The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Problem: Dark Crust but Moist Crumb

BBBBaker's picture

Problem: Dark Crust but Moist Crumb

Hi all, I have a recurring problem with almost all the loaves I bake (ciabatta to pain de campagne to baguettes) with different mixtures of flour, different hydration levels, and different oven temps. My crust turns out thick and dark but the crumb of the bread will still be moist and somewhat gummy. I'd like to get a thin, light crust and a much drier interior (whether the crumb is open or more dense). 

I get steam in my oven by both putting ice cubes in a hot pan and spraying the oven well when I put the loaves in. I take the steam tray out after 10-15 minutes. I usually check the temperature on my loaves. I typically let them bake until the interior comes to around 205 degrees, depending on the recipe. Again, the results are usually the same - the crust seems over baked and the crumb seems underbaked. The overbaking of the crust is aggravated when I use any kind of baking stone - the bottom will be genuinely burnt even while the interior is not as dry as I would like it. I've also tried covering the loaves with foil after the initial 10-15 minutes of steam. This helps a bit with the browning of the crust, but it is still thicker and heavier than I would like and the crumb still doesn't dry out well in the oven even after 10-15 minutes of extra baking time.

Any ideas on this? All suggestions are welcome.

Tstockton's picture

From what I believe, I think more steam creates a darker caramelization. Maybe try less or even no spray once and see if that helps? 

Danni3ll3's picture

He said the he figured out that the gumminess of his loaves were due to underfermenting the dough. Are you waiting til you see bubbles at the edges of the dough and that the dough is full of irregular bubbles. You can see that if you use a transparent or translucent container. Minioven suggests taking a sharp knife and cutting part of the dough open to have a look. Then just slap the two edges together. 

So try letting your bulk or first fermentation go a bit longer and see if that makes a difference. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

is to turn down the oven heat.  The description of burnt crust and doughy insides is classic for too much heat.  Try a  slightly cooler bake.  Lower the oven temp and lengthen the baking time until it balances out.

Let your wheat loaves bake until closer to 210°F internal temp.  

suminandi's picture

If you’re making sourdough, both the thick crust and the dense moist interior can be due to the dough not reaching window pane stage of development prior to shaping. So, it may be that a longer bulk fermentation will take care of it (as some development happens with time), but you may need to do more kneading or folding before (or early in ) the bulk fermentation. 

If this is bread employing dry yeast, then I’m with Mini - too hot oven. 

bread1965's picture

In addition to everything said above, I wonder if you have a gas oven? It could be your oven runs not only too hot, but too dry.. it's such a difficult task to get enough steam in an oven when baking only one loaf, short of setting up some elaborate plan to use lots of water/ice / lava rocks/ etc.. I think you'll have a better experience with a dutch oven or combo cooker.. my bread NEVER comes out as good as in one of them.. the combo cooker being my preferred choice.

Richinwalla's picture

I too have tried a variety of recipes and temperatures, a dutch oven and an Anova steam oven.  Invariably my loaves don't have the nice golden color that you see on many Youtube videos, but are much darker. I've tried 450, 400, and 350 until internal temp is at least 200 degrees.  I usually steam for 15-20 minutes and total time between 35 to 45 minutes.  What am I doing wrong?

pmccool's picture

It will depend a great deal on what kind of bread you are making.

If it is an enriched bread, then shooting for a 200ºF internal temperature will definitely result in a dark crust.  Enriched breads usually are done when the internal temperature is in the 190ºF-195ºF range.  Crust color at those temperatures may range from golden to deep brown.  It's largely a matter of Maillard reactions and caramelization that occur during baking.   Various washes and glazes on the crust can also create deep coloring.

Lean breads will usually be baked to an internal temperature of 200ºF-210ºF.  That usually produces a deeply-colored crust, despite the dough having much less sugar than is found in most enriched breads.

Note that darker crusts are much more flavorful than pale crusts.  For many bakers, that's a benefit, not a defect.


Another Girl's picture
Another Girl

Hi Richinwalla. It's hard to say without knowing what kinds of breads you are baking, but for DO baking, I'll assume lean doughs and sourdoughs and not in the APO. You could try starting with a hotter oven to generate good oven spring and then reducing the temp a bit after 15 or 20 minutes. Also, have you checked to see if your oven temp is accurate? If your breads are always coming out too dark, your oven might run hot or you might be placing your DO in a hot spot.

As far as the APO goes, I haven't found that it creates an acceptable baking environment for bread. I know some bakers love theirs, but either they were luckier than I was in finding the right settings or they want different things from their bread. I don't prefer a blonde crust so never experimented with settings to achieve that, but I think that would be a hard thing to accomplish in the APO unless you tent the bread. 

EDITED for clarity.

troglodyte's picture

This is an old thread that bubbled up again, so hopefully the OP figured it out by now.

I noticed that nobody mentioned the oven shelf position. Baking the bread at different shelf heights in the oven may yield different results.