The Fresh Loaf

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How do I get a softer crust?

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DavidEF's picture

How do I get a softer crust?

I am trying to bake a soft sandwich loaf from sourdough, using this recipe: but I don't have any powdered milk, so I leave that out. Also, I usually am scaling the recipe to make more than it calls for, and using a slightly higher hydration. The recipe makes about a 64% hydration dough, and I usually keep mine at about 70% hydration (counting only the flour and water, because I don't know how to calculate the other ingredients for hydration). It almost always turns out wonderful bread, but the crust is thick, and when I store it, it turns tough. I was wondering if there is a way to get a lighter (as in thinner) crust on my bread, or at least a crust that is not tough. Is that little bit of milk powder the magic ingredient that does that? I know I've read that milk does make the bread softer, because it inhibits some of the gluten formation. Help me out here, please! Susan, if you happen to be around, tell me what I'm doing wrong with your recipe!

One thing I have already tried is baking at a lower temp for a longer time. I've also tried baking with and without steam.

Ford's picture

To get a soft crust, brush the dough, just after shaping, with melted butter, and, after it has risen, spray with water before putting it in the oven.  Use steam in the oven, (a pan of boiling water under the baking shelf).  Whe the loaf is baked, brush the crust with melted butter an cover with plastic wrap as it cools.  When coo,l package it in a plastic bag.

If you add butter to the recipe and use milk instead of water, the crumb will also be wonderfully soft.  If you wish, I'll send you my recipe.


Milanns's picture

Hi Ford --

I know this is an old thread, but I'm going to make an attempt at reaching out!

I too am looking for a softer, sandwich like crust.  My son is getting braces tomorrow and he won't be able to eat my super crusty attempts at sourdough bread.  I work full time and don't get to do a lot of experimenting.  A recipe to follow would be fantastic! Is it possible for me to get a copy of your recipe as well?

Thanks so much!



DavidEF's picture

Thanks, Ford. I'll take you up on that offer to send me your recipe. I love a crispy crust on bread, but for sandwiches, I want a softer crust. My crumb is plenty soft and has a "cool" texture. Just the crust is thick and crunchy when I bake it, and it turns tough when stored. One thing I haven't tried that might do the trick, is covering for the first part of the bake. I don't have anything to cover with, but I guess I could make an aluminum foil tent or something. Would that help at all?

mini_maggie's picture

will soften it considerably.  Try just substituting milk for the water and see what you get before you complicate the rest of the process too much.  I like keeping things simple!

Sorry, posted  this in the wrong place - meant to reply to the OP, not meant to dispute Ford's advice!!

Ford's picture

It's in the mail.  Check your messages, this site.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

(fruit allowed to ferment in water until effervescent) will also give you the same qualities as a milk bread.  Look up: Yeast water

Potato water in the recipe (cut up small potato, boil and mash with the cooking water & use as liquids)  will also soften crusts while cooling from the oven.  Draping the racked loaf with a thin cloth may also help being careful not to let the water condense on the crust.

Could also cool, slice and freeze the bread to thaw out later keeping crusts moist not giving them a chance to dry out and get tough.

dabrownman's picture

besides the info above, i just brush the baked bread with milk as it comes out of the oven.  That is usually all it takes.  You can also scald milk or use dry milk powder in bread so it won't affect any of the enzymes or yeast during fermentation or gluten development.

happy baking.

MisterTT's picture

In my experience, adding even a small amount of potato (leftover mashed potatoes from dinner work fine) softens both the crust and crumb considerably.