The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Burnt Bottom of Dutch Oven Baked Loaves

JoshTheNeophyte's picture
JoshTheNeophyte

Burnt Bottom of Dutch Oven Baked Loaves

I've been baking bread for about 3 months now following Forkish's FWSY method and am starting to see reasonable results for levain based breads.  My current focus is to stick with the Country Blonde until I feel the results are really good before moving on to others.

I still have a persistent problem with burnt bottoms.  Following FWSY i typically:

  1. pre-heat the lodge cast-iron DO for 30-60 minutes at 475
  2. put the loaf into the DO directly (no parchment paper or flour) on the middle rack
  3. bake covered for 25 minutes
  4. bake uncovered for 15-25 minutes more (until top is quite brown).  I almost never need to cook for a full hour

I have a gas range and I've used an oven thermometer and the oven is generally accurate and it generally is though the range of temperatures is wide (say +/-25)

Anyone have ideas how to resolve this issue?

 

thanks for any help,

 

Josh

 

 

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

I recently baked a loaf in my Dutch oven and put the dough onto a circle of parchment before loading it into the hot DO. I found the bottom crust to be less 'dark' than what usually happens with DO baked loaves.

Arjon's picture
Arjon

One is to raise the level of the rack that the DO sits on so that the bottom of the DO is farther from the presumed heat source at the bottom of your oven.

The other is to shield the bottom of your DO. I use a pizza stone placed on a separate rack one slot below the one the DO sits on, but a sheet pan, a piece of foil and many other things should also work.

Filomatic's picture
Filomatic

I have had this problem repeatedly, so you're not alone.  I have bought Lodge trivets and baked on those with parchment, with a pizza pan below, and if anything it was under-baked.  But that was a very wet, gooey, fermented porridge bread that was not very successful.

So I still haven't found the magic combination that works, but those are some things to try.

_vk's picture
_vk

Is a bad heat conductor, my last try using a stainless steel baking sheet below the dutch oven helped a lot. 

JoshTheNeophyte's picture
JoshTheNeophyte

did the DO sit on the baking sheet, or was it on a rack below?

 

 

_vk's picture
_vk

Up side down, but i think this makes no difference.

:)

Arjon's picture
Arjon

as can various other things. Ovens can be quite different in how they distribute heat. What you need to find out is what works in your oven to give you the result you want. 

Danni3ll3's picture
Danni3ll3

in the bottom of the Dutch oven and the pizza stones on the rack below my Dutch ovens. I get a great bottom crust with no burnt spots and I tend to bake pretty dark. 

JoshTheNeophyte's picture
JoshTheNeophyte

Thanks so much.  I just ordered a new pizza stone since my last one cracked.

Maverick's picture
Maverick

I use parchment, but I use a combo dutch oven and use the shallower part on the bottom. I don't heat that part, just the larger lid. For a second loaf, it is of course heated, but the parchment always seems to help.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

to 450°F instead?   (and baking a few minutes longer)

and if still burning, drop it a little bit more.

JoshTheNeophyte's picture
JoshTheNeophyte

I pre-heated to 500 and then baked at 475.  I lowered the temp to 450 after the first 30 minutes and lo and behold . . . the bottom was still burnt even with the pizza stone and parchment.  I'm baking again tomorrow.  I'll pre-heat to 475 and see if it comes out better.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

450 and then remove the lid and bake convection at 425 for 5 minutes then remive the bread from the Do and finish in the stone = no more bunt bottoms

caryn's picture
caryn

Hi Dabrownman- I know that this discussion is old, but I recently had a problem when baking the chocolate and cherry sourdough bread from Modernist Bread. The dough has no added sugar except for the dried cherries and chocolate chips, so the recipe states that it should be baked in the combo pot as any other levain bread. His method is to set the oven to 500, add the dough to the preheated combo bottom(lid), reduce the temp to 470 and leave covered for 45 min, uncover and bake 10 more minutes, cracking the oven door for the last 5 minutes of that time.  Because I had baked a previous plain sourdough and its bottom was a bit too dark, I reduced my temps to 475 and 450, but unfortunately the result was a chocolate cherry loaf that was burned on the bottom. I also don’t know at what point the bottom burned, since I did not check the bottom when I uncovered it.

