The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Poor crust color

bbbakr's picture
bbbakr

Poor crust color

 The crusts on the top of my baguettes never turn a beautiful rich brown color.  However, the portion that rests on the baking stone does. The  top portion has good texture, though the "ears" always disappear during the baking process. The crumb has large random holes throughout and has good flavor.  Any ideas on why my baguette tops lack color and why the ears collapse would be greatly appreciated.

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Hi bbbakr.  Welcome to TFL.

The lack of color could be caused by underbaking or a lack of moisture (steam).  

Are  you steaming your oven for the first 15 minutes?    Do you use an oven thermometer so you can be sure your oven temperature is where you want it to be? 

The crumb and flavor of your baguettes sound pretty nice.

carblicious's picture
carblicious

Can you provide more information on your bake?  Steam?  Temps? And Times?

Per LindyD's comment about lack of color from underbaking, here's the same sourdough baguette recipe and shaping, but baked at different temps.   The lighter color was at 425 degrees and the darker color was at 475 degrees F.

 

bbbakr's picture
bbbakr

Thank you both for the comments and especially the the pictures.  The top of my bread is lighter than the one on the left, though the bottom of my bread is the color of the one on the right.  I am using a gas oven. I am steaming for the first 15 minutes: 5 minutes before I put the bread in I place a few ice cubes in a heated pan.  When I put the loaves in I mist the inside of the oven.  I mist a second time after about 2 minutes.  After 15 minutes I remove the pan.  Most times there's a bit of moisture in it.  I pre-heat the oven at 500 degrees F for at least 45 minutes.  When I put the bread in I reduce the heat to 475.  I am baking the bread for about 20 to 25 minutes depending on how it looks.  I use an insta-read thermometer and make sure the inner temperature is 200 degrees F.  

LindyD's picture
LindyD

If you think about it, each time the oven door is opened, heat escapes and that lowers the oven temp.   Since you have a gas oven (as I do), what little moisture is added by a few squirts of a mister most likely goes right out the oven vents.   If  you aren't using an oven thermometer, you should try one just to be certain your oven temp is actually what you think it is.  

Why not try loading your baguettes first, then dump an entire tray of ice cubes into your heated pan and close the oven door.  Don't open it again till 15 minutes have passed, then remove the pan.  

Also, don't hesitate to leave the baguettes in the oven for five minutes after you think they're done.     Am sure you'll work it all out with a bit of experimentation.

bbbakr's picture
bbbakr

Will certainly try experimenting with the "steam".  I bake on the weekends, so I let you know how it goes.

bnom's picture
bnom

not that I have the answer but I can relate to your experience.  I started having the same issues when I switched from electric to gas oven. I could tell along the bottom that there was good color just waiting to happen but the color on the loaf top was pale and chalky.  I mostly had the color issue when using Sylvia's wet towel technique, which produces copious amounts of steam.  Somehow, I need to get enough steam to allow the slashes to open nicely, but not so much that it's interfering with the maillard effect.  

I read something recently (referencing Harold McGee) that talked about how using ice will cool the oven, and that it is best to use boiling water.  I know ice works for Lindy and others but I throw it out there for consideration

 

bbbakr's picture
bbbakr

Your description of "pale and chalky" really hits the nail on the head in terms of the top crust.  I'm going to experiment with some different steaming approaches this weekend.  Thanks for the feedback.  It's greatly appreciated.