The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

New oven and crust won't brown or get crusty

Sliss4's picture
Sliss4

New oven and crust won't brown or get crusty

Help!  We have a new electric oven and my crust won't get brown and is not crusty.  I bake on a preheated baking stone with a preheated pan below which I fill with hot water when I put the bread in the oven.  I've used the same recipe and same method with my old electric oven and was happy with the results.  I tried not using a pan with hot water and that didn't help.  I tried spraying water after I put the bread in and that made  it worse.

Any suggestions would really be appreciated.

Thanks, Sliss

breadforfun's picture
breadforfun

Hi Sliss,

From your description, it sounds like the oven is not hot enough, and just to venture a guess, you may need to preheat it longer.  I use a Bosch electric oven that has a "Fast Preheat" mode.  It tells me the oven (with a baking stone) is up to 460˚F in 12 minutes, but my experience has shown that it takes 45-60 minutes to actually reach baking temperature.  Since it is a new oven, you may need to experiment to find its sweet spot.

-Brad

Sliss4's picture
Sliss4

Hi Brad,

I think you may be right about the oven taking longer than indicated to reach the temperature it's set for but I think it's there by the time I put in the bread..  I have been preheating the stone for at least 45 minutes and the internal temperature of the bread is fine in the time required by the recipe.  I'm stumped about the crust.

Thanks,

Sliss

 

breadforfun's picture
breadforfun

If you haven't changed your flour recently as suggested by grind, it could have something to do with the steam.  It may be that the new oven is better sealed than the old one and the steam is remaining too long.  Here's one thing you can try: after you remove the steam pan, try keeping the oven door cracked open at the top for a minute or so to allow the steam to escape. You may even want to turn on the convection fan to help vent if you have that option.

-Brad

 

Sliss4's picture
Sliss4

Am I supposed to remove the steam pan?  Oh my!

breadforfun's picture
breadforfun

If the water is all boiled out then it won't matter.  Steaming after the first 10-15 minutes won't have any positive effect on the bread, and may have a negative affect.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I have a separate oven thermometer that stands on the shelf inside the oven.  Was having the same problems until I turned up the temp.  

I should add that this is an extreme temperature difference!

To be on the safe side...  Check the oven and make sure all oven vents are open and not closed with packing or tape.  My oven was first installed into a cabinet without proper air circulation and trapped heat may have damaged the oven.  Not sure.  But worth looking at.

Sliss4's picture
Sliss4

Thanks for the suggestion to check my oven temperature.  I did this by using a oven thermometer.  It took the thermometer longer to reach the desired temperature than the display on the oven itself, but at a point the temperatures did match.  Since I always heat the baking stone well in advance I don't think the temperature is the problem.

We've found that, in general, this new oven cooks in a shorter amount of time than the old one.  I think that old oven hadn't been heating correctly for some time.  The bread itself reaches the desired internal temperature more quickly than before.  The only problem is that the bread doesn't brown or get crusty which is making me crazy.  Any other thoughts?

Where would I look to see if the vents are open?  Mine is a wall oven too.

grind's picture
grind

I've used the same recipe and same method with my old electric oven and was happy with the results. 

Maybe add a little malt.  The flour could be lacking the "browning enzymes".

Sliss4's picture
Sliss4

This is something I could definitely try.  What form of malt do you recommend and what amount?

Thanks for the suggestion.

Sliss

pezking7p's picture
pezking7p

Sounds like one of two things:

1) This oven seals better than your old one, or does not have as much air circulation.  Trapped or stagnant air will cause your bread to be more moist on the surface and not develop as nice of a crust.  As suggested, try baking the last 10 minutes with the door open about 1/2 inch, just enough to keep the air moving. 

2) Your old oven was baking at a different temperature (which would be why your new oven cooks the bread more quickly).  Try cooling off your oven by 25-50 degrees F to see if that helps.

Sliss4's picture
Sliss4

I definitely think that my old oven was baking at a different temperature so it makes sense to try baking at a lower temperature.  

I think I'll try that first and then try baking with the door open for the last ten minutes.

