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Why does bottom of my bread loaves burn? - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community

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Why does bottom of my bread loaves burn?

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  • Why does bottom of my bread loaves burn?

    I tried baking several types of bread and can not seem to get that crispy crunchy exterior. I am baking on the oven floor at about 500 degrees and the bottom of the loaves all start turning black before the upper part has a chance to turn brown and crispy. The bread still tastes good but does not have the crispiness i want.
    I preheat until I get the oven dome starts to turn white and let it cool down to about 550. I let it stabilize for about 30 minutes and add a tray of hot water to generate steam. When I put the loves in, usually 2, I also mist the oven and use an oven door to seal the heat in.
    The last batch I made I put a baking tray under the loaves and it seemed to help some but that is not really what wood fired baked bread is all about, is it?
    Any suggestions?

    Thanks

    bobnnorm@ptd.net

  • #2
    Re: Why does bottom of my bread loaves burn?

    Originally posted by bobnnorm View Post
    I let it stabilize for about 30 minutes and add a tray of hot water to generate steam.
    I think our Guru of bread, Jay, lets the oven equalise for about 2 hours to get all the oven at an even temp.
    The English language was invented by people who couldnt spell.

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    • #3
      Re: Why does bottom of my bread loaves burn?

      I always cook my bread on trays for this reason. It also makes for less handling of the dough because you can let the loaves rise on the trays.I only cook a few loaves at a time anyway so they don't really pull too much heat out of the floor. Maybe with a fully loaded oven the loaves will cool the floor substantially to prevent the burnt bottoms. You could also wait for the temp to drop a little more before placing the bread.

      Another advantage of using trays is that you don't have to mop the floor. In fact I don't even remove the ash, just most of the coals. But I admit I am a lazy baker.
      Last edited by david s; 01-27-2012, 04:39 PM.
      Kindled with zeal and fired with passion.

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      • #4
        Re: Why does bottom of my bread loaves burn?

        It would be good to know a bit about the bread you are baking, mostly if there is added sugar of any quantity.

        I super heat my oven till the dome clears. I take out the coals and shut the door for about 1.5 to 2 hours. Then I mop out the floor and shut the door for about 15 minutes then mop once again then load my bread. My floor temp is closer to 500 at this point.

        Hope that helps

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        • #5
          Re: Why does bottom of my bread loaves burn?

          Thanks for the response. But will using trays give results different from baking on the oven floor? That is, a less crusty or crunchy bread or will the texture be basically the same? In my last batch I tried placing the loaves on an upsidedown baking tray when they started to burn and it did slow it down a bit. Do you use the trays as you would normally or do you invert them? I thought about putting the loaves on the tray for the first segment of baking and then put them on the floor to finish. Does this sound like a good idea.


          Thanks again

          bob

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          • #6
            Re: Why does bottom of my bread loaves burn?

            Thanks for the responses. I'll try letting it stabilize for a longer time and see what happens.

            Bob

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            • #7
              Re: Why does bottom of my bread loaves burn?

              do you mop your floor? it really helps this is a shot of my bread and I did not use pans just the mop. http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/atta...s-img_2136.jpg

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              • #8
                Re: Why does bottom of my bread loaves burn?

                Bob,
                I cannot speak from experience, but I'm wondering if you need to load your oven dome more so that it radiates a heat level that more equally matches the floor. This way the loaves would receive more top heat, reducing the time the loaves stay in contact with the floor.
                BTW- what is the height of your dome on the inside?

                John

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                • #9
                  Re: Why does bottom of my bread loaves burn?

                  If using trays, remove the loaves and place them on a rack to keep the bottoms crusty.
                  Kindled with zeal and fired with passion.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Why does bottom of my bread loaves burn?

                    If you're pressed for time and can't wait for the oven to stabilize fully, just put the bread on two *nested* sheet pans; the air space between the pans will insulate the loaves from the floor, which should eliminate the burning.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Why does bottom of my bread loaves burn?

                      From the little you tell us (heating until the dome to 550 or even cleared at 800 or so) the oven is WAY UNDERSATURATED. The norm for bread is to continue firing for at least another hour and half OR THREE. You clearly haven't put enough heat into the refractory - particularly the dome. The temp of your dome is dropping like a rock as the heat flows not into the oven and to the bread but out of the oven toward the insulation. Did you check your dome temp at the end of a bake. It is probably below 300. The top will never turn brown and get crispy in a cold oven. Also...how are you humidifying the oven. That has a major impact on crust.

                      To your burnt bottoms???? How are you measuring temp. Something is askew. Perhaps your fire building is loading the hearth (but that is not totally credible). Again, as Faith, I think, asked, tell us the formula. Sugar and oil can contribute to burning.

                      And yes there are subtle differences between hearth baked and pan baked bottom crusts but I don't know how to verbalize them.

