The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

How do I get a shiny bubbly outer crust?

GregS's picture

How do I get a shiny bubbly outer crust?

I'm reasonably happy with the interiors of my recent sourdough boules, but the exteriors are depressing. They are brown to dark brown, flat, dull and smooth. No golden glow, no little bubbles under the surface. Looking at the photos on TFL makes me afraid to even photograph mine! What variables contribute to an attractive crust on a white flour, French-type boule, batard or baguette?

Thanks, as always


bnom's picture

I believe the variable that leads to little bubbles under the crust is long cool fermentation -- easily achieved by retarding the dough overnight in the fridge.  But it would be easier to give you tips if you posted photos and your formula/procedure. Don't be shy!

MadAboutB8's picture

Would steaming and high heat help with the shiny brown crust? It did on my loaves.


csimmo64's picture

Yeah, definitely start the oven around 450-500 degrees with a huge burst of steam. If you can't figure out how to steam your home oven, wash the top of the bread with either an egg wash, water wash, starch wash, or something. Each wash has its own properties and is better suited for certain breads. Placing a loaf in a dry oven with no wash makes a dull lackluster crust. The reasoning behind it: moisture on the outside with the high heat generates a lot of enzymatic activity that promotes crust color and shine. Good luck :]

jrudnik's picture

I haven't tried to get the shine with egg wash, but whenever I retard a sourdough overnight I get bubbles on the crust.

longhorn's picture

Chad Robertson is getting fabulous blisters on his Tartine loaves and he doesn't retard or go particularly cool (65F).  Only 6-8 hours from mixing dough to baking.

I started working on his bread recipe yesterday and I didn't get the blistery bubbles. Yet! He also bakes really hot which may be a factor.

Need more experimentation!