The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Burnt loaves: Good or bad?

mariacuellar's picture

Burnt loaves: Good or bad?

Hi baker friends,

I have a question for you. How do you feel about burnt loaves? I read a quote in Dan Lepard's The Handmade Loaf said by Johan Sorbergs, a baker in Stockholm, saying that "Today burnt crusts are viewed as deadly at worst... But without the penetrating effect of the browning and charring, the crumb flavor is thin." Is it true that to get a better crumb flavor the crust has to be nearly burnt? Or does the burnt crust ruin the whole bread?

I asked this question in my blog when I tried out one of Jim Lahey's recipes:

Thanks for your sharing your knowledge!



Mary Fisher's picture
Mary Fisher

are GOOD! Far better than even slightly under-done bread.

LindyD's picture

I'm not sure what you mean by "burnt."  Charred and dull?  If so, that wouldn't taste very good.

On the other hand, a boldly baked crust which is dark and shiny, yet shows the intricacies of the crust (including the blisters if it has been retarded) is not only beautiful, but the caramelization of the crust adds depth and character to the flavor of the bread.

Mary Fisher's picture
Mary Fisher

Even charred and dull are better than underdone bread. If the charring is bad it can always be cut off.

Burnt bread makes your hair curl! well, my hair curls and I always ate it :-)

Mary Fisher's picture
Mary Fisher

Come to think of it, my Dad used to tell me that it put hairs on my chest. It didn't do that ...

In Those Days my mother made bread in the oven next to the open coal fire, in a very old range. It was barely controllable, coal was rationed so other things were burned on the fire, baking anything in that oven was very hit and miss but we were always so hungry (most food rationed too) that we ate anything. Picky children hadn't been invented.

Reuben Morningchilde's picture
Reuben Morningchilde

I can only agree, a darker crust is always better than a pale one. It adds taste and character and distinguishes artisanal bread from industrial fare.

But there's a line between nicely dark and truly charred - glossy and hard is good, chalky dark gray that rubs off to your hands is definitely bad. At least in my book.