The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Must I use a lower temperature when cooking in a pan?

enchant's picture

Must I use a lower temperature when cooking in a pan?

I have a few bread recipes that I like.  I cook all of them in the Lodge Logic combo cooker covered at 500F, then remove the cover and cook at 450F for the remainder.  I like the crusty crust I get and the browning that the high temperature brings.  But on occasion, I'd like to bake a more squarish loaf for day-to-day sandwiches.

Looking around on the web, the majority of baking methods I see using a pan specify an oven temperature around 350-375.  Is there some reason that the temperature must be lower when using a pan?  I'd like to try replicating my Combo Cooker method and cover a pan for part of the bake, but I can't see 350F giving me much more than a blonde crust.  Is there a downside to cooking in a pan at 500/450?

AlanG's picture

I bake sandwich bread in 4x8 inch pans at 450F with steam for 15 minutes followed by 15 minutes with no steam and the convection setting at 410F.  Bread turns out very nice.  

enchant's picture

I haven't had a lot of luck using some of the various tricks to add steam.  A covered pan has worked very well for me.  I have two identical loaf pans, and if you turn one upside down and put it on top of the other, it appears to make a near perfect seal.

I tried a loaf of my favorite Italian-like bread today in a loaf at 350.  It tasted fine, but it had the texture of Wonder bread.  I'll try bumping the temperature 100 degrees and give that a try on Monday.

Thanks for the reply.

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

I think it's the type of bread rather than the pan that determines temperature. You usually bake an enriched sandwich loaf (i.e. with some kind of dairy, fat and sugar in it) in a lower temperature oven so you don't burn the enriching ingredients. However, you should be able to bake a lean bread (flour, water, salt & yeast) in a pan in a 450F oven with no trouble. Check out Trevor Wilson's recipe for sourdough pan bread on Breadwerx. He bakes this one at 425F.

Re steam: I've added water to a steam pan to bake a lean pan bread, but it works better to cover the loaf pan with another larger pan, then remove this partway through baking. I use this arrangement for my 100% rye breads.

The big pan is a steam table insert from a restaurant supply store. I get used ones for $5 or so. Just right!