Thanks.

Sliss

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Some of these new ovens can be turned on to just bottom coil heat, upper coil heat, fan only, check thru the directions and the dials to make sure the upper coil is working when turned on or that you have the right setting.  Assume the instruction book may have a few typos.  :)

Another thing...  make sure you don't have an extra baking sheet sitting on the bottom of the oven. This could be preventing your oven from heating properly.  See if anything is loose "down there" and lifts out.

Proper oven venting.  Most wall units are built into a special cabinet.  There is a double back so air can be pulled from beneath the oven (near floor or compartment directly  under the oven) and directed up the back of the cabinet along the wall and up over the cabinet.  If the cabinets are not boxed in at the top, climbing up on a chair or ladder should make it easy to find.  

Two small screws (left and right) fix the oven in the oven opening and can be seen when the oven door is open.  These can be removed and oven slides out easily to check if vents are covered or plugged.  Mine look like grip holes for picking up the oven.  It's a two person job and be careful not to extend the electrical connection  too far, you may have to unplug the oven to view the oven back.  A small table or toweled chair is handy. The oven installation instructions should give more precise information.   

Odd things I have found over the years:  oven instructions tucked into vent holes, packing material around washing machine drum, overhead stove fans with instructions where the filter should be, extra baking pan insulating the bottom of the oven,  door vent adjustments on the top edge of the door (open the door to locate.  Often looks just like a screw head with a tiny arrow or + and - symbols.)  

Sliss4's picture
Sliss4

You're right.  This does sound like a two person job but it makes sense.

Thanks for the heads up.

Sliss

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I had one oven that when the fan and bottom heat was on, it steamed the oven and blocked the vents all by itself.  I found out years later.  

Now if you don't think the oven is involved, what about over fermented or over mixed dough?  If no active malt around try a teaspoon or two of brown sugar.

Grae's picture
Grae

or I am getting old and blind, but are you using a convection setting? If so, you want to be about 25F cooler, anyway. But it is likely that your new oven is also hotter, naturally, than your old one.

Sliss4's picture
Sliss4

Hi,

My oven doesn't have a convection setting.  Unfortunately, due to the size of the opening, there was only one wall oven that would fit, so no bells or whistles.  Just a plain  old electric oven.

Maybe I'm also "old and blind", but if the oven were hotter than my old one, what is preventing it from browning.  Could it be that the bread is finished baking before it has time to crisp up the crust?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

about the recipe and instructions and baking.   

Sliss4's picture
Sliss4

Sorry for the delay.  Holiday company had me flat out.

The bread is Peter Reinhart's Classic French Bread from Artison Bread Every Day. I've tried forming before refridgerating as well as refridgerating it first and then forming it.  No difference in terms of the crust.

Something else I've noticed about the new oven is that whenever I open it, I get a huge blast of steam in my face no matter what I'm cooking.  Never had this before with any oven.

Sliss

breadforfun's picture
breadforfun

Hi Sliss,

A large part of baking or cooking involves boiling water, as so much of what we cook is predominantly made of it, so your observation that you get a blast of steam when you open the oven door is not unexpected.  I think it strongly implies that your new oven is much better sealed than others you have used, keeping the steam inside until it has a place to go when you open the door.  You can check to see if you have a thick, soft gasket ring around the outside of the oven cavity or the door which would act as a seal.  By the way, the seal will also help keep the heat it, keeping the temperature more uniform.  Electric ovens may be vented or not (mine isn't), so I experience the same thing.  You should be able to find a suitable technique for baking bread.

-Brad

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

from browning.  Open the door half way through the bake to let the steam escape.  See if that helps the browning.  Happy New Year!

breadforfun's picture
breadforfun

Thanks for catching it, Mini, I forgot to close the loop on that.

-Brad

 

Sliss4's picture
Sliss4

Hi,

I don't know what I had been doing wrong, but the loaves I made this week were perfect without changing anything I had been doing.    They were browned and crusty - finally.  Thanks for all your suggestions.  I guess my new oven finally decided to do the right thing.