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Dec 12, 2006 02:04 PM

Bittman Bread -- Burned on bottom

I've made several breads using the Mark Bittman recipe. They've all come out wonderfully . . . except each has been, to varying degrees, burned on the bottom. I've been using Le Creuset pots, at 450 degrees. The only one that wasn't really too dark on the bottom was one that I took out after 15 mins uncovered, and that one I thought could have used a little more time for the rest of the crust. Any suggestions?

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  1. I don't know the recipe, but you could put the pan on/above a cookie sheet and at worst case an insulated cookie sheet.

    Is your oven circulating the heat properly?

    1. I've made it a number of times using a Creuset pot at 450 degrees. Each time, I've taken the bread out of the oven after 15 minutes uncovered, and it's been perfectly cooked.
      Your oven my not be calibrated properly, so you may want to try to put a thermometer in the oven to check how to compensate.

      1. I too have been having trouble with loafs that are burned on the bottom and have somewhat overdone crusts. But when I reduce the time the loaf cooks uncovered to less than 30 minutes, the crumb is too doughy and moist. I am thinking of experimenting with reducing the temperature below 450 degrees and compensating by lengthening the cooking time. Has anyone tried this? Or should I put the pot on a cookie sheat as suggested above? I use an inexpensive 8 qt porcelain-coated steel pot.

        5 Replies
        1. re: dearborn barkis

          I did this, accidentally. I absent-mindedly set the oven to 400 instead of 450 and didn't notice until I uncovered the pot and saw that the loaf looked a bit pale. Had to bake a bit longer than usual after removing the lid. Crust was not as browned after 30 min covered + 20 uncovered, but it was beautiful and tasty nonetheless, top crust a little thinner than usual. I have been using an 8 qt Le Crueset stock pot (enamel over steel, not cast iron). If yours is the same size, the overcooked bottom may be due to the need to bake on a low rack to fit the pot into your oven.

          1. re: 2m8ohed

            Thanks 2m8ohed. You raise a good point about the pot being so large that it requires baking on a low rack near the heat source. Maybe the solution is just to get a smaller, say 4 qt, pot so that I can move it to a higher rack. Given the amount of rising of this dough, 4 qts should be sufficiently roomy.

          2. re: dearborn barkis

            I've just started doing using a porcelain coated steel pot over a pizza stone and had the same problem. I was hoping your first solution would work because that was what I was planning on trying but maybe I'll try lowering the temperature, too. I didn't have this trouble w/ other pans. I think it has to do with the pot so turning it over on a cookie sheet wouldn't change it.

            1. re: chowser

              Thanks chowser. I'll probably try baking tonight's loaf at 425 degrees. If that doesn't work I'll either switch pot material, or use a smaller pot so that I can move it up to a higher rack.

            2. re: dearborn barkis

              Just something to think about -- you are waiting until the bread is completely (I mean it -- COMPLETELY) cool before cutting, aren't you? If you're not, the crumb will be too moist. If you let it cool all the way, you may get the correct crust doneness with the correct crumb doneness.

            3. Thanks heatherkay. How long do you think it's necessary to let it cool? My kids like to eat the bread when it's still hot and maybe I should let it cool more.

              2 Replies
              1. re: dearborn barkis

                I expect that the interior is still cooking for a while after you take it out of the oven and when you cut it you release all the built up heat. I usually bake in the evening and let it sit until the next day before I cut it. You probably want to wait until the internal temp gets down to the 100o range (get out the meat themo). It should still be warm, but it will probably be done. Other folks may have a better handle on an internal temp.

                1. re: dearborn barkis

                  My copy of the recipe says, and I quote:

                  I know this is hard--and I almost never succeed at it myself--but try to let the bread cool for at least 30 minutes, or it will squish as you cut it and make the interior more dense.

                2. Check out this site. Normally you just need to use shortening or parchment paper. If you use butter to grease a pan or sheet it normally browns or burns the bottom if your not carefull.