The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Greetings! New baker alert!

Shutzie27's picture

Greetings! New baker alert!

Hello Everyone!

I'm so glad to have found this site. I'm from Las Vegas, NV and recently moved to Phoenix, Arizona to attend law school, but was bitten by the bread baking bug last winter (though I made my own pizza dough before that) and it's become something of a congenial obsession perpetually lurking in the background of my life ever since. I look forward to exchanging recipies and ideas, although being an amateur I don't know that I'd have a lot to offer some of the more experienced bakers on this site.

Right now, I'm struggling with artisan bread crusts. They come out of the oven fine but always go soft. I've tried brushing them with ice water, I've tried water in a pan in the over with them, boiling water in a pan in the over with them, both of the former while spritzing the bread....does anyone have any other ideas? My fiancee thinks it might be the Arizona monsson/humidity, but I suspect there's a better reason for it having to do with something I am (or am not) doing. The bread is still tasty delish, just not crunchy. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

pmccool's picture

A "congenial obsession"?  I just might have to steal that phrase!

Welcome to The Fresh Loaf, where you will find enablers galore.  And where you, too, will be contributing before you know it.

The softening crust story is a familiar tale of woe.  Suggestions to counter it include allowing your bread to sit in the oven with the door propped open a bit for 10 minutes or so, after turning off the oven at the end of the bake.  It helps dry the crust somewhat.  After fully cooling the bread, you can also leave it unwrapped, or store it in a paper bag.  A plastic bag will trap the moisture that migrates out from the crumb of the loaf, softening the crust.  There are probably other strategies to help, as you will find in your reading here.  

Do make use of the search box at the upper left-hand side of the page.  With 5+ years of material on hand, that can help you find topics of interest to you much more quickly.  Of course, if you are at all like me, it will also give you access to all kinds of interesting side tracks, too.

Enjoy and make yourself at home.


Shutzie27's picture

Thank you for the excellent tips, Paul! I consider myself duly welcomed. :-)

Also, I baked a country loaf yesterday for my family who is visiting (we're doing a brunch this morning and I made hard rolls for them, too--here's hoping they're still hard!) and tried the oven-propped-open method you mentioned. It seemed to work but then, alas, after leaving the bread on the counter uncovered again it became soft after cooling. The crust still crackles when you press it, though, so I must be getting somewhere. I am determined to make a good, crusty bread--slightly ironic because I prefer soft breads.

For now, I'm just hoping it's still tasty delish and my family enjoys it.

Again, thank you for the welcome. I can tell this site is going to become as addictive as Facebook for me.

vegasjeremy's picture

.... and a vegas baker? I thought I was the only one!...well its good to see you posting. looking forward to hearing wisdom from a fellow desert baker....

I'm pretty new to breads so here's a question I've been wondering about...while baking in vegas,do you find that you have to use a lot more water than just about any recipe calls for?... i mean a lot, like a 1/4 to 1/2 of a liter on a 600g flour recipe....


Shutzie27's picture

And here I thought we natives were virtually extinct and getting replaced with transplants who think they're natives after living in town for a whole two years!

I'm fairly new to breads myself, so I can't give you any expert answers about the water, but I can tell you about my experiences. I do tend to use a little more water when I bake in Vegas (I just moved to Phoenix last month; here there's much more humidity it seems).

I don't think anywhere near a quarter of a liter, however. It's hard for me to say because I add water by soaking my hands until they're dripping wet and kneading with wet hands. I'm always terrified I'll add too much water and that seems to be a good way to moisten the dough gradually. For a 12-inch loaf, I generally need to do this one to three times.

Sorry that I can't be more helpful. I'm sure if you search the site, however, you'll find more than enough information about it. I'm absolutely boggled at how much information this site contains!