When we talk with people with a loaf-center that won’t bake through, it’s almost always one of these explanations:
- The oven temperature is off: Usually it’s running too hot, and the outside looks brown before the center is baked through. But a low oven temperature can fool you too– you think you’ve baked long enough, but it’s actually running 50 degrees too cool. Home ovens can be off by 50 to 75 degrees F, so check with an inexpensive oven thermometer like this one on Amazon.
- Inadequate oven and stone pre-heat: This can be an issue for really large ovens and thick baking stones. Some professional-style ovens (Wolf and Viking, for example) may need up to an hour of pre-heating. If you are using a thick baking stone, it may also need up to an hour of pre-heat. Even thin stones will benefit from a longer preheat.
- Measuring flour incorrectly: The most common mistake is that someone isn’t measuring the way we describe in our books. We use the standard scoop-and-sweep method. See our video on this for proper technique. Do not spoon the flour into the measuring cup before sweeping– if you do, the cup will be too-lightly filled, and the dough will be too wet, leaving you with a center that won’t bake through. Consider weighing flour if you want to get away from the uncertainty of volume measurement, see the post…
If you’re really struggling with underbaking, you can try an instant-read thermometer. For lean breads (no eggs), the temperature at the center of the loaf should be 205 to 210 degrees F (96 to 99 degrees Celsius). For egg-enriched doughs, the temperature should be about 185 degrees F (85 degrees Celsius).
One other thing– thanks for a great review of Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day on Mary Hunt’s EverydayCheapskate.com, click to view.
More in The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, and our other books.