I checked my oven temperature, and it appears to be accurate, so I looked for suggestions on TFL and came across your old suggestion. I just want some clarification. Do you place the combo pot on the stone, or is the stone on a lower rack, or do you add the stone cold when you take the partially baked loaf out of the pot? 

Thanks so much. I will really appreciate your thoughts!

-Caryn

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

Once the bread goes in the DO I put it back on the stone and the oven goes down to 450 F.  Then 20 minutes of steam with the lid on;  Then the lid comes off and the oven goes down to 425 F for 5 minutes and then the bread comes off the DO completely and finishes on the stone.  No more burnt bottoms.

Happy baking Caryn

caryn's picture
caryn

Thank you so much for clarifying, dabrownman! I will try your technique with my next bread.i am wondering by changing so many variables, which are actually solving the problem- adding a “mass” (the stone), changing the time with the lid on, changing the temperatures, and removing the pot at the end. I know this is just academic, as the goal is just properly baked bread, but it would be interesting to determine exactly which components are essential In Myhrvold’s book, he must have had success baking covered for 45 minutes. 

I will, however, start with your method and see if I care to do any experiments. I hope to be able to say that I will no longer be burning any bread!

Thank you,

Caryn

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

showed slipping a reflective cake pan under the Dutch Oven to prevent burning.  Try it! 

Can find the post under:

If the bottom of the loaf is burning when baked in a dutch oven
caryn's picture
caryn

Minioven- Thanks for your reply. I will take a look. If you read dabrownman’s reponse to me, it sounds like he has some really good ideas. If you read my response to him, I make the point that it would be interesting to determine which variables are critical to prevent the burned bottoms.

Thanks again,

Caryn

caryn's picture
caryn

Mini Oven- Thanks so much for the video. Even though I have been baking levain breads for years, I really learned a lot from that video. One of the things that I don’t do is do a final rise outside of the refrigerator. I usually put he cold dough right into the hot pan to bake. I wonder if I might get more oven spring if I allowed the dough to rise a bit more outside of the refrigerator. I know that Hamelman always said that you could put the dough in the oven right from the refrigerator. What do you usually do?

-Caryn

Da Baker's picture
Da Baker

I used to get scorched breadbut... Iload my oven from bread board with moderate layer of cornmeal! Problem solved!!

caryn's picture
caryn

Da Baker- Maybe the cornmeal prevents as much heat transfer to the dough. It is an interesting idea. 

caryn's picture
caryn

I am finally getting back to testing the solutions to bottoms burning using the DO combo method. I think possibly the most important variable might be placing the pot on the baking stone. I preheated the oven to 475, lowered it to 450 when I put the bread in covered DO in the oven. I then checked the loaf at 25, 30 and 45 minutes, pulling it out of the oven and lifting it up to see the bottom. At each time the bottom color was fine, so I left it covered for the whole 45 minutes. I then uncovered it for the last 15, cracking the oven door for the last 5. My theory is the baking stone did act like a diffuser, and at least contributed greatly to solving the problem. Of course, I sill need to repeat this procedure wither chocolate and cherry loaf to see if it will work as well.

leslieruf's picture
leslieruf

and I only get a slightly scorched bottom if I forget to turn oven down from 250°c (first 15 mins, lid on) to 230°c when I remove lid.

Mini’s suggestion sounds really good too. hope one of the solutions suggested in this thread works for you

Leslie

caryn's picture
caryn

this time it worked, but I will continue to monitor this with every bake. Thanks for your reply, Leslie.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

will always be susceptible to burning as the ingredient burns easily.  Ever notice the oven temps for chocolate cakes are lower?  Might want a good diffuser or a lower oven temp.  

