The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

burnt on outside / uncooked on inside

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Craig Stevens's picture
Craig Stevens

burnt on outside / uncooked on inside

Hello all!


I just joined and I have a question. Last night I tried to bake a Pain de Campaigne, and after 20 minutes at 400F it was getting burnt on the outside so I took it out. When I cut through it, however, I discovered to my outrage that its center was still gooey. I'm wondering if this has anything to do with the fact that I retarded the dough during bulk fermentation for 24 hours and didn't give it enough time to warm up. But how can that be, since the dough had enough time to double during the proofing period, which was aproximately 1 hour? If the dough doubled, it must have been warm enough to bake, no? What could the problem be?


 


Best,


 


Craig

pmccool's picture
pmccool

Sorry to hear about the baking problems.  Here are some guesses about causes:


1. The actual temperature inside the oven is a lot hotter than the selected temperature setting.  It's fairly common for oven thermostats to give inaccurate readings.  Get a cheap oven thermometer and put it in your oven.  Try different locations to see if there are hot or cold spots (relative to your selected temperature).  If the real temperature is different than the selected temperature, you can either live with it by choosing temperatures that allow for the oven's behavior, or recalibrate the thermostat by following the instructions in the owners manual (assuming that the manual addresses this issue), or call a repair tech to recalibrate the thermostat for you.  The worst case would be that the thermostat no longer works properly and has to be replaced, which is still a fairly low cost fix.


2. If your oven uses both top and bottom heat sources during baking, one (probably the bottom one) is not working and all of the heat is coming from the top element.


3. The bread is at the top of the oven or at the bottom of the oven while baking where it gets too much direct heat, cooking the outside before the inside is finished.


It could be something else but you'll have to give some additional information about your baking setup and process to allow a better diagnosis.


Paul

Chuck's picture
Chuck

As you've discovered, crust color is a very poor way to judge the doneness of bread. Get an "instant read" thermometer and keep baking until the internal crumb temperature is what you want (a common rule of thumb is 205F for lean doughs). If the crust is getting crazy dark, try laying a piece of tinfoil on top of the loaf in the oven (and figure out why this is happening before baking again:-).


No, retard has little to do with either dark crust or level of doneness. And no, baking cold dough is not a problem and has little to do with either dark crust or level of doneness. In fact, if you can somehow get the timing right so the dough in the fridge is just fully proofed, you can quite reasonably move it directly from the fridge to the oven even though it's cold.


(Small amounts of some ingredients such as malt or sweeteners [sugar, honey, etc], and some kinds of washes, can hugely darken the crust even though nothing else changes. Also, as a general rule if you're making up your own recipes, a reduction in temperature and corresponding increase in time can cancel each other out as far a crumb doneness is concerned, but will give you a lighter crust.)

Craig Stevens's picture
Craig Stevens

Thanks guys, I'm glad to hear it has nothing to do with the retardation process. And, no, I didn't put the loaf lower down in the oven; I put it in the center. Do you think it could have been because the dough was too dense or too moist? By the way, the loaf was smoking from the bottom after 15 minutes or so. It's gotta have something to do with the oven temperature, but it didn't seem very hot to me.


 


Best, and thanks for you insight,


 


Craig

Chuck's picture
Chuck

Sounds like something is dramatically awry  ...and it's not the dough; dough couldn't possibly do this. Out of curiosity, when was the last time someone baked any bread successfully in this oven?


To try to help, there's a gazillion different questions we'd like answered. Rather than expend lots and lots of digital of ink (and likely still miss something important:-), can you please  just post some photos of what your oven looks like now? (the whole thing with the door open, the controls, any steaming apparatus, closeup of the rack you baked on, closeup of any baking stone showing the burnt cornmeal, etc.).

hanseata's picture
hanseata

I would also recommend testing the temperature with a thermometer first.


If I had an issue with too much browning while inside undone, it always had to do with the oven temperature, either too hot alltogether or too much heat from above. With new recipes it's always a bit of trial and error, unless you know your oven really well.


Karin

Craig Stevens's picture
Craig Stevens

I bought an oven thermometer and tested the temperature. It turns out that the oven was 50 degrees hotter than the temperature setting on the dial. So I was baking the loaf at 450 instead of the required 400. It doesn't seem like a dramatic difference, though. I soon find out whether the temperature was really the problem.


If this screws up, I'll take pictures!


 


Best,


 


Craig

Chuck's picture
Chuck

Finding out about and allowing for a 50F difference is great  ...but it still doesn't explain "smoking". (Unless you've got way too much cornmeal in your oven, as the cornmeal might smoke at 450F. Cornmeal should be much less of a problem at 400F. Still, use only as much as you really need to prevent sticking, and not a whole lot more.)


When you baked bread, how long did you preheat the oven before putting the bread in? How does your particular oven tell you it's done preheating and ready for baking: light off? beep? Your earlier description sounds like maybe the oven was still doing its "preheat" thing, with both top and bottom elements max on trying to bring the oven up to the desired temperature as quickly as possible.

Craig Stevens's picture
Craig Stevens

I didn't know that the upper and lower elements come on during preheating. That would explain why some of my breads have had burned looking tops. Thanks.


best,


Craig

grimeswh's picture
grimeswh

Try turning the temp down on your oven and cooking the bread a little longer. Your probably baking the outside of the loaf too fast and not giving the center of the loaf enough time to cook. It's like baking a roast if you through a roast in the oven at 450 degrees it's going to burn the outside and not cook the inside enough and you'll have raw meat in the center. Also you may be putting too much dough in the tin. The outside of the loaf will be baked while the center is still "rising" and working so it won't bake because it still hasn't stopped rising.