The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Am I OK Here?

jcamador's picture

Am I OK Here?

Here is one of my first sourdough boules (2nd), but it doesnt seem as dark as some of the other pictures I've seen here. It's a 2 lb boule baked for 28 minutes at 450 degrees. Baked with steam first 15 minutes with baking lid and finishing internal temp is 205 degrees. 28 minutes doesn't seem like a lot of time especially when certain recipes are calling for 45 minutes or so. I'm getting LOTS of blisters...which maybe is not a good thing? If you can't already tell...I'm new to baking and trying to find an accurate barometer of a good loaf.. Thanks!


LindyD's picture

Twenty-eight minutes for a two-pound loaf is pretty quick. 

The blisters are an indication the dough was retarded.  Nothing wrong with blisters, although the French might disagree. 

What does the crumb look like?  Are you following someone's recipe?

It's a pretty boule.

jcamador's picture

Thanks! Internal temp was 205 degrees when I removed it from the oven. It's the Norwich Sourdough recipe from The Wild Yeast Blog...

I forgot to take a picture of the crumb, but it was open with irregular hole structure.


EDIT: it's hard and crunchy when it comes out of the oven, but softens a little when cooled. Very soft and creamy on the inside with a crackle crust.

davidg618's picture

I assume you baked in a Dutch oven or equivalent? If yes, did you preheat it? Greater than 450*F?. Lastly, are you certain your temperature probe was at the center--the coolest region--internally? 

If most of the answers are "Yes"", especially using a DO, and your internal temperature reading was accurate, I think you simply left the lid on too long. Assuming you removed the lid at the 15 min. mark, the remaining 13 minutes wasn't enough to brown the exposed surface nicely.

I would love to see a crumb shot; its description sounds spot on. Externally, the loaf looks very good to me The blisters are to be expected, I suspect their caused by condensing moisture droplets that seep into the dough's skin, and form tiny bubbles of steam when heated. The crust softens because of internal moisture absorbed into the crust while cooling. If you like a crunchy crust, you can pop it back into a 375°F oven for four or five minutes just before you cut into it to eat.

David G

LindyD's picture

Do you have a convection oven by chance?  Do you preheat to 475F?

Hamelman's Vermont sourdough (Susan[Wild Yeast] based her Norwich SD on the Hamelman formula) is my "daily" bread.  Following his instructions,  I bake two 1.5 pound loaves in my gas oven for 40 to 45 minutes at 460F, using normal steam. The internal temp, when I've checked it, is around 209 and the crust is nicely caramelized.  I probably could remove the bread sooner, but I favor a bold crust.

Here are Susan's instructions:

Once the loaves are in the oven, turn the heat down to 450F. For 400g loaves, bake for 12 minutes with steam, and another 15 – 18 minutes without steam. I leave the oven door cracked open a bit for the last 5 minutes of this time. The crust should be a deep brown. Then turn off the oven and leave the loaves in for 5 minutes longer, with the door ajar, to help them dry. Larger loaves will need to be baked longer.

You could try removing the lid after 12 minutes, or baking for another five minutes or so, to see if that will make a difference.  An internal temp of 210F is fine, although the max you want to go.   It could be that covering the bread is having some effect, although I've personally not experienced that when I do use a cover.

Your description of the crumb sounds great, so yes, you're doing very well.  As to a bolder crust, well, the fun is in the experimentation and the eating!

jcamador's picture

Thank you guys for the replies!

The oven was preheated with a stone at 500 degrees for about 45 minutes, then right before I put it in I dropped it to 450.

It was baked on a stone with a roasting lid as I saw detailed here: , and yes, the temp was taken dead center, it was probably a little closer to 208 degrees.

I think I combined a couple set of instructions and settled on 15 minutes under the lid. So I think you guys are right to remove the lid after 12 minutes or so...I'll give this a shot in the next few days.

I've always like the way blisters look too...makes me think of crackly crust! I'll take a picture of the crumb over the weekend to get some feedback. Thanks for the feedback and great advice you guys!

EDIT: This was not a convection's an old commercial gas oven.

EDIT EDIT: Oh yeah...I also spritzed the dough with water as soon as it touched the stone, then sprayed the stone around the loaf and then covered.

LindyD's picture

it's an old commercial gas oven.

Do you use an oven thermometer to confirm the temp you've dialed is the temp your getting?

Also, be cautious about spraying a hot stone with water - can cause it to crack.

Happy baking!

jcamador's picture

Good question I didn't use an oven thermometer and I know this oven hasn't been calibrated in years. I'll check it this weekend. Could this be why your baking a 1.5 lb boule for 45 minutes and my 2 lb is only 28 minutes? I have been ignoring the clock and just been going off of internal temperature. Baking does make me happy!

BerniePiel's picture

You might also keep in mind that frequent opening and closing of the oven door to check temp will cause a loss of oven temp.  I fully agree with Lindy and David that you should check the calibration of the oven, particularly if it is "old".  Also I have heard, but I don't know this for a fact that opening the oven door will result in a 50% loss of oven heat.  That said, I've never heard just how long one needs to have the door open for this to occur.  I would think not too terribly long.  Also, if you are able to monitor the loaf in the oven through a viewing window, I would first get the oven calibrated as Lindy says, and then confident of the oven's temp just watch and patiently wait till you see the crust turn the marbelized color that you prefer.  I sometimes use a strong flashlight because the oven bulb doesn't provide enough illumination for my old eyes.  After burning a loaf or two I now follow Mini's adage about lowering the temp and keeping a longer cook time, but again monitoring the color of the crust.  In time you'll be pulling them out to your satisfaction without thinking twice about it.  Personally, I think the loaf looks wonderful and bet it tastes even better.  Congratulations.

Bernie Piel