The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Trying to get a soft crust

janetlgreen0218's picture

Trying to get a soft crust

Okay, bear with me here, I'm new to the forum.

I love to bake just about anything, teaching myself the art of bread baking.

I have family from Jamaica and we have a bread that we call hard dough.

It's a dense bread (more dense than banana bread in some ways), but it has a soft crust, almost like what you would see on the loaf of mushy grocery store sandwich loaves.

I tried my hand yesterday, it turned out better than expected except for the crust.

I will include the recipe below.

One of the things that surprised me was that the baking time was rather short, only 30 minutes.

Since I'm still perfecting my bread skills I usually sacrifice at least one loaf by inserting a thermometer.

According to the recipe, at 30 minutes it was only at 120 degrees, unless my thermometer died.

I gave it another 5 minutes, but there wasn't much change.

I figured that since it was a reasonably small recipe, I would take it out at the time instructed and see what happens.

  • 3 tablespoons white sugar

  • 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast

  • 3/4 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

  • 1 tablespoon margarine, melted

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

I pulled the recipe from at the following link. The photo is fairly reasonable in terms of what I was shooting for:

xaipete's picture

I think there is probably something wrong with your thermometer.

I googled Jamaican Hard Dough and came up with a number of recipes. Many of them contained eggs, which might help you achieve a softer crust.


flournwater's picture

"at 30 minutes it was only at 120 degrees"

I don't see anything in the recipe link that makes reference to an internal temperature for the finished loaf.  Inasmuch as most of the bread I've ever baked is ready to come out of the oven well before 120 degrees F, I'm wondering why this bread  needs to finish at somewhere about 120 degrees.  Makes me wonder if your loaf wasn't overbaked.

janetlgreen0218's picture

I admit, that I have "googled" the temperature at which bread is done, in an attempt to get past not "knocking" for a hollow sound correctly and pulling the loaf out before the center is done. More than one article claimed that bread is not done until 205 - 210.

Very possible that I should just follow the recipe the first time and make adjustments later rather than on the first attempt.

As for the egg wash, I use this for Challah to achieve a shiny slightly crisp crust. However Hard Dough does not have a shiny crust (normally), it's closer to a "wonder bread" crust meaning it is thin, medium brown, but not crisp at all.

Are there different ways or periods of time to apply the wash? Meaning do I apply when the loaf is shaped? or just before placing in the oven? Still seems like I will end up with a shine (forgive me for being stubborn).

yozzause's picture

hi janet
i find that if i want a soft crust then i use a flat tray in the bottom of the oven with boiling water in it,
this does 2 things firstly it shields the dough piece from the intense heat of the oven allowing better oven spring, water turns to steam at 212 deg f.secondly if the steamy environment continues for the greater part of the baking procces then the crust is not going to develop as thick or as hard as if then environment were dryier and hotter.
If you control the ammount of water you put in that tray so that it has all evaporated after 5 - 10 minutes you can achieve a thinner crisper crust.
I use a pizza tray as it gives big surface area, put the pizza tray in when you first fire up the oven and add boiling water sttraight from the kettle just before you are ready to bake. a reason why sanwhich bread loaves are usually soft and squiggy is they are baked with lids on the tins which traps the steam being given of by the baking loaves.
If you leave the fan off if you have a fan forced oven also helps.
A loaf of bread is considered baked when the centre of the loaf reaches boiling point 212 deg f or 100 deg c. the time it takes to get there is dependant on the oven temperature and the density of the loaf. yozza

xaipete's picture

I just made a bread that had dried milk and an egg in it. The crust was very soft. I'm pretty sure that eggs help the crust to be soft.


janetlgreen0218's picture

Ah, must use boiling water. I did put a tray of water in, but it was tap time I will try boiling. As for the egg, I thought the previous poster meant as an external wash...


Thanks for the tips... I'll keep trying.

xaipete's picture

Sorry if I wasn't clear. Put the egg in the dough.


janetlgreen0218's picture

You were clear, I meant one of the earlier posters.




I love making egg bread and will see how this changes the crust.

TheIrishBaker's picture

I had previously added Oil and used the "tea towel" trick but last night tried adding an egg - it made a big difference for me, much softer but the resulting bread (Irish Soda bread in my case) was a bit crumbly but nonetheless delicious.