The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Baking times... what does it really mean?

RedCub's picture

Baking times... what does it really mean?

Hi all gluten gurus,

 I have recently produced a wonderful starter, a la Nancy Silverton's method with grapes.  The breads I've baked have been lovely with fabulous hole structure and a really nice crust.  So much better than any store bought breads I've had in years.

 The question I have pertains to baking times.  Nancy's recipes calls for 40 to 45 minutes of baking time.  I am using a couple of oven thermometers and I have turned off convection for my over.  My oven is an 'in cabinet' model by KitchenAid and I realize it is slightly smaller than the norm.

When I follow these recipes, the internal temperature of the breads have reached their peak (roughly 210 degress F) in about 25 minutes.  If the suggested temperature, 500 degrees - decreased to 450 upon boule entry, bakes in about 25 minutes would I get a better crust or over rise if i lowered these temperatures?

 I've read that crust is mainly developed with steam.  No problem there.  I just wonder if a lower heat would be better

Can anyone shed some light on baking time/crust/oven rise?

Many thanks and kind regards,


Paddyscake's picture

One place to start is to check the accuracy of your oven. A 2nd factor is the size of your loaves. There are such variables in baking that you really need to consider the recipe as a guideline and adapt it to your liking. Just a few thoughts..Let us know how you fare

RedCub's picture

Hi Paddyscake,

I believe having two oven thermometers is a good way to check the accuracy of my oven.  The loaves are about 1 pound each.

My question, if you can answer it, how does baking time affect oven spring and crust formation?



dmsnyder's picture

Hi, RedCub. 

Baking time per se doesn't determine either oven spring or crust formation, although I'm not sure what you mean by "formation."  

Assuming your loaves are proofed to the correct degree, which will vary from bread to  bread, oven spring results from the rapid expansion of the CO2 pockets in the dough which form largely during bulk fermentation and somewhat during proofing. There is also some additional CO2 generation when the loaves first hit the deck, until the temperature of the dough is high enough to kill the yeast. 

To get maximum oven spring, you want heat to hit the loaf full force. This is best achieved with loaves put directly on a well heated surface that maintains heat, like a pizza stone pre-heated for an hour. 

A humid environment during this initial stage of baking keeps the surface of the bread from hardening too early which would limit oven spring. Proper scoring of the loaves also helps by creating weaker areas on the surface of the loaf and directing the expansion of the dough where you want it, generally upward. 

Now, to get a crisp crust, you want a dry oven, so, after the first 5 minutes or so, remove your source of humidity so the surface dries browns well. 

At any given temperature, a longer bake will yield a darker and thicker crust. A thinner crust is more likely to soften as the bread cools, but the water content of the dough will also affect this, because, as the bread cools, water moves from the crumb outward. If you want a crisper crust, you can also leave the loaves in the turned off oven for 5-10 minutes more after they are fully baked so this water evaporates rather than staying in the crust. 

The oven temperature and bake time need to be balanced so the inside of the bread is fully cooked at the same time the crust achieves the desired thickness and color.  

As you can appreciate, there are many variables that effect crust formation, and I haven't even mentioned the roles of dough enrichments like sugar and milk or things you brush on the baked loaves as they cool.  


susanfnp's picture

David gave a terrific explanation.

RedCub, what do you mean by a "better" crust? In general, if your crust gets too dark before the middle is done, lower the oven temp. If your crust is still too light by the time the middle is done, either bake longer (it's really hard to overbake bread) or raise the oven temp.


RedCub's picture

Hi all,

 It looks like I'm on the right track!  Yippee!

Thanks for taking the time to post.  Your information is much appreciated.

Best regards,