The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Crust color mystery!

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decatur's picture

Crust color mystery!

Hello, these loaves are basically Robertson Tartine using KAAF and are from the same bake.  The size differential is due to the lazy baker who failed to weigh the loaves.  The color differential has happened repeatedly (even when I measure weights).  This has happened time and again.  I retard my loaves overnight in the refrigerator in couch lined with linen with encrusted rice flour - I rarely add more rice flour.  The loaves come out beautifully from the couch.   I bake in a home electric oven (old Dacor) and use a steam hood (chaffing dish cover with hole) and steam generator.  Since I cannot fit the two loaves under my steam hood I bake them one at a time.  The bake was done with preheat to 550 degrees convection with a baking stone filling almost all of the rack.  I remove one loaf from refrigeration, load one loaf, steam for 30 sec and turn oven down to 425 degrees.  Leaving steam in place for 18 minutes and removing lid to finish the bake for about 12 minutes.  I reheat the oven at 550 degrees until the stone is hot (using a heat gun to check), take the second loaf out of the refrigerator and do the exact same thing with the second loaf.  The white loaf above is the second loaf in this bake and it is always the second loaf that is whiter!  The crusts are similar in texture and the crumb is the same and very nice.  Has anyone seen this phenomenon?  Any explanation?  Any cure???  Thanks to you all in advance!  Jane

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

"... the exact same thing with the second loaf."

Nope, something is different.  

How about temperature of the cover?  Wetness inside the cover?  hmmmm...  

decatur's picture

I will check out the temperature of the cover & any possible dampness the next bake.  That truly is not flour on the second loaf, I have checked pretty carefully although I admit it looks like flour in the photo.  hmmmm indeed........

FueledByCoffee's picture

It's no mystery...look at the amount of flour on the left loaf and the amount on the right loaf...having a lot of flour on the outside of the loaf can drastically affect the way it bakes.  I think your baking technique is fine...

golgi70's picture

different types of brotform?  Maybe one absorbs a bit more than the other if this is the case?  Sure does look like flour.  It also looks quite evident the first loaf is baked hotter.  The ears is raised higher implying a more drastic heat exchange.  The color of the bloom is also much deeper.  I'd start by just allowing the baking apparatus and oven to reheat for an hour before baking the second loaf.  Keep in my its not just your cooker but the oven that needs to be rippin hot.  

My $.02


plevee's picture

Perhaps the longer fermentation has used up more of the sugars in the second loaf and this is affecting the browning.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

another Q: do you wash the lid cover between bakes?  and when?  It is washed before the brown bakes and not before the frosty bakes.  

A couple of times, I have noticed that where the steam can escape the cover, the loaf crust has been frosted (by the way butter smeared on it as it cools helps return some of the colour)   Try plugging the hole or improve the contact between stone and cover... is parchment involved?  

Previous discussion:

Sean McFarlane's picture
Sean McFarlane

was there a skin on the 2nd loaf?

decatur's picture

Again, thanks for your input.  No, I don't wash the cover between bakes - don't wash it all all unless there is a need.  The cover IS warping and there is a gap! The gap is there for both bakes however.  Yes, I do use parchment.  I checked the previous discussion, thanks.  I will try to bend the cover or perhaps try a gasket on the bottom.  Anyone tried that?

Sean, not too sure what you mean by skin, but the texture and feel of both loaves is the same, only the "frosting" is different.  Jane

tgrayson's picture

18 minutes with the cover on seems excessive; I don't leave a cover on past 10 minutes. Regardless,the loaf looks overproofed, which can produce a pale result.