The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

"Over carmelized" Boules and Baguettes....

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johnster's picture
johnster

"Over carmelized" Boules and Baguettes....

Hello!  

Long-time reader, with very few posts has been trying to solve a problem, and is humbly submitting to YOU, kind forum, for assistance.  (I've searched the site, but haven't been able to find a similar post, so I decided to start my own...)

Whenever I bake the basic French bread from the King Arthur Artisan Bread Video, the bottoms get "over carmelized".  (We don't like to call things "burned" in this household, thank you.)  I follow the directions, use semolina instead of cornmeal, preheat to 500 degrees for a full hour, dump a cup of boiling water in the cast iron skillet on the top shelf, use a nice big stone, rise for the prescribed amount of time...the whole shebang.  It's happened in both ovens that I've used, too, so the problem is, presumably, not simply equipment in nature.  I just don't know what to do.

Is this common?  Is there anything that I can do to fix it?  The only thing that I've thought of, which i may have to try next time, is to ball up some pieces of aluminum foil and lift the bread off the stone and onto the "foil-tripod" after it's gotten a good start....Seems a bit radical and counter bread-baking culture, but I can't keep grating off the burnt bits every time I bake my favorite breads.  It's truly causing a loss of face with my otherwise tolerant wife who has endured this new hobby of mine for many, many months, now.  

For the record, my bagels come out BEAUTIFULLY, cinnamon-raison loaves are divine, but my main pursuit, the one that got me into all of this to begin with, is the ever-elusive French bread, the very same loaf that was to be found EVERYWHERE when I was growing up in Chicago, and now seems nothing more than food nostalgia for this expatriate from Illinois, currently wading through a life absent good baguettes in this distant Western suburb of Boston.... 

Please, do help if you can. 

nbicomputers's picture
nbicomputers

your oven is getting to much bottom heat

if baking on pans you could use two pans to stop the problem but this is on a stone

how thich is the stone if it is thin the bottom heat could be causing the proplem i would try a thicker stone is the stone on the bottom of the oven or on the middle rack if it is on the bottom move it up.

this one puzzels me??

Pro Baker for over 25 years-----Ret

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Johnster. 

Welcome to TFL! I'm sure you can get lots of answers, but I've got a few questions first: 

When you say "French Bread," are you making baguettes or another type of French bread? 
What are your loaf size (weight) and shape (baguette? boule? batard?)? 
What's your bake time? 
Are you sure your 500 degree oven is really at 500 degrees? 
Can you upload photos of your "over-carmalized" loaves? 
And, most important, do you like them when you eat your breads?

David

johnster's picture
johnster

Wow, two responses in the time that it took to get from Best Supporting Actress to Best Adapted Screenplay!  Thank you!!!  

Ok, Nbicomputers, let me see:

The stone is  5/8", the thickest one that I was able to find when I bought it, and the stone is on the very lowest rack setting possible in the over....It would be easy to raise it, and I'd still have plenty of room in the oven.  I will definitely try that next time.

Dmsnyder:

This happened on both my baguette (technically a "demi-baguette") and my boules.  The boule weighed 23 oz. before baking, and the demi scaled at 10 oz, but I had to lop off the end: it was too long to fit on my stone after I rolled it out.  Unknown weight after the lop.

Heeding my hero Alton Brown's sage advice to "never trust an oven," I use an oven thermometer to insure that it is preheated to 500 and drops to about 425-450 after the loaves are added and boiling water thrown in the cast iron skillet that sits on the top shelf. 

I will provide photographic evidence of my shame next time it happens.  ;)  

Yes, they taste very good, outstanding even, except for that little bit on the bottom that tastes......over-carmelized.  (They are not, really, burnt through.)  It has just a bit of that bitter burnt taste, and I was able to "fix" it on Friday (when I last baked them) by taking a fine cheese-grater to it.   

Really, thank you both very much for your quick responses!  I appreciate it. 

 

 

AnnieT's picture
AnnieT

Johnster, if you move your stone up one level you can put your water pan on the lower rack or even on the oven floor - which is where I thought it was supposed to be. Hope this helps, A.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Johnster. 

Just for the fun of it, try switching you skillet to the lower rack and move your stone up. I'm thinking the stone may be getting too much direct heat from the element. You want the stone to equilibrate with the air temperature in the oven not be a hot spot, I think. I'm looking forward to seeing your photos. If the crust tastes great, except for the bottom, you may have no problem that moving the stone can't fix. 

