The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Inadequate Caramelization

mpolanec's picture
mpolanec

Inadequate Caramelization

Hello All - Tartine country white -1/2 recipe but otherwise exactly from book. First rise 3 hrs at 72 degrees F, refrigerator proof overnight (10 hrs). Heated la creuset dutch oven in 500 deg oven, turned down to 450 to bake loaf covered 20 mins, 30 mins lid off. It rose to touch the lid!  Top is dark and bubbly, sides & bottom are paler - lovely, but not deep brown I was hoping for. (see pic) Suggestions for darker caramelization on the sides & bottom next time? Thanks!

 Tartine Basic Country Bread

 

Danni3ll3's picture
Danni3ll3

of the pot near the end of the baking time and place it directly on the rack. Putting your oven in Convection mode will also help. 

Super nice loaf by the way!

David R's picture
David R

Pale colour on the bottom and sides is sometimes helped by doing a longer preheat on the Dutch oven before putting the bread in. Thick iron takes a long time to reach its best temperature, when you're using an oven to heat it. The great thing about iron is once you get it good and hot, it "holds" that heat - it doesn't cool down much at all when the cold loaf hits it, so the surface gets nice and brown. The not-so-great thing is that if you don't put enough heat into it during the preheat, then the iron keeps on slowly heating up itself - while accidentally keeping your bread cool. Oops. 🙂

Obviously, this depends how much preheat you gave it last time - if it was already maximum preheat, then adding more won't help.

mpolanec's picture
mpolanec

Thanks!! These are both great advice. I think it’s that I did not heat up the pot Long enough - Recipe says just to heat it till the oven is 500 but now I recall when making Jim Lahey’s bread I heat up the pot for a full 30 mins and always get a nice dark crust on the bottom.  Will try that next time and if that fails will take it out of pot for last half hour. 

Thanks again!!!

 

 

Bread1965's picture
Bread1965

Someone just posted this past week an experiment of two breads from the same batch - one with an hour long 500 degree dutch oven warm up and the other warmed just to 500.. and the difference in oven rise was dramatic from the longer heating time.  But an hour seems like such a waste of energy to heat the oven for so long, so I usually do 30 minutes ..

Also, set the oven rack at one notch below middle in your oven. The closer to the bottom of the oven (the heat source) the better the result too (so long as you're not too low and near the bottom and it burn the bottoms.. but also many ovens are different so it depends on how powerful yours is at how it cycles through the heating process to get you up to temp..)..

Best of luck..

 

mpolanec's picture
mpolanec

Thank you SO MUCH!

David R's picture
David R

Someone who has one of those little infrared heat sensors could check how long it takes the surface of their Dutch oven to reach various temperatures - for example whether a whole hour was helping, or whether 30 or 45 minutes was just as good - but still, that would only give an answer for their pot in their oven.

I think when preheating a Dutch oven to bake bread, it's fair to say you always have to let it run considerably longer than the time it takes to heat up the actual oven. Sure you can try to reduce the time (because all this preheating is time-consuming and uses a lot of energy) - but if it means you end up with worse bread instead of better bread, then why use the Dutch oven at all, right?

There are recipes I've heard about that do the opposite, saying to put the dough into a cold Dutch oven - I think they must have some kind of sneaky magic happening in that recipe. 🙂

Danni3ll3's picture
Danni3ll3

I ran a test a while back and the difference was minor in terms of oven spring. The hot Dutch ovens produce slightly higher loaves but really it wasn’t much. 

Here are links to my tests:

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/54711/honeyed-oats-seeds-sourdough

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/54855/longest-dough-prep-ever-and-few-experimental-trials