The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Crusty bread turns soft

ash_bread's picture

Crusty bread turns soft

  • 110ml warm water
  • 200g strong white flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon quick yeast
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • pinch of sugar


I've been following a recipe as above but having problems with the crust. The behaviour's pretty consistent. The crust is ok in the oven but once it's out of the oven the crust on top softens. Underneath the bread tends to be cruncy.

Recently I've tried just starting with the water first,yeast, pinch of sugar and salt then adding flour gradually using a pastry scraper to need and stretch. It works fine but again I get a bread with a decent moist crumb but a soft crust on top.

The old recipe I used to use resulted in soft tops less often (used orange juice instead of the sugar and water)  but I was in a different house so could have been the oven.

Any ideas?


Kind regards,


RiverWalker's picture

what temp are you cooking at for about how long?  what sort of method are you using, I mean, is it in a pan, or on a cookie sheet, or a baking stone or what?

and(though I don't think it has to do with the crust) how long do you let it rise and proof?


while I am not an expert,

I do not think the orange juice in this changed how your crust comes out.

if you are in a humid environment, it may just be sucking up moitsure from the air, I think.

personally I have had breads that went from rock hard, and crispy crust, to once it cooled, being soft and, while crusty, not what I would call crisp.  

are you steaming the oven when you put the bread in to bake?  from what I've read, controlling the steam, and lack thereof, can be the main thing to manipulate crust texture.

I THINK what it sounds like you are going for, needs LOTS of steam in the first 5 minutes, and as little moisture in the oven as possible for the last 5 minutes.

but I could be wrong.

btw you could probably leave out that sugar entirely.

ash_bread's picture

about 220 degrees celsius on a baking sheet in a dry ovenfor 20mins (I had a heat shield fail and shatter so dare not try steam again ). I'm in a rented house and the oven is pretty poor with a definite uneven heat profile.

Maybe a 1-2hr initial rise then maybe a 45 min proving.

RiverWalker's picture

I can totally sympathize with that.


is there any chance you have a large roasting pan or something that could fit over the bread in the oven? 

the idea is to preheat the roasting pan with the oven (if its heavy, at least) and place it over the bread for the beginning part of the bake, to keep moisture from the bread, in the bread's airspace, without adding extra steam.   then aking it off for the later part of the bake.


I'd also try brushing the exposed surface(s) of the bread with water before baking.

Mason's picture

Reinhart's books suggest a very solid shallow pan in the oven on the rack below the baking sheet, preheated with the oven.  Then when you add the bread add a cup of boiling water to that pan (wear oven gloves to prevent steam burns).  Steam like this can do a lot for the crust.  

If you are worried about the glass door cracking fi water spills, cover that with a towel while pouring.

And in your oven, as you probably already do, turn the bread after about 15 minutes baking to bake evenly.

 I agree about the sugar.  The flour has enough natural sugars in it that you shouldn't need it.  

Furthermore, fermenting the dough overnight (up to 3 days) in the fridge before shaping and final rise (remove from the fridge about 2 hours before shaping) will also allow enzymes to bring out more of the natural sugars in the flour, which will vastly improve both the flavour and also the crust (crunchy and darker reddish caramel-brown).