I want darker loaves!


I have made a few sourdough loaves over the past couple of weeks, but I can't seem to get a nice dark colour to them. Any tips?

147 users have voted.


shasta's picture
shasta 2012 December 10

Lighter color can be caused by over fermenting the dough  on the first or second ferment time. All the sugars in the dough are used up. The sugars cause the crust to carmelize during baking giving a nice darker color. 

You can also add a little malt barley to the dough to improve color and taste.

Of course it could also be that you just need a longer bake time.

farinam's picture
farinam 2012 December 10

Hello VanGirl,

Not sure what your oven is like but I start my bake at 250C with a baking stone well soaked (heated).  After the loaf goes in, I reduce the temperature setting by 20C about every 10 minutes so by the end of the bake it is about 190C or thereabouts.

This gives a nicely browned crunchy crust.

And as Shasta says, if all the sugars are used up then the loaf will be pale as well.

Good luck with your projects.


farinam's picture
farinam 2013 January 1

Hello cozzyozzy,

I use an unglazed terracotta floor tile about 330mm square.  You can also use commercial pizza stones though they can be a bit pricey for the 'good' ones and I think some of the cheap ones are a bit suss (break after a couple of uses etc).  I have heard of others getting hold of fire-brick though I think they are smaller and you have to lay several to get the area.

Your local bar-b-q shop or hardware mega-store should have the pizza stones.  You could try local potteries or flooring stores for the terracotta.  Fire-brick is a bit more specialised but a search of the White Pages or the web might turn something up for you under furnace supplies.

Good luck with your projects.


cozzyozzy's picture
cozzyozzy 2013 January 10

thanks for you answer, if I just can use terracotta tiles i'm in luck, I still got a block of clay I could make into a nice big tile!!

Seaniz 2012 December 12

Two quick fixes for your loaves ...


1. Bake with whole grains. That will definitely darken your loaves. I use 50% whole wheat and 20% rye and my loaves are Dark DarK!


2. Add a tablespoon or 2 of sugar to your dough when you add the flour to the water.


3? Bake at 450F and don't take it out of the oven until its dark

petanque 2012 December 12

Bake at a higher tempeature.

Domestic ovens can loose a lot of heat when you open the door.

I bake ar about 225 degrees C for 35 to 40 minites.

if your oven has top heat  more top heat will also brown the top of the loaf.

VanGirl 2012 December 14

Thank you for the suggestions.

I think my oven loses a lot of heat so I with try a higher baking temp. If that fails then it must be the proofing!

Karniecoops's picture
Karniecoops 2012 December 15
I also find loaves that have been retarded overnight prior to baking (ie proofed in the fridge) have a better crust colour and consistency. Once again, that goes back to the available sugars as already mentioned by Farinam and Shasta. K.
rgfletch 2012 December 31

Adding more sugur to the mix is a suggestion I've seen often. Also, adding cocoa powder, in the proper amount, will darken the bread without affecting taste.

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