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Baking mystery

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Yesterday I made zucchini bread and cut the sugar by 1/3. (This is a recipe from the 1980s.) The taste is great and not saccharine. All my guests ate it with tea, even after a large (including dessert) Sunday lunch. It is less moist than with the full amount of sugar (I suppose that's to be expected).

I baked 4 loaves. Two were in full size bread loaf pans that are heavy gage, silver metal pans. Two were in small bread loaf pans that are heavy gage, black metal pans. The smaller loaves baked faster, as can be expected. However, these small loafs were burned black on the bottom, while the upper crusts were a nice golden brown. The larger loaves had golden brown crusts all over. What can I do to avoid the burned bottom?

My oven was at 350 degrees, per the recipe, although I've never verified the oven temperature. All loaves were in the middle level. The smaller loaves were in the center of the oven, versus the outer edges.

Thanks, hounds, for any insights.

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  1. Dark colored non-stick pans will cause darker undersides; or even burning of baked goods. After many years of thinking that the dark, non-stick pans were better, I've now read, reasearched and learned that this is not the case. The best bakeware for cakes, cookies, breads, etc. is the professional, silver such as Chicago Metallic, which is heavy gauged, rolled edges, and NOT the dark, nonstick finish. I actually think the nonstick business is a total farce, as I never have a problem with sticking in the pro, silver bakeware. Steer clear of the dark stuff. Chris Kimball of America's Test Kitchen, Gourmet Maggie and others have also tested and proven this.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Buddernut

      actually, dark pans are a favorite of the CI/ATK crowd too... just depends on the application. (just saw an episode yesterday where the winning muffin tins were black finished because of their superior browning quality v. silver finished.

      But the fundamental issue is absolutely right. Black finish pans will definitely brown faster than silver. Depending on the recipe, silver pans may never allow the cake/bread/whatever it is the food to brown properly before it is finished. In those cases, a black finished pan is a better option. So don't discount black pans altogether.

    2. I'm not sure if you knew this already it sounded like you might have in your writing but the reason the bread is more dry is probably because you put in less sugar and sugar is considered a "liquid" ingredient even though it is dry. So, if you are going to take out sugar I would substitute a little more liquid in place of that and the same goes for more adding more sugar, take out some liquid.
      I have the same problem cooking in the darker pans. I don't know why exactly maybe they get more hot than the other pans, that would be my guess, but i'd just stick with the silver ones.

      1. Black absorbs more heat. That is why they brown faster. If you choose to do that recipe again and bake it in that configuration of pans, then I would suggest baking the ones in the black pans seperately and at a slightly lower temp and bake for slightly longer. This also means that you will want to adjust the liquid in the recipe (as mentioned above) so that they don't dry out. Good luck!

        1 Reply
        1. re: chemchef

          you can also put the darker pans on a higher rack.

        2. Very interesting! The only other liquids in the recipe are eggs and oil. How much should I increase the liquid? For example, for 1/2 of cup less of sugar, add X cup of oil / egg.

          Another thought, what about substituting applesauce for the decreased sugar? I've been baking an excellent pumpkin bread that includes applesauce.

          1 Reply
          1. re: elise h

            Would you mind sharing the recipe for the pumpkin bread? I have both canned pumpkin and applesauce at home and don't know what to do with them.