Could you be baking the loaves longer than you need to?

David

knit1bake1's picture
knit1bake1

I have an electric oven. On the lowest rack I have my cast-iron skillet. On the next up (still quite low) I have the stone. Works fine for me. Often the dough is sitting on parchment on a jelly roll pan. Sometimes I later transfer the loaf from the pan to directly on the stone. I haven't had burning problems on the bottom.

nbicomputers's picture
nbicomputers

Sometimes I later transfer the loaf from the pan to directly on the stone. I haven't had burning problems on the bottom

Are you baking by sliding (peeling) the bread on to the stone or are you usine a baking sheet on the stone?

baking on a baking (cookie sheet or tray) could be a problem if the oven has a strong bottom heat double pan or put one pan upside downon your rack and the bread on another pan on top of the upside one.  that makes and air space between the pans and the air will insulate the bottom from the high heat and stop the dark bottom. 

Pro Baker for over 25 years-----Ret

caryn's picture
caryn

Here is what I would suggest- putting your stone on the center rack and lowering the temperature of your oven after the first third to half of the baking time.  At one time in my bread baking learning experience, I kept my stone lower and my loaves tended to get dark underneath.  Now I generally bake with the stone on the middle rack, and I am now sometimes concerned with the top getting too brown.  To control that problem, I lower the heat if that is happening after about 15 to 20 minutes, and if  I am still concerned about the top crust burning, I put a large sheet of foil on top at the time the loaves look like they should not get any darker.

holds99's picture
holds99

I would second nbicomputers diagnosis; too much bottom heat in your oven and perhaps your oven temp. is a bit too high.  If your stone is sitting directly over the heating element try moving the rack holding your stone up a notch or two higher.  One thing that works well for me is, at the onset of preheating the oven, I place a large baking pan on the rack directly beneath my stone to deflect some of the direct heat (coming off the lower heating element in the oven) away from the stone an up the sides of the oven.  Your stone will still reach max. temp. it just won't absorb as much direct heat when the bottom heating element kicks on during the baking cycle (at the onset of baking I pour ice cubes into this pan, directly under the stone) to generate the steam needed for the first 8-10 minutes).  Because I don't have a huge oven I also use a parchment lined baking pan for the baguettes (placing the pan with the baguettes onto the stone) and approx. 5 minutes before they've completed their baking cycle I check the bottoms to see if the bottoms need additional browning (the rear of your oven will usually be hotter than the front so turn your pans around midway throught the baking cycle).  If (5 min. befoe baking cycle is completed) the bottoms need additonal browning, I remove the baguettes from the parchment lined pan(s) and place them directly onto the stone for about 5 minutes or until the bottoms are sufficiently browned/carmelized.  Also, make sure that your oven is preheatd to full temp. before placing the baguettes into the oven.  Otherwise the bottom heating element continues to pour direct heat onto the stone, which could cause the bottoms to scorch.  One final thought, check your oven temp. with an oven thermometer to make sure it's at the correct temp.  Sometimes ovens can run hotter than the oven temp. control setting you've selected.

HO

johnster's picture
johnster

I am so pleased that all of you have shared your experience and ideas to help me on this.  If I hadn't gotten sick yesterday, I would have had a Poolish aging at this moment to try out these ideas. (It looks like I've finally succumbed to the cold that our boy brought home from daycare a couple of weeks ago.)

As long as I'm feeling better tonight/tomorrow morning, I will rearrange the racks in the oven and see what I can bake this time.

Thank you, again!  I really do appreciate all of your help. 

Warm regards,

Johnster 

johnster's picture
johnster

Ok.  I've just finished the third turn of the dough.  In forty minutes, I begin my pre-shaping, and, within an hour or so of that, WE BAKE!

I've put the cast iron skillet on the lowest shelf, and the stone two settings above that.

I will let all of you know the results.

Thank you, again.

Johnster 

johnster's picture
johnster

That was the best boule and one of the best baguettes I have ever baked!  The bottoms were PERFECT!!  Now I know: in my oven, keep the cast iron skillet on the bottom-most shelf height, and the stone on the shelt just above it.

 

Thank you, again, for all of your suggestions and help.  I'm very happy that I posted.

 

Warm regards,

 

Johnster 

nbicomputers's picture
nbicomputers

I am very happy for you. and glad that with all the help from every one here you have got the bread thet you finaly wanted.

maybe if you have some time you could post a picture of them so we can all share your sucsess.