Help needed: Dry bread tops that don't brown while baking?

From my inbox:

I love making bread and I have never had problems before (just standard ones you have when trying new recipes) but my old favorites are affected by this problem as well now.

The tops are so dry looking and they don't brown -- they are white like this morning's french bread loaf. I made 2 loaves of white bread this weekend and they were doing the same thing. I even buttered them before baking and they were still dry and white.

I am wondering if it is the flour. The one I was using when this started felt heavy and thick and maybe even humid. So I switched to another brand and it is the same way. I am wondering if the flour is humid and heavy since we live in Mississippi and it is humid here. Maybe I should sift it first and store it in an airtight container instead of what I have now? Or could it be to much oil when I oil the bowl for it to rise? Or could it be I am baking them too high in the oven? -- Erika

The only bread I regularly make that doesn't get browned (and has a dry crust) is my Italian bread, which has no oil or sugar -- just flour, water, salt, and yeast. But it's supposed to be that way!

Reading about Erika's dilemma reminded me of our first couple years of marriage, when we lived in Missouri. I had made lots of homemade bread before moving to Missouri (from Ohio), but for some reason, I had the most difficult time making homemade bread that had a good texture when we lived in Missouri.

We traveled to Ohio a few times during those years, and I made bread at my mom's house, with perfect results. When we moved here to Ohio ourselves, my bread was excellent. I never did figure out what my problem was with making homemade bread while living in SW Missouri...

But anyway, does anyone have any ideas for Erika? It's confusing when the same recipe/ingredients/technique start producing strange results!


Optimal Results
Submitted by Anonymous
I know that my husbad knew me as the one who made homemade bread that was burnt on the outside - but good on the inside.

Lately I have tried reducing my baking time - that has made all the difference in the world. I just figured it was my old oven - but perhaps not? I know most recipes call for about 40 min. baking time. I have been taking mine out after about 25 minutes of baking time. This has brought optimal results for me - I was so scared that the bread would not be done on the inside - but thus far - it has been fine! Perhaps you could reduce the baking time by 10 min each time and find out when it is just "perfect" for you and yoru family. Just a thought that has worked for me. Hope you get it figured out.

Happy Baking

Bread baking
Submitted by Martha Artyomenko
I would say it probably has to do with your oven rather than ingredients.
You could do an egg wash as it always gets brown then

Submitted by Anonymous
Ah, I can relate! Haven't had that particular problem, though I'd guess perhaps it's your oven?

Tammy-- it's amazing how a little elevation, a bit of difference in humidity and all that can affect bread! We made beautiful bread in Alaska, but since we've come up all these thousands of feet in Colorado, and the climate is so different, bread is a little more challenging.

These tips, though, are helpful for common bread problems:


- Water too warm
- Period of Rising has been too long. Punch down and reshape if it has been rising for more than 60 minutes
- Temperature too high while rising
- Poor Yeast


- Too much flour in dough
- Over- Baking


- Unevenness of Temperature while rising
- Insufficient Kneading
- Old Flour
- Old Yeast


- Baking before sufficiently light
- Oven too hot at first


- Oven too slow
- Baked too long
- Excess of Salt


- Shortening added to flour before liquid, thus allowing flour particles to become coated with fat before they had mixed evenly with the liquid


- Too much liquid
- Insufficient baking
- Cooling in an airtight container/plastic bag


- Not molded well originally
- Too large a loaf for the pan
- Rising period too long
- Loaves flat on top may result from inadequate kneading


-Dough not sufficiently kneaded (You should knead the dough for at least 8-10 minutes)
- Before shaping dough into loaves, make sure gas bubbles are kneaded out
- Do not let dough proof too long or too fast in the baking pans. When the loaf hits the heat of a preheated oven it will rise a little more.

Chantel Harding

Submitted by Chantel Harding
Ah-- I meant to log in, but forgot-- the above bread tips (or perhaps they will not show up?) were taken from a cookbook we have, not our own creations. :)

Dry Bread Tops
Submitted by Anonymous
I would first look at your heating element on the top of your oven. It may not be working properly.

Submitted by songofjoy02
What recipe is Erika using? I've never had white bread fail to brown if I put sugar in it. :?


Browning bread
Submitted by Anonymous
Here are a few ideas...

Make sure that you bake your bread on the lowest rack of the oven.

If you want a brown crispy top spray water in the oven around the bread several times during baking.

Use an egg wash.

There is a favorite book of mine "Beard on Bread" that has lots of information that you might find at the library or on Amazon

Good Luck -


Check your oven
Submitted by Anonymous
I agree with Martha--check your oven to be sure it's working properly. We had an oven element go out once after several weeks of sporadic functioning, including some very pale-looking pizza crusts!

Submitted by Anonymous
I doubt that your oven temp is too high. When the temp is too high, the bread will tend to brown (and burn!) quickly, while the inside may still be somewhat underdone. You could try a higher temp in the oven (do you have an oven thermometer? That might help figure out what's going on). You can also place the bread on a higher rack in the oven. Also make sure you preheat it well. If your bread is otherwise perfect, you might even get creative and turn the broiler on and just toast the top! ;) Just watch it because if you forget it for a minute, your bread will be black.

Good luck!

Oh and songofjoy02 is right, too. Breads with sugar brown faster at lower temps, so using a sweeter recipe may help.

Thank You for Bread Tips!
Submitted by Erika
Thank you very much for all who gave suggestions. I made a loaf yesterday using a recipe I stopped using because I didn't like how it turned out where we used to live! 50 miles south of here. But it turned out great and golden. I do have a thermometer and the oven is working fine temp wise. I also started sifting all my flour for everything and that seems to help alot with all my baking recipes. The flour is just so heavy and dense and makes a heavy and dense product. I started having problems when the humidity and heat really kicked in here in July and August. So it might be a combination of things! And just deal with the fact that I have been making bread for about 12 years and most of that time in the same house and now in a new house with a new stove 50 miles north of where we were at I have to learn all over again!

I didn't know you lived in MO? I'm originally from MO. I grew up in the Rolla area.

Jill, we lived in Ava, Missouri, but moved to Ohio almost 4 years ago. :) We have friends in Rolla! :D

dont know if anyone can help.. recently bought a new oven and have used it to bake bread. the outside looks fine but the inside is not as dark as usual and its quite wet. have tried increasing temp by 20degrees and time by 5 mins...still the same... any tips? thanks.

I've just experienced bread that didn't brown. I had wet the breads so sesame seeds would stick, and I think this and the steam from water in the cast iron pan lowered the temperature of the crust.

Next batch will be with higher oven temp. Less water.

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