The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Oven Temp

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mowe3415's picture
mowe3415

Oven Temp

I am baking my first loaves of sourdough and following the LaBrea Bakery book. I have a great starter that is over two weeks old and the bread looks fabulous when I put it in the oven. The problem I am having is with the baking times/temp...it is suggested in the book to start at 500 then knock it down to 450 after putting the bread in. After 5 mins, you are supposed to close the oven and leave it for a full 20 mins at 450. After 20 mins, you are supposed to cook it for an additional 25 minutes. However, when I open the door after 20 min. to check it it looks burnt. The crust on my last loaves were so tough I could barely cut through it. What am I doing wrong? I am about to cook my last loaf for the day so if anyone has a suggestion, please let me know!


 


Thanks--Jen

UnConundrum's picture
UnConundrum

Are you saying 50 minutes at 450 or above?  If so, sounds like a typo to me.

asegal0000's picture
asegal0000

Jen,


This may be a stupid question, but is your oven temperature correct?


If the thermostat sensor is moved, it can affect the temperature greatly.


A GOOD oven thermometer is needed. My often was high by 50 degrees


at 450. Check your oven manual, there may be a way to adjust it if it


needs adjustment.

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

Hi Jen,


Years ago (I'm old) I baked a number of the breads in Nancy Silverton's book.  Which, by the way, is a great book.


I also noticed that the bake temps specified didn't allow me to bake the bread as long as recommended, which is important when baking moderately wet dough to get a crisp crust that stays crisp.


The temps Nancy S. listed were what worked for her, using her flour, in Los Angeles (probably), on the days that the recipes were tested, using her equipment.  Change almost any of those factors and the ideal bake temp can change as well.


Especially since ovens vary in heating characteristics, anything from a 10-25 degree departure from her figures wouldn't shock me at all.  The 500 degree start temp is because home ovens lose so much heat while the door is open as you load.  It helps minimize the time needed for the oven to recover to the ideal bake temp, and it helps insure a strong amount of oven spring in the loaf.


So, when you turn the temp down, try 440 degrees, or even a liitle less the time after if the bread still gets browned too quickly.  The goal in baking any loaf is to have the outside get to the right degree of browning/crispness just as the crumb in the center is done.  Too high a temp will cause pre-mature browning and a possibly raw interior when you pull the bread from the oven.  Even if the bread is technically "cooked" inside, a too-short bake time means not enough moisture will evaporate before the crust is brown.  That's what often causes softness afterward in crust that was crisp when you took the loaf from the oven.


Any author can only give recommended temps for your oven.  What you see happening before you is what governs the actual temp you should use.  Nancy S. would tell you that too, I think.


--Dan DiMuzio

mowe3415's picture
mowe3415

Hey Dan!


Thanks for the input. I kinda figured that and dropped the temp on the last loaf by 50 degrees.Came out great! I really am enjoying her book.This is my first attempt at bread making and have to say that her book has made it pretty easy. I did get some pretty big air bubbles..is that a good thing or bad? I would love to bounce some questions off you when you get a chance!--Jen

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

Hi Jen,


The bubbles are considered a baking flaw in France, but here people like them, and they certainly don't hurt the flavor or texture, IMHO.


If you want them to be minimized, you can go with shorter bulk fermentation time and/or a slightly (1 or 2 degree) lower final dough temp.  That should reduce the rate of gas production prior to retarding the loaves, and it can help control the amount of blistering you see.  Whether the blistering is entirely good or bad is really up to you.  I rarely worry about it.


And, while only you can be the one to decide finally what temperature to use with your oven and environment, I do want to suggest that a deeply caramelized crust is very flavorful.  I try to bake long enough to get the crust well-caramelized, but I don't risk burning it.  The color you see in Silverton's color photos (on the book jacket) is sort of extreme compared to some, but it is not burned.


--Dan DiMuzio

mowe3415's picture
mowe3415

I like the bubbles so I am not worried about it. Good to hear that we are cool with it on this side of the pond.


The dark crust was the first thing I noticed when I opened her book up. They look burned..another reason why I thought her higher temp./length was right. THe first loaf I did had a pretty thick crust while the second (at a lower temp.) had a thinner crust. Both were chewy and a dark brown but the second one was better. However, the second one was tougher to cut do to the fact that the inside was pillowy and light while the crust was thicker. I am hoping that this is good!


Do you have a good source for proofing baskets? I want something that will give the bread a cool design but not cost an arm and a leg. I am in a pretty small town in eastern Oregon so supplies are limited. All the wicker baskets I have looked at are made in China and I don't trust the coating on them. Thanks--Jen

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

There's at least a couple of discussion threads about that here at TFL, so you might use the search box on the upper left and just search for "baskets" or "brotform", which is the German term for the coiled baskets with no lining.  There are also linen-lined baskets from France (and maybe other places), called bannetons.


You might find these posts from Susan Tenney at her blog to be of interest:


http://www.wildyeastblog.com/2008/11/04/brotforms/


http://www.wildyeastblog.com/2009/01/08/my-non-bannetons/


--Dan DiMuzio

Broc's picture
Broc

Darker Crusts are often a reflection of the amount of sugar or honey in your dough.


Also, to soften the crust, brush the crusts with butter right after pulling from the oven.


 


Good Luck --


~ Broc


 

mowe3415's picture
mowe3415

Thanks for the blog info Dan. I am inspired to get baking again! I was wondering what you thought of the way nancy grows her starter (ie. the amount she makes). I tried breaking it down but it seems to be a little sluggish now. Any thoughts?


Broc-


There is no sugar or honey in the recipe.I think the lower temp will help.Does the butter trick really work? I have used it just on beer bread but never thought to use it on anything else.


 


Thanks--Jenny