The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Crust problems with PR whole grain enriched breads

edastrup's picture
edastrup

Crust problems with PR whole grain enriched breads

I bake my bread in cast iron loaf pans. I love how the bread (using PR WGB recipes) tastes but my crust is always heavy, thick, and not so good. I want the convenience of baking in loaf pans, but I would like a softer, thinner, crust. What am I doing wrong? What can I do to improve the crust?

janij's picture
janij

The cast iron gets really hot and is going to add to your crust.  I would try a lighter weight pan.  Like a regualr loaf pan.  Also, what temp are you cooking at?  375 is about average for loaf pans.

edastrup's picture
edastrup

I usually put the oven at 425, and then reduce to 350 after I put the bread in. Should I reduce the temperature?

edastrup's picture
edastrup

I really like my cast iron pans, because they are nonstick without some kind of chemical coating that eventually seems to flake off and get in the food. So, I just baked PR's Many Seeded Bread, but I reduced the temperature. I baked at 300 degrees until the thermomemter registered 200 degrees in the center of the bread. The crust is lighter colored and softer, and the inside is a bit moister, too. I'm sure it's just a preference thing, but I prefered the softer,  moister result from baking at the lower temperature.


I am sure the cast iron pans are not ideal, because it is still pretty crusty on the sides, but that helps to keep the bread together when slicing and the top crust is now thinner and softer, so I think I'm happy enough with the result. Eventually I want to try hearth baking but I bake for a large family and I don't know how I would do three loaves at a time on my pizza stone.


Thanks for the tips!

Farmer Brown's picture
Farmer Brown

Along with using a thinner pan, I would take a look at your proofing conditions as well. You may want to try increasing the humidity level at this stage. 

shakleford's picture
shakleford

Two other things that give me a noticeably thinner crust for Reinhart's enriched breads are cooking with steam and/or using a baking stone. My understanding is that both of these basically accomplish the same thing - increasing heat transfer in the first few minutes of cooking. Your cast iron pan is taking things in the opposite direction since it has a relatively high mass and takes a long time to heat up.