Home Bread-Bakers v002.n013.1

Gooey centers, etc.

richard@pegasus.com (Richard Foulk)
Sat, 1 Jun 1991 09:01:00 GMT
We got a DAK machine for xmas.  It worked great for a few weeks, after

we got the hang of it.  We had to figure out the proper adjustments
to keep the bread from burning and things like that.

We found that we usually had to adjust the baking control knob to the
`lighter' side a bit.  After 15 loaves or more our machine started to
lose its mind and we had to send it back for replacement.

The new machine we received was adjusted differently and required darker
settings for the same recipes.

It is my guess that the gooey center problem reported by some is an
indication that they need to adjust their recipes or settings.  Perhaps
their machine has changed -- that doesn't necessarily mean it's
broken.  Denser breads are more critical than lighter breads, the line
between a gooey center and a burnt crust is fairly fine.  The DAK and
Welbilt machines don't seem to handle denser or sweeter breads very
well.  I suspect this is why the DAK recipe book doesn't contain any
recipes using the sweet-bread setting.  (Kaplan says it's because
they're not healthy, but I don't buy that.)

We've had gooey centers (under-done loaves) a few times, before we got
the hang of a recipe, mostly with dense loaves like banana bread.  We
were able to fix things by adjusting the baking control knob, the
amount of moisture and by adding gluten.  By watching carefully the
first few times near the end of baking, we were able to adjust
on-the-fly to salvage those too.

If it looks like the bake cycle is running too long you can slowly
adjust the baking control knob until the machine switches into cooling
mode.  (The machine seems to check the position of the knob only once
at the beginning of each minute.)  You then end up with an
approximation of the proper setting for next time.  

We have also put the machine's pan into the oven once or twice, at the
end of the bake cycle, to fix a loaf that hadn't cooked long enough --
that worked quite well.

It would be nice if there was a way to calibrate the machine for
temperature and timing.  (I wonder if there's a repair manual
available.)  Some knowledge of the proper settings would be helpful.
I've been meaning to hang a small oven thermometer in the machine to
check that variable, but haven't yet found one small enough.  Has
anyone else tried that?

Btw: our first machine lost its mind in the middle of bake-mode and
taught us that the "delayed baking while you're not home" feature was
too chancy.  Our machine's processor "crashed" after turning on the
heating element.  I was in the next room and smelled the bread burning,
at about half-way through the bake cycle.  I came into the kitchen to
see the machine lit up bright orange and the plastic frame around the
window starting to melt and sag.

I seems that there is no separate temperature limit switch provided,
just the microprocessor control.  If this is the case, this is a very
bad design.

We like our machine a lot, but we don't trust it to operate unattended.

We used the first machine a couple times after the melt-down, before we
sent it back for replacement (we found it hard to part with) and found
that the temperature control had shifted.  It ran a fair amount
hotter.  We were still able to get it to bake a good loaf of bread,
with some adjustment of the baking control knob.

One point I'd like to make is that there's nothing really magical or
difficult about how the bread-maker works.  If you get gooey centers
or have some other such problem you can probably fix it with a change
in your technique or recipe, or both.

For the machine, other than going through all the various steps in the
proper order and timing (which is easily checked), about the only
things you have left are temperature and temperature stability.
Considering the simplicity of the temperature control circuits that I'm
familiar with, I doubt that stability is the problem (unless your
machine tends to "lose its mind" like our first one did).

If your machine will produce a good medium-weight loaf then it seems
doubtful that there's anything wrong with it that's not generic to
the design.

Our weather and humidity here don't vary much, so I don't have a good
feel for how those variables might affect things, though the various
cookbooks seem to offer some guidance.

Time to go bake some bread ...

Richard Foulk		richard@pegasus.com