                      There is plenty of good info on baking bread on this website. Follow the proven procedures and experiment with shortcuts after you are having success. Then you can learn. Taking shortcuts before you have success is unlikely to get you very far!

                      PS: To answer the specific question posed in your Subject line: The temperature of your hearth is too hot for the length of time your dough is on the hearth. As 500 should be a pretty safe temp, I can't tell you why it is "too hot" (bad temp?) or why it needs to be on the hearth so long (more clearly the dome temp is a factor but?), or why your hearth and dome are so far out of balance (inadequate heat loading is probably the cause but there are other considerations that you have not clarified).

                      Good Luck!
                      Jay
                      Last edited by texassourdough; 01-28-2012, 07:42 AM.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Why does bottom of my bread loaves burn?

                        I agree with Jay on the heat loading of your oven. I found that starting a fire the night before a bake day (usually 20-25 loaves) is helpful when you want a good heat saturation for the oven. I shoot for a dome temp of about 200F at 7 am on bake day. When I use the remaining coals to start the morning fire, I'm not starting with a cold oven and I'm reducing any possible temperature shock on the masonry. Once the fire started in my "warm oven" I've found that having 3-4 hours of dome temp at +600F before baking is essential for deep heat loading. My oven's equalization time will vary between 1-2 hours after the heat loading fires and often times I'm putting in a load of baguettes at 575-590F as the start of my baking (normally around 2 pm).

                        Something I didn't see in your post was the total time you're baking the loaves. My 13 oz baguettes are done in 18-20 minutes. Also, when I started making bread in the WFO I found that if I moved my loaves around during the bake, they tended to burn on the bottom. My thought is that once you put a dough loaf on the oven floor, it cools that spot a bit. The heat is slowly returned to the contact area of the loaf as the bread bakes and doesn't return to starting hearth temp during the normal loaf bake time...less "excess carmelization" -- so don't move your loaves around in a hot oven during the bake.

                        Also, as was pointed out, enriched breads (+whole wheat & rye breads) can easily burn in an oven that's too hot...the inverted or double sheet pan trick works pretty well for the bottoms and a piece of foil works for the top.
                        Mike Stansbury - The Traveling Loafer
                        Roseburg, Oregon ( www.sablesprings.com )

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                        • #13
                          Re: Why does bottom of my bread loaves burn?

                          Hi Mike!

                          You are definitely right about the dough cooling the hearth. I have not seen credible numbers but when you put wet dough at 80 F on hot hearth at say 500 F the dough will both cool and emit steam that will cool the hearth surface to the 212 range. Now, the temp 1/4 inch below will be 500 or so initially (assuming good insulation and loading) and that heat (and deeper) is what flows to the surface to cook the bread. (I know you know that but this is to be more complete for other readers!) When you pull the bread from the oven the hearth will probably be no hotter than 300 to 325.

                          I am always amazed by the low temp at which many FB people load. I usually load at 565 F on the hearth but my loaves are 1.5 to 2 lb boules and they need a bit more time (so a cooler oven). Your time of 18 -20 minuted for baguettes at 580 or so makes good sense. This spring I need to do a baguette bake. Since I spent a week at SFBI on baguettes I make them great indoors but I have to make them SHORT and it would be wonderful to make some LONG baguettes! Yes! Gotta do that!

                          Good comments! (Good to know you are in Roseburg. I may have to look you up next time I am in Oregon for steelhead - like this fall!)

                          Bake On!
                          Jay

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                          • #14
                            Re: Why does bottom of my bread loaves burn?

                            You all are firing longer and loading hotter than I typically do. I need to try those. Pulsing, like Mike suggests through multiple fires really heat loads the oven too. I was skeptical about that until I tried it and had my oven stay cooking hot for almost a week.

                            Outside of firing technique, I've had good luck using brown rice flour under the loaves to prevent burning. I think you told me about that, Jay. I'd also agree with not moving the loaves around.

                            Bill

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                            • #15
                              Re: Why does bottom of my bread loaves burn?

                              Wow! Bill! I envy your insulation! WOW! Your big challenge is undoubtedly getting the oven cooled down to baking temps. (It cools pretty fast with the door open but... that that invites problems too). Yeah, brown rice flour will help if your hearth is too hot but...the goal is to have it the right temp!

                              I would almost bet your hearth is warmer than the dome when you bake - i.e. your hearth mass and insulation may be more efficient than the dome. It is my impression that most ovens have domes at baking conditions that are 20 to 40 F warmer than the hearth (after equalizing). Have you checked yours?

                              The reason that pulsing works so well is that the preliminary fires warm the deep refractory. As a result it doesn't "drag down" the temp of the surface by sucking heat out of the oven as much.

                              Thanks!
                              Jay

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