The Fresh Loaf

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how do I get a golden crust on a basic bread with a Zo?

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sheilat's picture

how do I get a golden crust on a basic bread with a Zo?

I had a breadman for years and using a good basic white bread recipe I consistently got a good crusty golden loaf that crunched when you bit into a slice. Now I have a Zo, and although the bread tastes good and  rises well the crust is soft and very pale and when I shake it out of the pan onto a rack the indentations of the rack remain in the crust - it's that soft!  Here is what I have done: I have turned off the pre-heat feature, I have tried the dark crust setting and tried different recipes - even the basic King arthur machine recipe was pale - , but no golden crust. I had to adapt my standard recipe for the size of the pan as the med size was too small and the large too big. For 20 oz of flour and no dried milk - using water, what would be the ideal amounts of the other ingredients to get this otherwise great machine to crisp up the loaf? Or do I use the programmable settings to adjust the bakingtime? But why should I have to do this? Shouldn't a basic setting bake the bread to a golden crust? 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Ideas that pop into my head although I don't have a "Zo":

  • Contact the manufacturer's consumer help by telephone or web site

  • see if the machine has a voltage switch 120 vs 220 that is set wrong (caution: do not put on 120 if you have 220-240 voltage) (Maybe this has happened already?)

  • maybe there is an easy way to give it a longer bake time other than taking it out and popping it into a hot oven to finish the bake.

  • Welcome to TFL, I just hope we can find a working solution.... :)


sheilat's picture

Thanks for your greetings! In answer to your suggestions:

I dd contact the manufacturer. They said they don't have anyone to help me with actual baking questions (LOL!) The troubleshooting page in the manual simply says to add 1/2t sugar more.

There is no voltage switch.

Yes I can program itto bake longer, but why should I have to do that with a basic bread?

Here's the thing: everything else I make in this machine is wonderful: dough, jam, basic "tea breads", and there is nothing wrong with the rise, the texture or the flavor - its just insipid in color and soft on top.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Maybe the basic program is for a lighter bread so that it can be toasted later, or baked longer if a darker crust is desired.  Strange enough not everyone loves a darker crust.  Too many people desire that wonder bread look which is pale.  The majority set the standard.  But keep trying.  Maybe you can put your program wishes on a label and stick it onto the machine so it is easier to remember the steps when programming.  I'm hoping someone with a "Zo" will add their comments.   Some of the machines have a crust darkness button.


jacobsbrook's picture

Try contacting King Arthur Flour.  They are very helpful.  They recommend the Zo and that is where I bought mine.  I usually use mine just for kneading doughs when I don't want to do it by hand.  But with that said, mine has made a dark crust in the past when family has baked with it.   Could it be defective?  You should get a darker crust when using your crust control button.  You mentioned that the button didn't change anything.  Makes me think the Zo may not be quite right.    Happy Baking.

Luvs2bake's picture

Sheilat, I also had Breadman machines (2 of them) before getting the Zo and while I think the Zo makes better dough, the Breadman baked better looking bread.  My Zo refuses to brown the tops of loaves no matter what crust setting I use.  I fought with Zo customer service people and after 4 months (even sent photos of anemic and/or sunken loaves) they replaced the machine, but the "new" one is no better.  I did call King Arthur and they were very helpful even though I didn't purchase my Zo from them.  The loaf recipe they gave me didn't sink but was not golden or nicely shaped.  The Zo used to be made in Korea but the machines being sold now are made in China and I think that's where the problem lies.  It's unfortunate that the Zo company is continuing to benefit from good reviews (for previous models) when the current model is inferior to the ones produced just a few years ago.  All I can suggest is that you (a) use your Zo just for making dough and/or (b) experiment with different recipes and keep good notes so that when/if you succeed in making the kind of loaf you're looking for you'll know what you did to accomplish that.  For what these machines cost, they ought to produce much better loaves than they do.  Good luck to you.


sheilat's picture

Thanks for all the advice. This is what I ended up doing:

1. I changed the yeast from Bread Machine to Active Dry.

2. I covered the window with foil to reflect back the heat.

3. I put the crust setting on dark for white and med for whole wheat.

The results, tho still not as golden as my Breadman were much better and had a nice crisp to the crust.  Delightful breads and good toast and I am back with my old tried and true recipe which does not have milk in it and which I can play with by substituting a couple of ounces of whatever in the basic 18oz of flour.

The Breakfast Bread recipe on King Arthur's website is excellent for toast, btw  .

I might try the homemade setting to increase the baking time but I don't want to dry the bread out too much. Any suggestions as to how many minutes extra?

Courageous244's picture

If your satisfied with the taste and textures of your bread try brushing the bread with a 4-1 egg wash recipe; like 1 egg and a splash of milk. Wisk. Brush before you put it in the oven.

Guaranteed a gold brown,..probably browner then you like the first time. Once you get your timing down, perfect color.