The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Charred crust!

lisawardmather's picture

Charred crust!

Hi all, I've been lurking for some time and have learned much from this community--thanks! Now, I come with a question.

Today, I made Leader's Cherry Pecan Pain au Levain from Bread Alone and it all went beautifully. The loaves rose nicely and had great oven spring. However, almost through the recommended baking time, I noticed the crust beginning to char--but the internal temperature was not nearly high enough. 15 minutes later, the loaves were cooked through, but the crust was charred. I think my oven may be a little on the hot side, but it is not wildly hotter than it should be. I've been baking bread for a couple of years and think I would have noticed if it was way off. Also, my rack was on the second lowest position, so rack position should not be to blame.

I have a theory, which may be totally off base. The water used in the recipe was previously used to soak the cherries--and is quite dark and full of little bits of cherry as a result. Could it be that this cherry water deposits a fair amount of the cherries' sugar throughout the loaf, which causes more than typical browning?

The only thing not explained by my theory is why the loaves took so much longer to bake than the recipe called for. Does anyone have any other suggestions?

By the way, it was still pretty yummy. Here's a picture:

celestica's picture

Especially if they are dried with additional sugar.  Sugar, honey, and malt make a loaf brown faster. In fact, they are recommended additions to people who have pallid loaves they would like to darken.

Experiment with a tent of foil, shiny side up, added after the inital 10 minute burst of yeast activity. 

As to why the loaf took longer...not sure.  Ingredient temperature, different loaf size, the recipe is wrong on timing, the original was baked in a brick oven, not a kitchen oven...

Chausiubao's picture

Its possible the soaked cherries added moisture to the dough, meaning more moisture had to be baked off, meaning the baking time would be longer.

When you're working with any ingredient that's soaked before it's added to the dough its really important to make sure its completely drained and dry before mixing it in for that express reason. 

So if you think the cherries contributed to the extended baking time, thats probably the reason why.