The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Developing a crusty crust with the distinct "ear".'s picture

Developing a crusty crust with the distinct "ear".

My daughter and I have been working with artisan breads for about 8 years and we still have not mastered the crusty crust and the "ear" that forms on the crust from slashing. What is the secret to consistantly making bread like this?

SnDBrian's picture

When slicing, do it firmly and at a angle rather than straight down. A high hydration dough usually will not develop ears (grigne) try lowering your hydration. For a crustier crust make sure you are steaming your dough long enough.'s picture

Thanks Brian,

  Your response is most helpful, Grace and I were discussing those points when you sent your note. This is our next step! She is worried about her crumb when she backs off on hydration. It is all a gentle balancing act and we do so appreciate your input.


LindyD's picture

First, welcome to TFL tdglueck.

While the angle of the score is important, there's much more to it than that.  

I think you may find this tutorial by David Snyder helpful.'s picture


Thanks for the welcome! I do feel well received by all of you. I have never entered my questions on a website before, this is most helpful. This tutorial is a big help. Thank you again,


PeterPiper's picture

Check out this thread:  on covering and steaming.  I found that coveing was the final piece of the puzzle to get well-formed ears, something I've been trying to get for a while.  The other pieces:  surface tension on the dough, not-too-hydrated doughs, high enough oven temps, and proper scoring technique.

-Peter's picture


Thanks for your recommendation, we will most certainly give it a try. I read about this on Peter Reinhart's blog. Do you spray water on your loaf before you send it to the oven?


PeterPiper's picture

Now that I'm just covering the bread, I don't spray it with water at all and it turns out fine.  Good luck!


vincenttalleu's picture

Autolyse is also responsible for better grignes, you can try hydrating your flour 1hour before final mixing.

Late salt method (adding salt 4mn before end of mixing) also helps but more complicated without a mixer, and some people don't like this because it tends to over oxidize the dough while mixing. (whiter bread)