burn the crust.  Normal temps or just a little warmer is fine.

I often de-pan loaves and put them upside down in the oven to brown the bottoms but if heat gets to the bottom early on, oven spring improves.  

Recipes are guides,  I rarely get the same rise times as a recipe, my room, oven, dough temps and flours vary.  I mark my books in pencil and later in red ink when I get different results (also the date and location, I travel and location, season can make a big difference.)  

 

Heath's picture
Heath

Mini Oven is a far more experienced baker than myself, so take her word over mine :)

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Heath, your comments are just as important as mine. (maybe even more so)  I don't see conflicting ideas or suggestions here.  I don't see why I should have more weight in my comment.   We are addressing different questions, thoughts and solutions and you complement much better than I do.  

Heath's picture
Heath

Thanks Mini :)

I'm not an experienced baker and am anxious that I may give incorrect advice.  In fact, I only answered this post because I noticed that it had been up for 2 days without a reply.  I'm always very aware on TFL that I'm surrounded by some wonderful and very experienced bakers (and I count you as one of them) and don't want to lead anyone astray.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

is the best way to get a discussion going.  (I've done that on occasion so be careful of all my comments!)  Lol!

Heath's picture
Heath

Lol, thanks, that makes me feel less worried about putting my foot in it :D

dickeytt's picture
dickeytt

Hi Mini Oven and Heath, 1st, thanks for the replies, very helpful,

To confirm you are saying that a black metal tray is better than a bright shiny metal tray?  

Also, you are saying that there is no problem with turning the loaf upside down for the last 10 mins to get a good bake on the bottom?

I have heard that using a cast iron pot to cook the loaf in works as well as a backing stone, have you tired this method?

If I get a backing stone, how long will it take to heat up, my oven heats up quickly in about 5 mins?

Thanks again for the help, I must say that I love making bread, my new passion.

 

Richard

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Black over shiny: not better just different depending on the circumstances.  Try it.  Red is also perceived as black as far as ovens are concerned.  Shiny pans tend to reflect heat away great for delicate and sweet doughs to keep from browning too much.

No problem flipping loaves in the oven or laying them on their sides or tenting the loaves with foil to prevent over browning of the top.  (Check oven directions if foil is allowed.)  As long as it works... 

Cast iron works.  If I had one (to lug around and the airlines allowed a bigger weight allowance) with a cover, I'd be using it.   Run a site search.   Baking stones take time to heat through and vary with the thickness and oven type.  The stone should have space around the front, sides and back of the oven so the hot air can circulate in the oven.  Search: Baking with a stone

I love baking bread too but don't need a lot of fancy toys to make a decent loaf.  It is fun to play and get passionate!  

Mini

BarbaraK's picture
BarbaraK

Hello dickeytt - I'm not a very experienced baker as so many others are but  I do have similar conditions to you - i.e.

in the UK, fan oven which only goes to 230 degrees C.and very expensive gas! I have a cast iron oblong casserole which I use for rustic style wheat/rye breads which works perfectly. I also have a stone which I have to use for longer bread such as baguettes. I find the stone takes ages to heat up - I'm not really sure if it will ever reach peak heat at 230 degrees - and I'm not too happy with the bottoms of the larger batard style with French or Italian flour although the bread tastes good and the top crust is fine.

Might I suggest you try using a tin - as someone has suggested - before investing in a stone and  I would to hear  if it works for you.  Your bread looks lovely!

rottenfood's picture
rottenfood

I really like Mini's thoughts here - "I love baking bread too but don't need a lot of fancy toys to make a decent loaf. It is fun to play and get passionate!"

Like other hobbies, I've said we spend a tremendous amount of time, money and effort - to learn that we don't need to spend alot of time, money, or effort.

BarbaraK's picture
BarbaraK

Oops!   Sorry I meant "try using a metal tray"  not a tin.

Bakingmadtoo's picture
Bakingmadtoo

I just wondered if you have checked your oven temperature with an oven thermometer? Five minutes to heat to temperature seems very fast. I bake without any special equipment (I have steaming issues at the minute, but no problems at all with browning evenly). I heat the oven as high as it will go around 230-250 degrees. I do bake as soon as it comes up to temperature, but have used a thermometer to check my oven is accurate. I do not even bake on a sheet of any kind. I take the whole rack out of the oven. Cover the whole rack with parchment as this is the only way I can fit two loaves on one shelf. I bake at the hottest temperature for ten minutes, then turn it down to 200 degrees for the rest of the bake. I usually remove the parchment after about quarter of an hour. This seems to give a lovely, even browning to the loaf.

dickeytt's picture
dickeytt

Hi, I have not checked my oven temperature, it is a new oven and was thinking of buying an oven thermometer, but I am trying to work out what to purchase next.

I like the idea of just covering the rack with parchment, I will give this a go next, also will raise the temperature to 230 and lower after 10 mins.

I am going to be baking a new loaf on Monday so will post the results.

 

Thanks for all the good suggestions

dickeytt's picture
dickeytt

Today I invested in an Oven Thermometer and tested it out in my Oven, I have found that the oven is not getting hot enough, it is about 15C lower than it is says it is at.

I am going to bake tomorrow and try getting the oven up to 230C for the 1st 10 mins and then lower to 200C for the rest of the bake.

I am also going to try baking on the rack with a parchment covering it, I will let you know how I get on.

Thanks

Bakingmadtoo's picture
Bakingmadtoo

It was worth buying the thermometer then at least. It is surprising how many ovens are off. Hope your bake goes well, would love to hear your results. 

I wasn't however, particularly intending to recommend baking directly on the oven rack as I think that a stone may be better for baking on as that is what all the experts on here, who know far more than me, seem to do. I only do it when I need to fit two loaves on one shelf, but I am able to still get oven spring and good colour that way (still struggling with the elusive ears!), which is what made me wonder whether your problem was just more of a temperature one.

Elagins's picture
Elagins

Properly preheated, the stone will cook the bottom beautifully. Ask any experienced baker here about that.

Stan Ginsberg
www.nybakers.com

dickeytt's picture
dickeytt

Hi All, forgot to post about my next loaf, it was a brown loaf and it turned out lovely.  I let it prove in the garage (nice a cool) and cooked at the higher temp, the outside was a bit burnt, but probably the best loaf I have made.

Thanks for all the suggestions, was a real help.

 

Richard

 

 

Bakingmadtoo's picture
Bakingmadtoo

Glad it worked out well. I was wondering how you got on. Doesn't it feel good when you produce a decent loaf? I can still never quite believe it when I am (almost) happy with a loaf!

Heath's picture
Heath

Congratulations!

dickeytt's picture
dickeytt

So I made my 2nd loaf, but forgot all the lessons that I was told in this post.  I did not turn the temp up higher enough, I left out the steam (pan of water at the bottom) and did not leave the loaf in long enough.

But saying all this, the loaf (a bit under cooked) tastes lovely and really yummy.

I have started to write some notes each time I bake a new loaf so I can remind myself what when right and wrong.

I am off to family for a xmas visit and now preparing 2 loafs for them, I am going to remember all the right things so that I can give them a nice couple of loaves.