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Help required for a pale crust...


Hi all.

Been lurking for some time now...gained many recipes and methods along the way!

Thanks all!

So, after a few mths baking ive managed to produce some great bread.

The top always seems to be greyed, kinda flour-y.
Ive tried with and without steam. Even tried spraying directly onto loaves after slashing.
The bottom inch around the loaf is spectacular, deep rich browns and yellows, caremelized and almost glistening and a bit shiny...but the top comes out dull. powdery even

Have a look at my last 2 bakes. (I run a cafe in who's kitchen these were baked )


...can anyone offer some advice here?

254 users have voted.


gt 2007 November 18


Like the others have said, I think you need to get steam into your oven somehow to get a different crust. My gas oven gives a crust like yours if I don't use a lot of steam.

What I would really like to ask is how did you take the excellent pictures? IMO they are about as good as they get.

Thanks gt

sam 2007 November 20

Thx gt. Took the first lot with my phone! Lots of good light around and a fantastic subject matter to boot.. ;]
Second bake with the digi-cam, jpeg'd for posting. Think thats what youre asking...?

Anyway, been tring the final shape using semolina. Great results. Much better finish and overall look for the batards and boules. Ciabatta, foccacia and baguettes still look more the part using flour....
Plus, it seems to be much less messy-er using semolina for my workspace : easy cleanup. yay.

I think my main problem is the dry heat of the oven. The oven is a Blue Seal commercial one. Huge gas ring at the bottom under the 'floor' peice. Tried adding ALOT of steam (pan of boiling water plus liberal spraying) great rise, great loaves but stripped of browness on top by the end of the bake.

Next i will try the cloche method, as per SourDom's advice...Gonna find me a big flowerpot me thinks...

Back with pics, when loaves stop getting eaten first...but in the meantime have a look at my ciabatta and its final destination/presentation. Those Italians are smart cookies...


Cheers, Sam.

sam 2007 December 3

And success!

Result is due to semolina for final shape, and spraying the buggery out of the loaves all through the bake.

Thanks all!


TeckPoh's picture
TeckPoh 2007 December 3

[size=150]Gawsh!!![/size] I'd love to have breads like that!

What do you mean by using semolina for final shape? And, the nuts/seeds, were they pressed into the slashes or were they folded into the dough at some stage?

sam 2007 December 4

Thanks TechPoh.

I am using semolina flour, as opposed to plain white, to dust bench surface and dough during final shaping.
Using plain flour definately pales the crust of my bartards (although [i]is[/i] essential when making ciabatta).
The sparse-ness of the semolina seems to let more of that browns of the fermented dough come thru.

The walnuts and olives you see on the second loaf were thrown in after bulk fermentation, just before final shaping.
I flattened the dough out into a big rectangle, sprinkled 75g sliced kalimata olives and 75g walnuts and rolled it up - old school style. The plain was shaped with the more traditional method of bartard shaping, and both seemed to come out the same...


TeckPoh's picture
TeckPoh 2007 December 4

Thanks, Sam. Bread porn they are.

On your using semolina, it all depends on why your breads were pale. If it was a result of the presence of flour in shaping and proving, then I suppose using semolina will let the brown-ness show (more). However, paleness due to depleted sugars from overproving, will not 'improve' in colour even if there was no flour to mask it. This is all assuming that it was a bread made from flour, starter, salt, water and was not a sweet rich bread. Just my 2 sen.

Croc 2007 December 9

sam your breads look fantastic as they are but if you want to try something here is how i get darker look
this only works when i bake on pizza stone btw, without the stone i burn bottom too much
preheat oven to max you can, my oven goes to 250C
spray with water and pop in a oven on the stone
good splash (close to 1 cup) of boiling water at the bottom of my oven
close oven door and first 20-25min leave it on full heat
i find that best colour you get in high temperatures at the start of your bake, if you have pale crust half way while baking there is very little you get out of pushing temperature up
once you get colour you want lower temperature, i find best colour and taste when i bake this way also bread seem to last longer this way, where it still taste great couple days after the bake and it is almost imposible to burn your bread as long as you have stone at the bottom and not too close to the top of your oven (if it is electric with heating element at the top)

SourDom 2007 October 21


your loaves look pretty spectacular from my point of view, so don't be disheartened!

It is hard in a domestic oven to get enough steam to achieve the crust colour that you can get with a professional or hearth oven.
My suspicion is that if you could get more steam in your cafe oven you would get a better effect.

I don't know what sort of oven that you are using, but if it is fan-forced, then you could try turning the fan off, or using a trick that I used to use with my fan oven (when I had one)
see (go to the post "fan ovens" - for reasons that I don't understand I can't link to it directly)

alternatively - to see what difference steam and radiant heat make - try baking in a pot
for comparison, these were loaves I baked this week
the one on the left was baked in the pot.

THey both have reasonable colour, and in fact the one baked outside the pot is darker, but this reflects more their position in the oven (my current oven is cold at the bottom and hot at the top). But in my oven at least, I can only get the russets and golden tones if I bake in a casserole/pot


Panevino 2007 October 22

Hello Sam,
that happens to me sometimes as well. Try using less dusting flour or what I've been doing lately is dusting with fine semolina flour or a mix of white flour and semolina. The coverage is not as absolute and the true colour of your laof may come through. As a bonus, the semolina bakes toasty and nutty.


ryanjs 2007 October 23

I ran into the same problem a while back, however most of my loaves were much closer to being white then your pale brown (probably because I only have used white bread flower). I have “cured” this problem by misting the bread a few times while it’s baking. I am still trying to find out how many times and at what times to mist the bread for the best results (a nice shiny, crispy, golden brown crust), but I currently spray it five times during the first fifteen minutes of baking. I believe the intervals and number of sprayings are different from oven to oven. I have only been baking sour dough for about half a year, so don’t put to much stock in my words.

sam 2007 November 4

Thanks all for the great tips.

Will try the suggestions...shaping/dusting with semolina and using the pot method.

Will be back with pics soon!

Thanks again all,

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