The Fresh Loaf

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help solve my loaf-pan mystery

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flour-girl's picture
flour-girl

help solve my loaf-pan mystery

Hi --


I've been baking my sandwich breads in stoneware loaf pans. I have two pans of the same size, one made by Le Creuset and the other branded by Paula Deen. 


The Le Creuset one is twice the price of the other.


Every time I bake, no matter the recipe, the bread in the Le Creuset pan rises almost twice as much as the other.


I just posted pictures of my latest attempts at Flour Girl, along with a pretty yummy Sourdough Whole-Wheat recipe from Clayton.


Can any of you bread detectives tell me why this might be happening?


What pans do you recommend for sandwich loaves?


Thanks ... and Happy Baking!


Flour Girl

xaipete's picture
xaipete

I imagine the le creuset loaf pan is probably getting hotter and retaining its heat better than the Paula Dean pan. That's all I can think of.


--Pamela

flour-girl's picture
flour-girl

But the other thing is that the dough proofs up higher and more quickly in the Le Creuset pan -- before I even get it in the oven. So heat might not be a factor ...


What else could explain the difference?

xaipete's picture
xaipete

I have no idea why the dough would proof higher and faster in one pan vs. another when both pans have similar shapes and are made of similar material. That's beyond me.


--Pamela

mcs's picture
mcs

You were right the first time.


Whether it's before it's in the oven or during baking, the higher quality pan retains heat better so it rises more.  I bet if you checked the dough temp before they go in the oven the Le Creuset one would be hotter.

xaipete's picture
xaipete

If the dough is somewhat warm when proofing, that makes sense. The better quality pan retains more heat and gives better rise. I was assuming the dough was cold when starting to proof--probably because I've been making so many cold fermented doughs lately!


--Pamela

flour-girl's picture
flour-girl

That makes total sense ... Thank you!


So, should I just allow more time in the other pan ... Or invest in another, better pan?


Any loaf pan recommendations out there?

xaipete's picture
xaipete

That brand seems to work well for you.


--Pamela

leucadian's picture
leucadian

If all your ingredients and the pans are at room temperature, and are proofed at that same temperature, then they ought to proof exactly the same. If they don't, it's as much a mystery as cold fusion, and I will admit my bewilderment.


If, however, the dough is cold, or you proof at a higher temperature, then the nature of the pan will have an effect. I suspect that both pans are made of similar materials, so the thicker one is heavier and will take longer to warm up and cool down. That means that the heavier Creuset pan should proof more slowly than the PD pan if it's proofed at a higher temp. But that's not what you see happening. I think the key is the color of the pans: dark colors will absorb radiated heat better than light colors. I will bet that your expensive dark green pan gets hotter faster than your white one, that's all.


If you're curious, try one of these experiments: pre-heat your oven to a convenient temperature, like 400F, and let it stabilize for at least half an hour. Then put 2 cups of water into each pan, and let it sit out on the counter to come to room temperature while the oven is stabilizing. Then measure the temperature of the water before placing in the oven, on the same rack, side by side. Let the pans 'bake' for maybe 15 minutes (before the water boils), then check the temperature of the water again. I expect the dark one will be hotter than the white one. Another way to do this is to repeat the experiment but wrap both in aluminum foil (even over the top) before putting them in the oven, thus making them both lousy heat collectors. The temperature of the water should be very close this time.


End of Physics lesson and lab. Practical application: try wrapping the dark one in foil and leaving the other plain, and see if they bake the same. It should proof slower and bake longer.


Good luck


 

flour-girl's picture
flour-girl

the more-expensive pan is off-white inside and the cheaper pan is dark. But the more-expensive Le Creuset pan is considerably thicker and heavier, so I bet it simply retains heat better.


Often, when proofing, I'll set the oven to very low, turn it off and put the loaves in. I bet the Le Creuset just keeps things warmer than the other one.


Thanks everybody for puzzling over this one. Maybe I should just get a couple of the same pans and I wouldn't have this problem!


Happy baking,


Flour Girl

leucadian's picture
leucadian

I thought the pan in the background on your web site was a very dark green (Creuset) and the one in the foreground was white (Deen), so I got it backwards. Do you feel like risking a loaf in a conventional metal pan, and maybe proofing at room temp? I'm kind of curious, having never baked in pottery. I see that the La Creuset on Amazon is 3 lbs, whereas the Paula Deen one is 2.3 lbs.

flour-girl's picture
flour-girl

I would totally try that. That would be a good experiment!


Thanks for giving it some thought.


Take care,


Heather

ehanner's picture
ehanner

How about warming the Deen pan with tap water before you put dough in it. Just give it a spray of warm water on the outside to raise the temperature of the ceramic. That should do it.


Eric

flour-girl's picture
flour-girl

I like that idea, to warm the pan first. I'm going to try that next time.


 


Thanks!

jbaudo's picture
jbaudo

I have one that I use and I have seen the same thing happen.  The loaf made in the cast iron pan always is larger and better risen than the one made in the cheaper pan.  I got mine off of amazon for around $18.  It works great and as long as I oil it a little bit first nothing ever sticks.  Most people think that with cast iron the bread will burn on the bottom but I have found the opposite to be true.  The bread in the other pan gets much browner on the bottom - sometimes more that I like.


Jennifer

flour-girl's picture
flour-girl

I hadn't looked into that. Thanks for the suggestion, Jennifer.


 


Happy baking!


Flour Girl

Andrew Vickery's picture
Andrew Vickery

I love cast iron.  very stable temp and kids cant hurt it. (they may if they drop it on there foot lol)