The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Over-browning on top and bottom

Abondia's picture

Over-browning on top and bottom

I am new here, but have been lurking for some time. I was recently given the gift of some SAF yeast that works wonderfully and have expanded into bread baking. I baked a spiced bread (much like for hot cross buns) that was enriched with egg, butter and milk and contained 5 tbls sugar.  I folded in raisins and candied ginger before forming and glazed with beaten egg before baking. The recipe called to bake it at 425F for 15-20 mins and then lower the oven to 400F and bake for 25 mins. Following these times and temperatures, the bread WAY overbrowned on the top and the bottom to almost the color of molasses. I was going for more of a golden hue.

Anyway, I am new to bread baking and am not sure how to augment the temperatures and times to acheive the proper color of crust as well as internal doneness. I have had this same issue with brioche type breads as well. Any help is appreciated.

Chuck's picture

My guess is the too-dark crust comes from the addition of the candied ginger. Any sweetener will tend to produce a darker crust. If (as I expect) the candied ginger has a tendency to fracture so there's a lot of "powder", it's adding sweetener throughout the dough.

If only the top crust is dark, the first suspect is uneven heat in the oven, and moving the rack down one notch sometimes helps. Laying a piece of tinfoil over the loaf about halfway through the bake also may help. But where -as apparently here- it's not just the top crust but all the crust, something else is needed.

So here are some possibilities:

  • If there's a bunch of "powder" in the bottom of the candied ginger measure, try discarding it rather than putting it in the dough.
  • Reduce the sugar as much as you can while still retaining the taste you want.
  • Turn the temperature down a little, and make the length of the bake longer to compensate. The crumb should turn out about the same since the temperature and the time went in opposite directions. But the crust will be lighter. You need to judge doneness all over again with a thermometer and adjust the baking time a little to get it exactly right. But the approximate thing I'd try would be 400F for 20 minutes then 375F for 30 minutes.
Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I find these types of sugar enriched breads bake better 25° lower.  Go for 400°F  and then reduce to 385°F if it seems too brown for the rest of the bake.