Baking Perfect Breads, Cookies and Desserts
We're all looking for that perfect pie, or cookies, or loaf of bread. It doesn't always happen. In our experience, there are four reasons that account for most of the less than perfect products.
Under baking or over baking. This has to be nemesis number one. Breads are often under-baked and cookies are often over-baked. Under baked bread is soggy. Crusty breads will never be crusty if the temperature doesn't get high enough to drive the moisture from the dough. Over baked cookies are dry and hard. Try baking cookies until they just start to brown and see if you don't like them better.
Most soft breads should reach an internal temperature of 190 degrees and most crusty breads should reach a temperature of 200 to 210 degrees. A thermometer is the bread baker's best friend.
To reach internal temperatures such as these, crusts will often be a darker brown than what you often picture in the perfect bread. If you would like a golden crust on your bread instead of a rich brown crust, try draping the loaf with aluminum foil for the last six or eight minutes of baking. The aluminum foil deflects the heat and will protect the crust from becoming too dark.