why is my bread crust not browning

i used to bake doughs at 50% hydration and just recently moved my way up to 75% hydration... but my 50% hydration doughs always browned way better (though still not as dramatic as you see online/in books) than my 70% -- what am I doing wrong? please help!

Sastephanie
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4 Comments

AntoniaJames November 15, 2021
Are you using the same ingredients, but in a different ratio?

Usually, for artisan breads with a high hydration, problems with the loaves not browning one can attribute to the steam that builds up in the oven. That's (I think) why recipes for high hydration breads typically have you cook them with the lid on to start, but then remove for the second half of the baking time.

I'd be interested in seeing the recipe you use. I've done a lot of high hydration bread baking over the past 10 years or so, making breads of all kind. I've coached my adult son as he's taught himself (mostly) how to make artisan breads so as you can imagine, I've done a fair bit of troubleshooting. ;o)
 
Sastephanie November 15, 2021
@antoniajames thanks for your response! I am using a different recipe from a different book actually… I used to use the basic bread recipe from “Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day” and now started using the recipes from “Flour Water Yeast Salt” and his recipes all call for 70% hydrated doughs…

I have always cooked with the lid on the first 20 min and then the lid off for the last 15… his recipes call for 45 min in the oven but his yields are always 2 loaves.

On another note, do you know why bread books almost always yield two loaves? That is way too much for me to make and more than I want to manage…
 
AntoniaJames November 18, 2021
Adding a bit of sugar or certain ingredients like beer or walnuts that make crusts darker could help. Baking the bread longer at the same temperature will just result in a thick, unpleasantly hard crust, so perhaps you could try reducing the temperature by 50° F 10 minutes after you’ve removed the lid, and baking for a longer period. You could also brush with an egg yolk plus water wash, or milk, brushed on 10 -15 minutes after you’ve removed the lid. ;o)
 
Sastephanie November 22, 2021
Thanks!

And if you ever find out why the bread recipe books always call for making two loaves at once please do tell :) it always seems like way too much
 
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