The Fresh Loaf

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Pale loaves, bad oven, no choice in oven. HELP if you can

aikiguy's picture

Pale loaves, bad oven, no choice in oven. HELP if you can

Long time Lerker first time poster.
This may be the wrong place, if so someone that is an admin please move as necessary. (Just tell me where it went!)

1> I live on a boat. We cruise to far off places scuba dive with things that you can't imagine exist, and generally have a good time.
2> There isn't a boat oven that doesn't suck. It's because they have to be tiny, propane fired, and have no browning element.
3> I can make excellent bread in my friends ovens, (The bread in my oven tastes good, but is ugly).
4> I can make wonderful bread that looks great, as long as I want it the shape of my very heavy, and brought along only for this reason Cast Iron chicken fryer.
5> Them's the facts. Here is a photo.

theo's picture

please provide some statistics such as bread formula how long you fermented.  Specs on oven. How hot does it get?  Its always best to make the food with the equipment you have


aikiguy's picture

Oven temp about 390
Hydration about 75%
Sourdough overnight for the starter
Instant rise yeast in the morning
Morning Proofing, 1.5 hours, (it;s cold here).
Second rise 35 minutes or so

I can't figure out any way to get more steam in the oven. I could block the upper vent with wet towels, but the lower vent is the entire bottom back of the oven.

I am going to try less proofing next time. I was also thinking of trying a metal bowl over the loaves if I can get it to fit in the oven.

Sigh. Thanks for any help you can give.




idaveindy's picture

Perhaps the solution is not adapting the oven to what you want to bake, but adapting what you want to bake to the oven, and perhaps the range-top.

What would bake appropriately in a 390 F oven?  Maybe dinner roll sized items, or sandwich buns. Maybe flat breads like pita, focaccia, etc.

For the range top, I often have cooked tortillas, chapatis, pita-like stuff, bannock, pizza crust, pizza itself.

Using a covered fry-pan you can get the temp hotter than an uncovered fry-pan on a range burner.

One thing I do on the range-top burner of my home electric stove is  cook the first  side of my flatbread in a pan with the lid off, so most of the moisture cooks off.  Then I flip it over, and cover the pan with the lid to cook the second side.


Adding sugar (either sucrose, or dextrose, dried malt extract, or brown rice syrup, or golden syrup) to a recipe helps it brown more. Diastatic malt powder will allow the fermenting dough to make more sugar on it's own.


An egg wash, or a  light brushing with sugar water (light watery syrup) will also promote browning.


Other thinking-outside-the-box:

- Maybe a new cast iron dutch oven as large as will fit in the propane oven. 

- Maybe a reflector oven, w/ optional fresnel lens, that folds down flat for storage, focused on a dutch oven. (Someone recently linked to such a thing, which is where i got the idea.) For use when docked, as it wouldn't stay pointed at the sun on open water.

Hope this helps.  & bon voyage!

Chef Sonny's picture
Chef Sonny

At first glance it looks like what is called "old dough". This is dough that has over fermented before shaping into loaves. It is also caused by not enough salt in the dough which causes the dough to over ferment. Another give-away is the crust looks "flaky". Here's some tips:

Check the salt amount (usually 1.5% to 2% of the total flour weight Including the flour in the starter).

Preheat your oven about 50 degrees Higher than you want, and lower it to the desired temp as soon as you put the bread in.  Also avoid "peaking" at the bread too many times. A small oven loses its heat very quickly each time you open the door.

Try replacing 20% of your total liquid with milk (any kind). Milk contains lactose which is a sugar that yeast cannot digest, and it will aid in browning. You can also add a small amount of honey to the dough.

Hope this helps, good luck.

bluesbaz's picture

If you have a cast iron chicken fryer and you like the bread maybe go with that.