The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Natural Yeast Won't Brown

DrChaCha's picture

Natural Yeast Won't Brown

After a fair amount of trial and error, I've realized that the yeast that I have cultivated at home works great for rising and giving good flavor, but if I use only that yeast, my loaf simply does not brown. My current theory is that my sourdough starter quickly consumes the sugars in the dough when set to rise, and sugars are required to brown. Any ideas on this? Thanks!


jimbtv's picture

Some more information would be helpful. Your formula and processes for making your bread will provide a lot of critical information. Times and temperatures are important.

When you write of "natural yeast" are you referring to a sourdough starter (100 lactobacillus to 1 yeast) or are you actually growing a specific yeast culture?

Are you able to get the crust colorization you desire by using some other form of leavening, besides your culture?



pmccool's picture

be sure to tell us what flour you are using. That can be another factor to understand. 


tgrayson's picture

You're probably overproofing. Naturally yeasted breads will brown just fine.

gerhard's picture

One thing I found is that with sourdough I still get nice browning even after a 48 hour cold final proof.  From what I understand is that the enzymes require time to break down starch to sugars, so maybe you are at that point where the yeasts have used up most of the available sugars but the enzymes haven't had time to help convert starch to sugars.


DrChaCha's picture

Thanks, all. Gerhard, I've never heard of this enzyme process. I am not very experienced with sourdough baking but a couple years ago I made a starter out of flour and water and I've kept it going in the fridge and out, off and on. I generally use regular white flour and make a fairly wet dough the day before to give the sourdough time to puff. Then I add a bit more flour to get the desired dough texture, do a last rise, and then bake. I've had a lot more success in general, though, when I add store bought yeast to the dough when it's still wet and then bake that day. Does that make sense? 

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

I think it depends on how adventurous you've been with the fermentation. Only over fermented if taken too far! Some breads are fermented more than others, so there is a range, and depending on how much available sugars left will determine how much it browns. If it won't brown at all and you have a thick, hard as brick and pale crust then over fermentation is probably the cause. I find with some of my sourdough that while they aren't over fermented they don't toast like some yeasted breads. Some do but some don't. And don't forget that shop bought breads have a lot of add ins that help with browning.