Ghostly Crust

Bad Bread

Hi, I have been baking loaves in a new oven and the crust has been coming out white.  Not pale, but white.  I made a pan loaf today, and the sides have the golden color I would expect, but the top is very white.  At first I suspected that the dryness of the oven was causing this problem, but a pan of boiling water and a few spritzes of water are not fixing it.  Even more surprising is that I had a few loaves come out a beautiful golden color, but I'm not sure what was different.  I have been baking my hearth loaves at 400 F after turning the preheated oven down from 500 F (I baked my pan loaf at 350).


The ingredients are: 2 c white flour, 1/2 c bread flour, 1/4 c oats, 1 tsp salt, 1 c water, starter.


Do you think it is dryness?  Does anyone have other ideas?


Attached are two images, both with the same recipe.  The specks are salt on the exterior.  The difference should be obvious!

Peace.  Michael

373 users have voted.


LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2010 November 13

 How long are you fermenting the dough?  I'm taking a wild guess that the yeast ate all the sugar and there is nothing left to turn brown when it is baked.

schmmd 2010 November 13

Interesting.  I give 1.5 c flour and 1 c water and a 1/4 c of starter 12 hours to ferment, and then I formed it into a loaf.  If the yeast has eaten all of the sugar, how do you explain the dark brown spots under the salt crystals?  The bottom of the loaf also has a more golden color.


Thanks for the idea though!  More to think about...


Oh, by the way, the inside of the white crusted loaves is usually delicious.

Postal grunt 2010 November 13

I had the same problem with a new oven. I used the same recipes, the same procedures, temperatures, and times. I was already using a baking stone, some DME in the flour, and about 70% hydration.

A poster at TFL explained to me that there's a sensor in some of the new ovens that is affected by the use of a stone and supplemental moisture. In particular, the ovens that use an electronic temperature control are subject to this happening.

So I just started preheating to 475F, turning down to 450F after the first 10 minutes of the bake, then 425F after another 10 and finishing the bake when the internal temp reaches 205F. I get huge oven spring, nice crust color, a chewy crust, a flavorful crumb, and compliments from my wife. So far, so good.

schmmd 2010 November 13

Maybe I'll have to try higher heat.  This oven, however, is a VERY OLD oven.  Definately pre-1985 (when the house was bought).


Do you think the problem with your oven was that it was baking too cold?


Peace.  Michael

Muff 2010 November 13

I think!

Yes, the dough was overfermentted, and yes, the oven was not hot enough.

Just my two bits worth,


Muff 2010 November 15

My bread at home is on the pale side because my wife doesn't want me to turn it up as high as I should- 480 F-249 C or even higher. Postal Grunt's approach makese sense- give that a try.

If the loaf doesn't darken enough increase the heat next time, and vice versa.

Good luck,


schmmd 2010 November 18

Oven temperature seams to be part of the culprit.  My stone loaf came out better.  However, I baked a loaf in my dutch oven at 425 for 30 minutes and then 375 for 15 minutes and I achieved a beautiful golden crust, so I think the problem may be more than temperature.


I'm pretty sure, after my baking today, that overfermatation is not the problem.  I had an incredible loaf come out of my dutch oven and I had a "better" loaves come off the stone.  They both were form the same dough.


I get horrid oven spring in this oven.  My loaves tend to burst near the bottom exacerbating the lower moisture (the moisture then escapes through the bottom instead of rising through the curst).  I think it's because it is a very dry oven (my loaves rise wonderfully in my dutch oven, even without scoring).  Despite spraying the oven and putting a pan of water beneath the stone, I think the oven is still too dry.  Maybe a cast iron pan would create more steam because it has better heat retention than a steel pan?  Maybe I should lower the steam pan in the oven so it can go around the stone?

schmmd 2010 November 18

Also, I'm wondering if anyone has a hypothesis on why the crust is golden brown beneath the salt crystals in my pale loaves.  I think it's because they are trapping moisture.

Postal grunt 2010 November 18

If you're using a baking stone already, try the Magic Dome. It involves covering the dough with either a stainless steel bowl or a roasting pan during the first twenty minutes or so of the bake. IIRC, there are video clips of the method on the Northwest Sourdough site. It's particularly effective and produces a great appearance with loaves that have been retarded overnight in a regrigerator. Boules really benefit from the method. The bowl and roasting pans aren't too expensive these days so if you want the spectacular in your loaves' appearance, this gimmick will do the trick.

daughter of the... 2010 November 27

Hi, my english is not that good, so please be gentle: usually the trouble with the colortion of the crust could be few thing:

- not enough salt, ( the minimum to work in panification is 1.7%, the ideal is 2%)

- not enough water,

- to much fermented dough,

- it could also be the falling number of the flour who is way to high ( more then 450),

- your dough may be to hot when you put in the oven ( after fermentation more then 26 C),

- to much proofing,

- your pâton is dry ( have a precrust),

- the oven is way to cold, not enough steam ( put a bowl of water in your oven),

- not enough cooking!


it's usually one of this thing so don't change everything

schmmd 2010 December 20

I'm as certain as can be that moisture was the culprit.  This oven is DRY (I bake loaves in other ovens and don't have a problem).  Despite a pan of water and constant spraying the loaves still don't get enough moisture.  The magic bowl works great (at the same temperature, 425, and with the same fermentation times)!  I inverted my dutch oven over the loaf because I didn't have a steel bowl on hand.

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