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I am baking loaves of sourdough using this recipe: https://www.theperfectloaf.com/beginners-sourdough-bread/

I cook my loaves in a staub cocette and after the allotted time, they're very, very brown, verging on blackened on all sides. Otherwise, they're great (good crumb, etc). I have tried lowering the oven temperature somewhat (and verified it with a oven thermometer), but by the time they are done internal temp-wise, they're still just as brown. Any advice on how to adjust would be helpful.

I am at a bit over 5k elevation and in a dry environment, if that matters.

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  • Have you asked Maurizio, the author? I find he is very responsive.
    – moscafj
    Apr 29, 2020 at 23:55
  • The recipe suggests starting at the highest temperature 260C and then reducing it to 230C. An initial burst of intense heat is important for a well-risen loaf. But after that you could try reducing the temperature a bit more, e.g. 260C for 20 minutes then 200C for 30 minutes. Also try leaving the lid on for a bit longer: the moister environment in the dutch oven will slow down crust browning. Apr 30, 2020 at 10:55
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    By the way, I think your altitude might be relevant: of course it lowers the boiling point of water, so one might expect a drier loaf and more browning. Apr 30, 2020 at 11:03
  • It might also be an issue with differences in starters -- acid inhibits browning, so if it's not at the same pH, it's going to brown differently. (there are some baked goods recipes that specifically add baking soda to improve browning)
    – Joe
    Apr 30, 2020 at 13:18
  • Also worth mentioning that I've had bread that we thought was burned beyond saving (completely black, cooked in a brick oven), but it actually was really good dipped in the drippings from the porchetta that night
    – Joe
    Apr 30, 2020 at 13:22

2 Answers 2

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Some people find very brown crusts on sourdough desirable. Judging from the first picture at your link, the author of your recipe may be one. If you don't, one thing to try is to remove the loaf from the cocette something like 10-15 minutes before the end of baking time. This way the crust isn't directly exposed to the heat of the cocotte itself and will brown less. (We started doing this when the bottom crust was getting too dark by the time the top crust, after removing the lid, was browned to our liking.)

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I've been wondering recently about how fast oven temperatures fall - modern ovens are much better insulated than old ones so the temperature will fall more slowly.

I'd knock a few degrees off the start temperature. I use 240°C anyway, but that's because the oven my recipe was tested in wouldn't go hotter. If you have a modern oven that cools rather slowly, you might want to leave the door open for a few seconds when taking the lid off the pan.

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