The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Lack of browning in crust --- why?

Urchina's picture
Urchina

Lack of browning in crust --- why?

Today I made Eric's Fav. Rye (from TFL) and all appeared to go well --- until I pulled the loaves out of the oven and sighed at the pasty-looking, not-at-all-brown crust. It was steamed for the first 10 minutes at 370, then 30 additional minutes at 370 (per the recipe). 


 


A couple of weeks ago I had the same result with an experimental sourdough I made (Eric's is also sourdough-based with a yeast kicker). 


 


I very rarely have this happen with a sandwich loaf, but maybe once or twice in several years. 


 


What causes this? I mean, the loaf appears barely baked, with no browning to speak of. I had an inconsistent browning experience with some Uighur Nan I made today as well -- half came out of the oven with lovely browning, the other half baked just as long with virtually no browning (not in the oven at the same time -- sequential baking of flatbreads). 


 


Can someone share tips for a consistently brown and appealing crust? 

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Browning or Caramilization of the crust, is a result of the following:


1- Long SLOW fermentation, as in Fridge retardation


2 - Efective Steaming during first 15 min. of baking


Assuming you already had done no.1, and if you really had trapped enough steam in the oven (my gas oven does a lousy job trapping steam, it just vents 80% out) then it may be your heating elements are not evenly circulating heat. (You may want to consider covered baking, as in under a stainless steel bowl/ clay pot/ la clouche..etc), where you consistently get evenly browned crust.

Urchina's picture
Urchina

Would misting the loaves with water immediately prior to putting in the oven help with the steaming? I'm using a preheated pan and pouring in about a cup of boiling water -- electric oven, don't notice significant venting. At least with the misting I know I'd get some moisture on the crust....

Barbara Krauss's picture
Barbara Krauss

Hi,


This is a lesson I learned the hard way.  After making Hamelman's Semolina Sourdough with sesame seeds many times, I began misting the loaves before putting the seeds on top rather than rolling the shaped dough in the seeds.  The loaves were coming out a dull grey color, not at all appetizing.  It was very frustrating because I was doing everything else I normally do -- that is using a bowl cover for the first few minutes to create steam, then removing the bowl for the rest of the bake.  After about the third or fourth time with this happening, I noticed that everywhere the mist *was not* applied, such as the bottom and around the edges, the crust was the shiny dark brown I was used to. For the next bake I went back to rolling the shaped dough into the seeds, as the recipe suggested. End of problem.

Mebake's picture
Mebake

If you have enough moisture with your steaming method, then you don't need to spray the top of your loaf with water. Keep the loaf baking, and during the last 15 minutes, try the broiler setting, i.e. top element heating only and lower loaf shelf to the bottom. You will get even browning this way.


If you don't want the hassle doing that, you can always successfully bake under cover, be it inverted roaster pan, ot anything similar, to trap steam generated from the loaf itself (no extra steaming will be needed here). You must remove the cover at the last 15 minutes to get the browning you need.


Mebake

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

The top coils kicking on and off at the wrong time.  It could be that the oven is cooler than the set temp or that the oven is slow to come up to temperature.   Is it hotter after just heating the oven or on the second bake?  Do you have an oven thermometer you can place into the oven to check temps?  Run the oven hotter than the dial and see what happens.  I suspect the problem lies more with the oven than the dough.


Mini