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Question about oven time | Sourdough Companion

Question about oven time

You can see the finger depressions stayOutside looked great, middle looks under-bakedAfter fixing my Time/Temp/Placement issues

I cooked my fourth loaf today and have a question that I need help with.  This loaf had all the makings of a great SD loaf but I noticed that the bottom "round" section was darkening a lot faster then the top of the loaf.  My cooking method was 475 degree pre-warm in my gas oven, then 15 minutes under a metal bowl sprayed with water over the loaf and inside the bowl with the oven dropped down to 450 degrees.  After the 15 minutes I removed the metal cover, and cooked for another 10 minutes but I noticed the side "round" was getting close to burnt so I turned the oven off, and took out the loaf.  I thumped the bottom of the loaf and noticed a good hollow sound and the top though not super crispy seemed to have some "crunch" when I pressed on it.

The kicker is after letting it cool down completely I cut down the middle and noticed the very middle still seemed undercooked, not airy and fluffy, but more "doughy".

 

Am I starting at too high of a initial temperature trying to get my oven rise under the metal bowl, and then not enough time in the oven.  I made a loaf the week before with the same methodology and recipe (The Pan Fran 1 inside the beginner Tutorial) and it turned out great so I'm a little stumped why the issues.  I did notice this loaf seemed to rise a lot more then my others during the proof.

 

Let me know if you think you need more information,  I removed the middle section about 3 inches on each side of the middle cut and the rest is great.

 

 

Addendum....

Added a picture of my next test loaf after my adjustments were made.  Things turned out great.  475 preheat, cook temp at 425, 12 minutes under cloche, 28 in open oven, 5 minutes with oven door open.  Baked on a piece of parchement paper on the oven stone. Only thing that didn't turn out great is minute I took it out of my banneton the loaf kind unshaped itself.  Thanks for everyone's helpful advice.

9 comments

Hello OmahaNate,

Twenty-five minutes is a pretty short baking time and I would be thinking more like forty minutes for the Pane Francesa recipe or similar loaf sizes.

It is a bit hard to tell from the photo but the bottom doesn't look all that distressed.

Were you baking on a stone or on a tray?  What shelf position were you using?

Pre-heating to 475F is OK but maybe drop it to 400F and see how that goes.

Keep on bakin'

Farinam

I was using a baking stone and the lowest possible oven rack setting I have.  A question when you said "Bottom doesn't look all that destressed", I'm guessing you mean burnt and dark browning.  It was the outer shell of the loaf that was really starting to get dark spots, but I'm guessing its probably from to high of a baking temp and being on the stone.

I think next time I'll try as suggested and drop the oven down to 400 and go for a longer bake all together.  Is there a way to stop the bottom of the loaf from browning quicker/darker then the rest of the loaf because of the baking stone.  All of my loaves I've tried so far (this was my fourth) have had very dark bottoms vs the rest of the overall loaf.  Maybe start the oven at 450 and drop to 400, 12 minutes inside the metal bowl with water spritzed on it, and the other 28 uncovered?

Hello OmahaNate,

What you are proposing sounds OK.  The other thing I would consider is moving your shelf up one level.  That should slow the browning of the base and speed up the browning of the top of the loaf.

It is possible that there is an effect of using a gas fired oven.  I know it poses a problem for retaining steam in the oven because it is vented and that is why a cloche is a good idea.  So stick with using your cover for the first part of the bake.  I have read somewhere a discussion about gas ovens and bread baking but can't remember exactly where.  Perhaps if you search for the topic you might get some pointers on that aspect.

Good luck with your projects.

Farinam

Does the oven have a grill in it?

This can be used to put more colour on the top of the loaf.

I would uncover the bread and turn down the heat after 10 minutes.

 

Time cooks and temperature gives colour.

 

Bread can get very dark before it burns also the steam in the loaf will mean the crust tends to soften after it is removed from the oven.

No grill inside the oven, only a broiler (top flame) and the regular gas burner underneath.  Unfortunately that's my only source of being able to bake in my house.

Hi OmahaNate,

I think you have given your own answer- the bottom rack of a gas oven is too near the flame. Try moving the rack to the setting below the mid-point. I used to have gas and now have electric and the best shelf positions for baking are quite different. Also, as silly as it seems try putting a piece of baking parchment on the stone to stop direct contact with the bread. I have found that this works surprisingly well.

Cheers

I use about the same method that you are using except I use the lower middle rack  and cook at 425°F. Cook time is about 30min or more depending on the loaf size.

Just play with the shelf setting and the temps a little and you should find the sweet spots.

Agree with raising: rather than place the loaf on the lowest, place it on the highest you can manage (but so it doesn't hit the top with oven spring).

As well, you could try place a baking tray (with or without some initial water in it) on the rack immediately below the stone. This can somewhat "deflect" the direct heat coming up from the bottom.

I'm always keen for fairly high heat initially, and like the stone to be pretty well warmed up, but one option you have if the bottom is browning and moving up in the oven and deflecting with a tray still don;t work  is to warm the oven with stone in to say 400  (then place the tray with a little water in it in the base, wait a couple of minutes for this to warm a bit) crank to your top heat, and immediately get the loaf on the stone. This way, the oven is nice and hot for that initital rise, but the stone isn't at its max heat. After 10-15 mins turn down. I bake overall for about 45-50 mins for a 900 g loaf. Unless its going almost black it's not really overdone. I almost always wish I'd left it in a bit longer, too!

I'm not convinced of the argument about gas ovens being dry because of the flow-through of combustion gas. They are marketed as better for roasting meat because they are moister naturally than an elec oven after all (because the combustion of methane produces steam: CH4 + 2O2 -> CO2 + 2H2O). I have an elec oven now but used to bake in a gas oven - I'd put some water in the bottom tray initially for that same reason of making a bit of a heat shield and to get the initial oven environment as moist as possible, but never felt that the oven was exceedingly dry.

Hi All,

To add to Davo's comment about gas vs electric, I have had more than one of each type at various addresses and when I actually got to choose last time I went for gas cooktop and electric oven. The main reason being that my house is old-style double brick and the moisture from combustion in the old gas oven used to condense on the walls in the kitchen and cause mildew in winter (no central heating in Australian terrace houses!) . This problem is almost completely gone now as the rangehood vents the cooktop moisture outside. To me this means that the moisture was in the oven at some stage although could not be seen as there was nothing cold to cause condensation. There is nothing like the old level of condensation on the walls with the electric oven so the moisture was not coming from just the food. I have to say that with the right combo of oven settings and rack level the results are the same with both types (except for my first stove that had a dodgy thermostat and was impossible to set reliably).

Good to see that you tried the baking parchment Nate- I think it works and you can re-use for the next loaf. It also keeps the stone clean.

Cheers