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: