The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Crust is way too hard and crusty...

elcouisto's picture

Crust is way too hard and crusty...

So I've made this Ciabatta bread from Peter Reinhart's The Break Baker's Apprentice and it turned out great. The crust has a nice color and the crumb came out with big bubbles at 210 degree. It was baked on a pizza stone with steam.

My problem is the crust is really hard and too crusty once it has cooled off. If I leave the bread on the counter for a couple of hours the crust is too hard and one just can't enjoy eating this bread (unless you enjoy hurting your gum).

I read in the 'Bread' book that the "nice thing" about Ciabatta is its hard and crusty crust... I'm confused.

wally's picture

Not sure I can diagnose the problem: generally ciabatta has a thin and crackly/crunchy crust, nothing that's going to lead to bleeding gums.

However, one solution would be to wrap the loaf in a tea towel once it has cooled.  That should give you a softer crust.

Of course, you do realize that ciabatta, like baguette, has a short life span, and so both crust and crumb will end up turning into an approximation of a crouton after many hours.


nicolesue's picture


I understand what you mean - humidity plays a factor, in the tropics, ciabatta crust often becomes hard and 'chewable' after about 1 hr or so. This is what I do, slice when they've completely cooled down, store it in a zip lock bag and place it in the freezer. When you want to eat, take out the number of slices you wish to, and toast them in a small toaster for about 1 - 1.30 minutes only. Do not toast any longer unless you want super-super crunchy bread. If the time recommended is not sufficient, leave it in the toaster without heat for a while more to de-frost. The ciabatta will taste as good as new. Hope this helps!



BakerBen's picture

I am no expert but 210F internal seems a bit high - possibly your oven bakes a bit hot and the Ciabate is loosing too much moisture in the bake.  You may want to play with lowering the oven temp 10-15 degrees and/or little shorter baking time - I believe an internal bread temp of around 200F would be good to shoot for.And, Larry makes a good point - ciabata is only really good for a day maybe two for eating plain or as a sandwich bread.


reyesron's picture

I agree with Ben.  Even being a little bit lower than 200 would be ok.  210 is in fact too high.   

elcouisto's picture

Thanks everyone, I'm guessing the problem is me leaving the bread on the counter for a bit too long. I'll try to wrap it around a towel in order to keep it moistured enough.

Just a note, I meant 205 degree instead of 210 (typo). And from both 'The Bread Baker's Apprentice' and 'Bread', 205 is the desired temperature. Also, from experience, baking it to lower than that almost always results in undercooked (gummy) crumb.

longhorn's picture

Be sure to calibrate your thermometer if you can. It could be off by enough to cause problems.

Also...what hydration did you use. I make ciabatta from 72% up to about 85 percent. Wetter should give you more residual water and a softer crust. But something more seems wrong...


elcouisto's picture

I noticed that bakeries store their hard crust breads in bags right as they come out of the oven, keeping the moisture inside and resulting in a nice crust, not too hard.