The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Bread won't brown properly

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bobku's picture
bobku

Bread won't brown properly

I can't seem to get my SD bread to brown properly. It ends up being cooked inside to over 205 degrees. but outside is pale. I bake it at 450  20 minutes covered with aluminin roasting pan to make crisp crust. Then turn down to 425 uncovered until inside temp is about 205.  It just never gets that goden color I've seen on other breads. The inside is cooked just fine and crust is crispy. Should I just cook until outside color looks to what I want, but probably over cooking the dough. I have check oven temp and its fine. Bread ferments for about 4 hrs. I'm also using baking stone preheated up about an hour before

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

Hello,

I've been trying various things to hold in moisture during the first 15 minutes or so of baking.  An aluminum foil roasting pan was one (inverted over the stone that was pre-heated), but I am finding that its lack of heft or maybe its flexible sides seem to allow too much for the escape of moisture.  I'm not saying it can't work -- just that it isn't as reliable as something that has perfectly flat edges and some weight to hold it down and seal it against the stone.

I have used stainless steel mixing bowls to good effect.  Of course, you want one that is just the right diameter to fit the width of your stone.  My stone is 16.5 long x 14.5 inches wide, so a 14-inch diameter bowl with very deep sides does the trick.   I spray the insides very briefly with a little water before use, I leave it to cover the loaf for maybe 15 minutes or so, and then use a hamburger spatula to lift it off the stone and allow the loaf to continue baking in the dry oven uncovered.

-- Dan DiMuzio

bobku's picture
bobku

I have no problem trying to make crispy crust using inverted aluminum foil roasting pan. It works great. Trying to figure why my crust is pale ?

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

A pale crust results from no caramelization having occurred.

Caramelization is the browning of sugars.

If the outside of the loaf dries out too early, then an enzyme called amylase doesn't have enough time to convert starches in the crust into sugar.  Not enough sugar in the crust means there will be insufficient caramelization for puposes of browning.

You can get a hard crust with no covering at all, but if you want the crust to brown, then the surface of the loaf must be kept moist for the first 10-15 minutes of the baking cycle.  If your cover doesn't do a sufficient job of retaining the moisture, the loaf's surface will begin to dry out (harden) before starch conversion has taken place.

-- Dan DiMuzio

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

Do you have a well calibrated oven thermostat? Are you sure that 425°F is really? I suspect not, but there are a number of things you can do:
Don't reduce the oven temp when you take off the cover.
Bake without the cover (or at least take it off sooner) and see what the color is.
Add some sugar to the dough.
Add some diastatic malt to the dough.
Brush on some unsweeted condensed milk just before baking.

Chuck's picture
Chuck

First thing I'd try is turning up the oven a little (and correspondingly reducing the time). Maybe 475F initially, then turn down to 450F?

You can also affect crust color by modifying the ingredients a little. Any sort of sweetener will make the crust darker (molasses works very well).  A tiny bit (1/4 teaspoon per loaf or less) of diastatic malt will too (my understanding is it breaks down the flour enzymatically to produce the equivalent of sweetener). My experience is a very small amount of diastatic malt has such a huge impact on the crust and on fermentation that it's easy to get "too much" (if it's way too much, the crumb will remain "gummy" no matter how you bake it).

Home Baker's picture
Home Baker

I've found that poor crust color (washed out, dull, pale color, refuses to brown) is usually the result of an over proofed dough. Maybe get the shaped loaves into the oven at something under doubled?

bobku's picture
bobku

 I checked the oven temperature again and found that is was off by about 25  degrees. I have adjusted for it  and  also placed a weight on top of alumin roasting pan to hold in moisture in, since then my  bread is finally browning right nice color with plenty of blisters.