The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

crispy crunchy crust

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MapMaker's picture
MapMaker

crispy crunchy crust

I started baking bread upon returning from a trip to Paris 4-5 years ago.  Like many of you out there I was/am chasing the holy grail of the perfect baguette.  But as I think about it now I wonder if my rememberance of the gold standard is real or imagined. 


I remember picking up a baguette at the neighborhood boulangerie, along with a few other tasty treats, and going to a park and breaking off chunks of bread, crisp shards of crust flying off to feed the local wildlife.  While my bread comes out of the oven crisp, with an internal temp of 205+, and I can hear the bread cracking as it cools, but when it's ready to eat the crispness is gone.  I can reheat the bread to crisp it up, but I feel like I shouldn't have to do that. 


Is the problem my memory or is it my technique?  Please help.


Thanks in advance for your counsel.


 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, MapMaker.


I don't think there is anything wrong with your memory of good baguette crust. This type of crust is challenging to achieve for the home baker. I've worked on it for a long time and only occasionally come close.


What I have learned is the variables that seem important. FWIW, here are my current ideas:


1. Lower gluten flours make thinner, crispy crust, everything else being equal.


2. A crispy, thin crust is easier to achieve with a lower hydration dough,  everything else being equal.


3. Good steaming earlier in the bake and a very dry oven later in the bake, helps achieve a crisp crust that stays crisp longer.


4. Letting the baguettes remain in the oven with the heat off and the door ajar for 5-10 minutes after they are fully baked helps dry the crust.


Hope this helps.


David