You sit there salivating as you watch the oven bake your bread. The outside of the loaf is a gorgeous, Instagram-worthy golden brown, so you turn your oven off, take out your bread, and let it cool. When the moment of truth arrives, aka you cutting into it, you’re so disappointed to find out the bread is undercooked. What happened?
Your bread could be undercooked or unbaked inside for the following reasons:
- Your oven was too hot, so the outside of the bread cooked faster than the inside
- You pulled your bread out of the oven too early
- You didn’t let your dough reach room temperature before baking it
- You didn’t check your bread’s ideal internal temperature
If you’re still not sure what could have caused your undercooked bread woes, keep reading. In this article, I will elaborate on the above 4 common issues bread bakers make when trying to achieve the perfect loaf. I will also discuss ways to fix them.
Let’s get started!
4 Reasons Your Bread Is Undercooked Inside (and How to Fix It!)
Your Oven Is Too Hot, Causing the Outside of the Bread to Get Dark, but Not the Inside
More than likely, you’re having this problem with more than just your bread. Any baked good that goes in the oven comes out the same way: the outside is cooked, but the inside comes out raw or undercooked. You’ve even let your bread sit for a few minutes longer in the oven thinking that would help, but then you end up with a burnt loaf that’s still undercooked inside.
The type of bread that is rich in fats or sugars are usually the ones you find to be undercooked while the outside can be burnt. This is because of those sugars. They caramelize faster and your bread catches color quicker and can burn faster.
This is where you got to first make sure your oven is actually the temperature your thermometer is set at. Most ovens, especially older ones tend to be off. I had a new oven that was off by 15 degrees Celcius. This was a brand new oven!
The best way to verify your oven temperature is true is to use an oven temperature gauge/thermometer ( see image below ). These are super useful. It will help you calibrate your oven. Or at least you will know how much your oven knob reading or digital display is off by and set it to the ideal temperature.
Make sure to move the thermometer around in your oven to detect any hot spots as well, as these can also be a major factor for the reason your bread is burning too fast.
Most of these richer type breads ideal baking temperature is anywhere between 350 to 375 Fernhiet or 175 to 190 Celcius.
If the temperature creeps up closer to 400 Fernhiet or 204 Celcius, then that’s why you’re ending up with scorched bread that’s practically raw within.
You Don’t Leave Your Bread in the Oven Long Enough
Let’s say you’re making a standard, basic loaf of bread. You’re not using a ton of complex ingredients here, only bread flour, water, table salt, instant yeast, and sugar. A loaf like that takes between 20 and 25 minutes to bake fully, give or take.
Yet if you determine that your bread is done cooking at 15 minutes because it’s getting dark, you might yank it out of the oven early. Sure, the bread looks done on the outside, but when you cut it open, you don’t get the light, airy, chewy bread you had envisioned. Instead, it’s undercooked and still a touch raw.
Whether you’re baking your standard white bread or a more complicated sourdough, trust in your recipe. If the recipe says to bake the bread for 30 minutes, then don’t take the loaf out after 19 minutes, because it’s probably not finished.
That said, you know your oven best. If your oven has a propensity to burn food that stays in too long, then you might shorten the cooking time by two or three minutes. Don’t chop 10 or 15 minutes off the recipe, though.
Oh, and one more word of caution. As hard as it is, refrain from opening the oven to peek in on your bread every five minutes. Each time you do that, you let out some of the hot air and introduce room temperature air. That can affect the oven’s internal temperature, which can result in undercooked bread.
Watch your bread through your oven’s glass pane, and turn on the oven light for a more detailed view. Just leave the oven door closed.
The Dough Isn’t Room Temperature When You Bake It
Breads that are left overnight to age or ferment in the fridge must be given the proper ammount of time to proof and have an internal temperature that is even throught the dough.
Your bread warms up from the outside in. This is because the internal parts of the bread do not have any contact with air that is warmer therefore your bread will always be cooler on the inside than on the outside until it hs had enough time to level out.
If not you will find your bread under baked or even raw inside.
This is also common when you freeze bread and thaw it out. ( by the way, freezing bread is a whole other topic. We actually have an article fully dedicated to it right here )
If you’ve decided today that you’d like to bake the frozen dough, you may have transferred the bag of dough from the freezer to the fridge or even straight from your freezer to the kitchen counter.
The dough might seem pliable enough if it’s mostly thawed, but baking cold dough is not ideal. It takes longer for the bread dough to sufficiently rise for baking, at least four hours in the fridge compared to 45 to 120 minutes for room temperature dough. Also, since the dough is colder to start, it may need a few minutes longer in the oven, which you wouldn’t give it not knowing that.
There are exceptions to this rule. If you’re working with flatbread dough, such as pizza dough or naan dough, then you can take these doughs from the fridge to the oven without any problem.
Some bread doughs even benefit from spending time in the fridge, such as if you have to retard the dough. With this, you put your dough in the fridge, let it sit there overnight, and then bake the bread. Since the dough rises more slowly in the colder environment, you may get a greater depth of flavor with some types of bread, such as leavened bread.
The Bread Isn’t Being Baked at Its Ideal Internal Temperature
Bread has an ideal or optimal internal temperature, which is the temperature the bread must reach for it to be considered done baking.
To test the internal temperature, you need a bread thermometer, which has a pen-like appendage on one end. You insert that metal appendage into your bread to get its internal temperature reading.
Depending on the type bread you’re baking, that internal temperature will read differently. For basic white breads, you’re aiming for 190 degrees as an ideal internal temperature, whereas with sourdough, it’s more like 208 degrees. Whole grain bread, especially the hearty rounds, might have an internal temperature that’s slightly higher, up to 210 degrees.
Using a bread thermometer to gauge the internal temperature is a much more professional way of knowing whether your bread is done than judging it by its external appearance. It’s also more accurate than tapping the bottom of the bread, which some bakers still do. If you hear a hollow sound, then it’s supposed to be done. Still, we’d suggest the thermometer every time or at least until you really get to know your bread.
Knowing your oven temperature, your bread internal temperature, and your dough temperature is always important. Make sure these are all correct and you will solve your underbaked bread problems.
May the bread gods smile upon you 🙂