The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

My Bread isn't Browning

themightytwix's picture

My Bread isn't Browning

Hi Everyone,

I have been a long time reader of this forum, but this is my first post, and I am in need of some advice. I have been baking for the past 2 years with good success, when it was time for me to pick up and move across province to go to university. My old stove was one of the smaller ovens, which was perfect for creating good steam, and my loaves were great, though I could not bake a long baguette!!!


So I was delighted when I arrived at my new apartment which had a brand new stove. It has a digital temperature gauge (this has to be good I thought), it is a larger capacity as well (also good I thought), but no... nothing. My loaves bake, but they don't brown!!!! I get no crust!

Today I made my weekly Hamelmans Toast Bread (though I use an au levain), it was looking perfect, but it did not brown!!!! I left it in there for 20 more minutes and still nothing. No Browning, no crust.. I am devastated. This is the 3rd loaf that has been like this.

Has anyone had any experience with this??? I believe that the problem might be temperature, but I don't have a thermometer at the moment and cannot test it, and I thought maybe someone here could think of something.

Thanks in advance for any help or thoughts


The Mighty Twix


Happy Canada Day!

flournwater's picture

My initial gut reaction was that your oven isn't as hot as you thought it was.  But that's only one aspect of browning so I can't sit on that with total security.

Browning is, of course, based upon the Maillard affect where chemicals in sugar and proteins react with heat.  But the crust has to get quite warm, I believe I've read something like 300 degrees but I can't recall exactly, to brown well.  I also wonder if you're leaving your pan of water (assuming that's what you're relying on) in the oven too long.  Steam retards browning because the crust has to dry before it can brown and steam generates too much moisture to allow that to happen.

You might try brushing the loaf with a little sugar water (weak syrup solution) and see if that helps until you can get the thermometer to check your oven temps.


PaddyL's picture

If your top element isn't working properly, that could result in pale loaves.  It's happened to me more than once.

And a very Happy Canada Day to you too, from Montreal!

Dragonbones's picture

Look at each element to see if it gets glowing red hot. If not, the element may be out. Wait till it cools completely and try wiggling it into place (in case it's been knocked out of its socket) and try again. If that still fails, the oven needs a repair. If renting, ask the landlord. And you should probably get an oven thermometer anyway; they're really cheap.

themightytwix's picture

When putting the oven on bake does the top element turn on?? I was never sure about that. I will try to put the oven on broil to see if that works.


Thank you

LindyD's picture

You didn't say.

themightytwix's picture

It is an electric stove!!!

deblacksmith's picture

Hi,  Hope you get this worked out -- and hope you have a good landlord.  In most electrical ovens when in the preheat mode both the top and bottom element come on.  But when you reach temperature then only the bottom element is used.

Get a oven thermometer -- they should only be about $ 5 CN (but I remember when I was a student and $ 5 was a lot of money) and check the oven.  Or, raise the temperature -- lets get wild here by 50 F or 25 C and try it and see what you get.

Good luck and have a good year.  What school?  My son teaches at University of Waterloo.  We want to get back north to see them and the grandkids soon.  (We live in North Carolina, USA)  Hope you had a nice day today.


Dragonbones's picture

Try setting it for 800F and preheating an hour before putting the bread in, then report back to us, LOL. 

Or try baking the first 25 mins on bake, then the next 15 on broil.

Good luck!

JGull8502's picture

I've also been having this problem. I've baked a few loaves now and they cook on the inside but never really get brown and crusty on the outside. It's dissapointing... but still tasty.

I'm wondering if my oven temperature is off (I'll have to get a thermometer and see). In my oven (electric) only the bottom element is used when heating (unless it's set on broil). Perhaps I should try alternating between broil and oven.

breadbowler's picture

This is the second time I have visited your site. I have'nt spent much time on the comp. in the past, but I have a feeling that is about to change. This site is really cool. Did'nt know there was such a thing out there.

I have been making foccacia for a number of years, and have had alot of success. I made LESSON ONE bread yesterday and really liked the saltiness, and taste. I was unable to get it to brown on top. Used a Baking Stone for the first time, but did'nt think that could have anything to do with it. My foccacia is always nicely browned, but it has a tablespoon of sugar in it. Maybe that's the problem. Also I put a pan in the bottom of the oven and poured hot water in it to make steam as suggested somewhere on the site. Maybe that was it. Anyway, if someone has an idea, I would try it. THANKS

pjkobulnicky's picture

Different ovens exhaust differently. My guess is that your oven is keeping steam in too long (compared to the old one)  and, as was mentioned previously, keeping the crust too cool.  Try cutting down on the water/ice that you put in and put it in a minute or so before the loaves (protect your hands and arms so you don't get a steam burn).