They say that we eat with our eyes and that couldn’t be more true when faced with freshly baked bread. With one loaf warm and toasty and golden brown and another one also freshly baked but white on top looking like it came out of the oven too soon, it’s easy to see which one you would want to start slicing.
What happens when bread doesn’t properly brown? First, we will see why this happens, then we will see how to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Reasons Why Your Bread Didn’t Brown Properly
1 – First, check your oven
You may have turned the dial on your oven to the correct temperature but it doesn’t mean that your oven reached that temperature or remained at that temperature while your bread baked.
You probably already have an inkling that your oven has an issue when you have baked or cooked other dishes and they either were still raw when they should have been completely done or you set the correct time but the top of your casserole was burned.
Ovens run on a cycle. They heat to a high temperature then reduce the heat so baked goods can cook evenly throughout. If the temperature in your oven runs higher or lower, even by 10 or 20 degrees, it can affect the brownness of your loaves of bread.
Get a good oven thermometer and test the temperature of your oven so you can adjust it accordingly.
2 – Your bread needed to have a wash applied to it
Whether you are making bread or rolls, your baked goods could always benefit from a wash that is applied over the top to create a golden brown. You can use whipped egg whites, a beaten egg, milk, or even just water for your wash.
You can apply the wash on your bread after it first rises or just before you put it in the oven.
3 – You need different bakeware
Most good bakeware gets better with age but if you have been using thin, cheaply made bread pans they could be causing your bread to cook unevenly. If you enjoy making bread on a regular basis you will need to spend the money and invest in higher quality bakeware.
4 – The bread was either over-proofed or under-proofed
When your bread goes through its first rise process you have an estimated time for it to double in size, then you punch it down and let it rise again.
If you follow the instructions in your recipe chances are your bread will be fine, but if you let it take longer to rise the second time don’t be surprised if your bread doesn’t brown up nicely.
What Can You Do to Make Sure Your Bread Always Browns?
You spend your time and care in creating a beautiful loaf of freshly baked bread only to open your oven door and see your colorless masterpiece void of its normally yummy toasty brown coloring. Is there anything you can do to prevent this from happening?
Yes, the following tips can make sure your bread will always reach the golden-brown crust you are aiming to achieve.
1 – Try baking your bread in a Dutch oven
When you use a Dutch oven you are able to cover the bread while it is baking which means you are controlling the steam involved in baking most baked goods.
2 – Increase the heat
You will have to keep an eye on your bread while it is baking but when you raise the temperature while baking bread the sugars in the recipe will get a better chance of browning giving you a nice golden crust.
3 – Make sure the water you use with your yeast is just right
When you add warm water to activate the yeast in your bread recipe it can’t be too hot or not hot enough. Some bread machines suggest a temperature of 80 degrees F but you can safely aim for a range of 90 degrees to 100 degrees F.
4 – Look for the right yeast for your recipe or bread-making technique
If you use a bread machine you should be using a quick rise yeast. When making your own recipe or just your stand-by regular bread recipe you probably already use active dry yeast.
Make sure your bread starts to bubble once you add in the warm water or not only will your bread not brown, it won’t rise either.
5 – Make sure your bread gets the right amount of steam
It is common for a recipe to suggest you open the door to your oven halfway through the baking process to make sure the bread does get enough steam to ensure it comes out golden brown.
If you are using a Dutch oven to bake your bread simply remove the lid to give your bread a good amount of steam.
6 – Always use quality ingredients
There are really only a few ingredients required to make a delicious loaf of home-baked bread so make sure everything is of good quality and fresh to use and not bordering expiration.
There are so many different types of bread to choose from when baking a nicely browned loaf of warm deliciousness. Besides regular good old white bread, you have your choice of multigrain, rye, whole wheat, and sourdough.
With all of the tips listed above to make sure your bread turns brown, the main points to always remember are:
- Make sure you have all your ingredients at hand before you start baking.
- Treat yourself to some new sturdy bakeware. If you are serious about baking this will be a wise investment that will pay off every time you fire up your oven to make your own bread.
- Pre-check the temperature of your oven to make sure it is accurate. If not, make the appropriate adjustments before you put your bread on the rack to cook.
- Make sure your yeast was bubbling so you will get bread that is going to properly rise and not leave you with flat bread.
- While you are taking the time to bake a beautiful loaf of bread, why not make an extra one or two loaves. You can easily store a loaf in the freezer for a future date, or you can be someone’s new best friend if you share a loaf with someone who least expects it but will appreciate it the most.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.