One of my favourite diffuser solutions is to take a good sized piece of aluminum foil, crunch it up (not in a ball but as a sheet)  while it's laying flat on the counter using finger tips. Scrunch, pinch, shrink the foil size to about the size of the pan bottom and about an inch high..  Then place the pan (or a bigger one) onto the foil and press down evenly to flatten the foil to about one cm or 1/4" thick.  The foil mat can then be used over and over again under  pots for baking.  

caryn's picture
caryn

Mini Oven- I just wa t to point out that the reason that chocolate cakes or any cake for that matter needs to be baked at lower temperatures is because of the sugar in the batter. The chocolate cherry sourdough does not have any sugar added, though of course the chocolate chips and cherries are sweet. The whole bottom of that loaf was burnt, not just where the cherries and chocolate peaked through. That said, I think your foil diffuser may still be effective for a number of applications.

The thing is, I was already having problems with having a too dark bottom on my other loaves, but until this last bake, I had not placed my pot on top of the baking stone. So at least for now, I am going to conclude that the stone was quite effective. I will report back the next time that I try the chocolate cherry bread.

Thanks again for your input, Mini Oven!  Sometimes I think the analysis and problem-solving is as much fun as the actual baking!

rcoplen's picture
rcoplen

Josh...I have bread books by Chad Robertson, Jeffry Hammelman and Peter Reinhart and somewhere along the line one of them said to  light layer of cornmeal on your breadboard before transfering to oven.This has ALWAYS worked for me, the cornmeal keeps bread from making direct contact with baking surface. Tried parchment, it burned and still got burnt bottom. THIS WORKS!!!

bubblecrumb's picture
bubblecrumb

I'm sure a dutch oven burns the bottom because its the part of the loaf in contact with the sides. The thermostat in your oven is measuring the temperature of the air, but the metal surfaces, including your DO, will absorb and retain far more heat than the air inside the oven. Your oven setting might be 475 F but the metal surfaces, pizza stone, etc. are much, much higher temps. You will want crazy hot temperature on the bottom of your DO to get a big spring as you drop you loaf in, but once that crumb has opened up and the outside has hardened a little, take the loaf out of the DO. This is probably about 10 to 15 minutes into the bake. If the base on your loaf looks just how you like it, you could probably finish your bake on the wire shelves allowing the loaf to come up to temperature without burning the sugars on the base any further. 

caryn's picture
caryn

I got a notice that this topic has been reopened, and since originally posting about this, I have solved my problem for the most part: I preheat the oven and pot to 475 F, then when I start baking the bread with the lid on. I change the temperature  to 445 F, then I uncover and use the convection setting on 435 F. I leave the bread on the parchment paper the whole time. The only recipe that I still have trouble with is the chocolate cherry bread. I may have to start with an even lower temperature for that formula.

 

Dougps's picture
Dougps

caryn- are you still putting your DO on a stone? With parchment inside? 
thank you 

caryn's picture
caryn

To be clear, I set my oven temp to 475 and preheat the oven with a baking stone with the the lid and pot on it for an hour. Then I turn the dough from the rising basket onto parchment paper and then into the flat part of the combo pot. The parchment paper stays in the pot. When I put the pot in the oven, I immediately turn the oven down to 445 and bake for 45 minutes. I then uncover the pot and change the oven setting to 435 on the convection setting and bake for 5 to 10 minutes more.

With this method, I have not burned any of my standard sourdough breads, plus they come out with a wonderful exterior. I am still not sure the best method for the chocolate cherry bread. I think I probably should keep the temperature lower for that formula.

i hope this helps.

HarryWhitehouse's picture
HarryWhitehouse

I bought a set of these on Amazon  With a strong set of cutters, I removed some of the legs so the rack sat about 1/4" above the bottom of the dutch oven surface

.Racks

T&B 8 Inch Cooking Rack Round 304 Stainless Steel 
caryn's picture
caryn

Harry- You will have to report back if the racks solved the burning problem. For now, I have solved this with the stone, parchment paper and lowering the temperatures.

HarryWhitehouse's picture
HarryWhitehouse