The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Another pan-blackening experiment

Precaud's picture

Another pan-blackening experiment

Back in May, as part of my experiments to raise the baking temperature of whimpy, low-temp bread makers (which nearly all bread machines are), I painted the upper half of the bread pan from one such machine with high-temp black paint, baked identical loaves before and after, and posted the results:

I see a bread pan and I want it to turn black

The animated GIF at the end is pretty striking. That machine was a low-end West Bend model (which I subsequently gave away) but it validated the point.

This time I decided to try it with a bread machine that is actually worth modifying, one that is otherwise quite good: the venerable Breadman TR2200C Ultimate. The 2200C is completely programmable for time *and* temperature. But it has two issues: the actual pan temps run 40-50º less than the programmed value, topping out at around 320ºF. And due to its undersized heating element, it takes forever for the temp to reach it's maximum.

The theory behind this mod is simple and well-known: darker colors absorb more radiant energy than light-colored or metallic ones.

Like last time, only the upper half of the pan was painted

TR2200C blackened pan

Identical loaves were baked before and after, using the same program, which was designed to bake at maximum available temperature. Here is the result:

I was also more organized this time and recorded pan temps at specific times in the 55-minute cycle.

  • Time    Std    Painted
    :30      301º    315º
    :25      305º
    :20      304º    333º
    :15      316º    328º
    :10      320º    334º
    :05      334º    347º
    :01      340º    346º

As you can see, the pan heats up faster and browns the crust better. The taste of the loaf with blackened pan is definitely preferable.

My opinion, based on experience, is that the breadmakers which create the best-tasting bread heat the pan up quickly to pan temps of at least 170ºC (338ºF). Below that and they're "meh".  Above that and they create bread that I look forward to eating.

This simple mod turns the TR2200C from a "meh" machine into a desirable one. The GIF pic suggests that I could probably extend the black down another inch, and go all the down on the right end, where the heating element enters the chamber and its heat output is weakest. That's what creates the downward slope-right on both loaves.


Yippee's picture

Your earlier experiment grabbed my attention when you first joined the forum. I also observed the positive impact of dark-colored pans on bread, but I hesitated to mess with paint, so I decided to stick with buying only black pans.


GaryBishop's picture

I love stuff like this. Great job.

Precaud's picture

I too stick with dark-colored pans for the oven, but for bread machines, the only option is to modify...

Precaud's picture

Baking in something other than the standard breadpan would solve several problems. No hole(s) in the bottom from the paddles. More importantly, the pans would last MUCH longer because the spindle seals would not be subjected to the high temps of baking. Heat is the great destroyer of the pan seals.

Several threads on this forum have shown exacly that being done with the Zojirushi dual-paddle machines. There's plenty of empty real estate inside the Zo's oven compartment. Problem is, with 290º-ish maximum temps, they're not very compelling baking machines.

The TR2200C is unique among single-paddle machines in having a pretty long breadpan, with an oven compartment to match. It would be great if a standard 9x5 loaf pan would fit in it...

Chicago Metallic 3x5 pan in TR2200C

And it does... sort of. Problem is, it rests on the mounting clips for the standard pan. If one of them were to be removed, it would fit down in just fine. Will look into that later.

For now, one of the ubiquitous Chinese 500g 21cm-long Pullman-style pans does fit nicely. Here it is sitting on a 1.25"-high trivet with a loaf ready to bake

21cm Pullman pan in TR2200C

Here's a pic of the trivet, made from the fan guard from an old industrial power supply with 1.25" aluminum standoffs screwed on as feet. That height is the same as the standard pan's collar.

The other item is the tool used to lift the pan out after baking. It's from an egg steamer set. The set's trivet fits in the TR2200C but is a little too tall for this situation.  Egg steamer with removal tool

And here's the loaf after baking, using the same program as the previous loaf described earlier. The only difference is, this loaf got a 10-hour preferment of the WW and bran with CLAS.

It worked fine. The crust, crumb, and taste are also fine, but crust color wasn't as brown as I expected or would like. Why? This particular pan, the only 21cm Pullman I have, has a dark exterior but is made from very thin aluminum, even thinner than the standard pan. It is only 2/3 the mass of the standard pan. A steel pan with more thermal mass (like the Chicago Metallic) would brown and bake much better. Stay tuned...

The venerable TR2200C is proving to be very versatile, one of the better bread machines that bake at reasonable temps and is adaptable to a wide variety of recipes.

** Added 11/21 ** I wrote above that "The crust, crumb, and taste are also fine." That is an understatement. They're excellent. So even if no further improvements can be made, this is the best bake to come out of this machine, and this technique is totally worth doing.


Precaud's picture

In the last post, the browning of the loaf with a dark-colored aluminum Pullman pan was not as good as expected or desired. I obtained a dark-colored pan with identical dimensions but made of "carbon steel":

This pan weighs 45% more than the aluminum one.

I baked the same recipe using the same custom program in the TR2200C.

Maxbran loaf in steel Pullman pan

Compare this with the pic in the previous post. The browning is MUCH improved.

Crust, crumb, and taste are all excellent!

This has been a very worthwhile experiment.

jo_en's picture

Thanks for all the write ups. I have chicago loaf pans but they are a bit small for a 900 gr dough loaf. I will adjust and try them.  I like the straight flat sides that your pans give.


Your bread looks delicious and tall!

Be sure to write up your recipe!

Precaud's picture

It's a CLAS version of the "Max Bran" loaf in my blog. Still a couple things to tweak, will post when its ready. I've had to keep the recipe the same while making these experiments; good comparisons require no more than one variable changing at a time...


jo_en's picture

You are much more methodical than me.

I take jumps and then crash!!

ok- please take your time.


Sergey clas?

Precaud's picture


Precaud's picture

is finally done:

Max Bran with CLAS

Precaud's picture

Worth mentioning...

Unlike the other Pullman-style pans I've bought from Aliexpress, this is a good pan. Well-built, and the nonstick coating actually works. Before using, put it in a 400ºF oven for a few minutes to burn off the chemicals and then wash. I think the other pullmans I've gotten (all from "world's kitchen Store") were just painted black to look like a real coating.