The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Thick and golden crust with a classic Ciabatta bread?

elcouisto's picture

Thick and golden crust with a classic Ciabatta bread?

I'm trying to achieve a thick and golden crust with the classic Ciabatta recipe (Jason's Quick Coccodrillo Ciabatta Bread).

For some reason it's not working. I get the big bubbles and the bread is really good, but the crust is thin and while is does gain some color, it's never a beautiful golden color.

What are the steps that bring this thick and golden crust?

Thank you!

flournwater's picture

If  you spray the loaf with water or brush it with oil before loading it into the oven, try not doing that.

Try reducing the heat and baking it longer.  At midpoint in the bake, turn it 180 degrees.  When it's done, allow it to rest on an oven rack with the oven turned off and the oven door ajar until the oven is just about cool.

elcouisto's picture

I'm not brushing it with oil and not spraying water on it.. I'm baking the loaves at 450 degree... I'll try baking it at 400, but lower than that seems inappropriate for a ciabatta. Am I wrong? And somehow I don't think it's going to make a huge difference. I'll see this weekend.

That link has really nice golden loaves (at the bottom). They say I need lots of steam, but the recipe for this bread is rather rich. I'm not certain if steam alone will create the really thick and golden crust...

More ideas?


flournwater's picture

In my experience, steam produces a soft tender crust, not a crisp crust.  I haven't tried the steam technique described in the link you listed in conjunction with a slow cool down on a rack (as previously described) but that might work.  I'm certain that the steam overload during the last periods of baking would only serve to soften the outer crust.  But hey, I could be wrong.  It wouldn't be the first time.

Make up enough dough for two loaves and try it both ways.  Let us know what you discover.

scottsourdough's picture

A lighter crust, provided you're baking for the right amount of time at the right temperautre, means you're not getting enough carmelization. This means that there isn't enough developed sugar in the dough. You could try letting the fermentation go longer, or adding some diastatic malt powder to the dough. This can be very helpful for getting a golden crust.

I'm a little confused about whether you steam your oven or not. For ciabatta you definitely want to generate a lot of steam at the beginning of the bake.

Aussie Pete's picture
Aussie Pete

Hi Elcouisto,

I too had problems with getting a brown crust but was textured like a good Ciabatta.

I also use Jason's Quick Coccodrillo Ciabatta recipe but have had no success with steaming to get the right coloured crust.

I have written about it before and I know it is not technically correct but about two thirds through cooking your loaf use a pastry brush and brush it with some milk. The sugars in the milk are not absorbed and they caramalise on the surface of the loaf.

For a thicker crunchier crust brush the shaped dough just prior to placing in a hot oven giving the caramalising process longer to work. It will be a darker coloured crust as well.

I know it's cheating but we have a very old oven which does not help much so this is why I use milk to obtain a golden brown colour.

So if steaming is not working and  if all else fails ????????