The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

How to keep crust crisp/crackly?

venkitac's picture

How to keep crust crisp/crackly?

When I take my baked loaves out of the oven, the crust is crisp. (I even had a loaf sing - for the first time! - yesterday). But soon after, say in 1.5 to 2 hours, the crust becomes significantly less crisp, almost loses it completely. And sometimes the crust softens so much that it wrinkles etc. Is there a way to keep the crust crisp for longer? (I'm mostly baking batards, under a foil pan for 30% of the total bake time, and I spray water on the insides of the foil pan. I sometimes mist water on the surface of the loaf too, sometimes not).

wally's picture

Hi Venkitac- I'm having similar issues with my baguettes which I think may be related to increased humidity.  I'm in the DC area, and until the last couple weeks we've had fairly low humidity.  But it's gotten really humid lately, and my crusts are softening now sooner than they used to.

One other thing I know that could be contributing is if you're not going a full bake.  When I was at KAF Hamelman pointed out that underbaking will result in a crust that softens prematurely.  Sometimes all the difference is a couple minutes more in the oven.


MJO's picture

I'm not an expert, by any stretch, but crusty bread has been my goal for a while now.  Here is what I do with a WW sandwich loaf that is 50/50 ww and KA bread flour.  No oil at all. Dust with flour after the proof. Bake at 450 (with steam for first part of bake).  Leave in oven for a good 10 min. after I turn my oven off.  I then remove loaves from pans immediately and put them BACK in the oven to further dry out the crust for 5-10 minutes.  My loaves have a really nice crust now, and beautiful crumb with nice big holes.  I'm sure this all could be applied to other breads as well, if you're not already doing it (in which case, I'm sorry if I insulted your intelligence)    :)

venkitac's picture

It's fairly dry around here: 45% humidity, which I think is low. I haven't dried it out for 5-10 mins, I usually do barely 3 mins. So it seems like that's the first thing I need to try..will report back.

Matt H's picture
Matt H

I think the best way would be to make sure you get a really crisp, crackly crust to begin with. The secret seems to be a very moist baking environment. I heat the oven 25-50 degrees hotter than I need it, then a minute before baking, pour boiling water into a foil dish sitting right on the bottom of the oven, then slide the loaf onto the baking stone, and spritz the oven with warm water every 30-60 seconds for the first 3-5 minutes of baking. I've gotten some spectacular crusts this way...

salma's picture

Thank you, I need to dry my breads too in the oven to get the crispy crust.  I like to eat my breads warm.  When I am ready to eat (whether whole, half or quarter) I just run once under water and warm it at 350 or so for a few minutes and it crisps up.