O.K. In the last couple of days I did some “scientific” experiments on browning and proofing. (I need to ge a life, don’t I?)
Made a small batch of simple white bread dough and divided it into .45 lb lots, formed into ½ in. thick x 2 ½ in diameter bun shapes.
1 rose to 1-1/2 volume and baked at 500 F for 19 minutes, no coating
1 rose similarly, punched down, reformed and rose again as above, and baked as above, with whole egg wash coating.
1 allowed to rise to its maximum, punched down, again rose to max, brushed with milk (1/2 & ½) and baked as above.
Results: Crusty buns. Almost no difference in color. And the first one had the best size and texture, although none were what I would consider to be light and airy.
Then I made a French Sourdough baguette using by usual 3 day sourdough (1 c bread flour, 1 c water, 1 tsp salt, 1 pkg instant yeast). Added 2 c bread flour and put outside in sunlight to rise. 20 minutes and it had more than doubled. Punched down and formed baguette, again put outside in sunlight to rise. 20 minutes and into the cold oven set for 400 F for 28 minutes.
Result: near perfect French sourdough baguette.
Then tested egg, milk, butter, and sugar smeared on a sheet of paper and baked. Butter did not brown. The other 3 browned similarly – almost no difference in color. Conclusion: Time and temp control browning more than what type of coating is used.
I’m baffled by the results of the buns. Did not expect the single rise to come out the best.
I got into the habit of proofing my dough in the warm sunlight because the house is kept at about 75 F all the time, and the dough rose too slowly – took an hour to an hour and a half.. Tried a warm oven, and that sped it up some, but a bit of a nuisance heating the oven to the right temp. When summer came, I figured the warm air (mid 80’s) would work better, and it seemed to, But yesterday was sunny but cool – low 70’s. And still the dough rose very fast!
So I conclude it is not the warmth of the air,m but the direct solar radiation that makes the difference. Which seems not too surprising: Direct solar infra-red (heat) is a shorter wave-length than reflected infra-red, so it penetrates much deeper into the dough. Also, “wild” yeast (being a plant) normally grows on the surface of fruits and berries, etc., in sunlight, receiving both solar infra-red and ultra-violet. So apparently yeast is “happier” in direct sunlight.
Or maybe I’m jst nuts. :D