The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Thin vs. thick crust

  • Pin It
robadar's picture
robadar

Thin vs. thick crust

I have made many artisan loaves, sourdough and bread made with with pre-ferments,  baked them on a stone in an oven with steam.  My loaves always have a thick crunchy crust, which is great most of the time.   But How do I get a thin, crisp, crackling crust, such as one would find in a tender baguette with creamy crumb and delicate, crisp crust?  What's the secret variable? 


 


RB

Lucifer's picture
Lucifer

I noticed that addition of diastatic malt makes a thinner crust with no other changes to the process or the recipe. This is purely an observation. Not every mix benefits. Sometimes malt wrecks it big time, e.g. with rye.


See my question on crustless bread


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/20789/crustless-bread

Chuck's picture
Chuck

In my experience there's not really any secret variable that's different from artisan loaves. It's more imortant to get everything just right though: oven temperature a little higher or a little lower, baking time a little longer or a little shorter, a little more steam or a little less, dough a little wetter or a little dryer,...


The narrow shape (more crust surface, less crumb area) does seem to make a bit of difference.:-)


(What helped my baguettes the most was using a real piece of "couche" cloth (from SFBI/TMB in my case) the traditional way, rather than inventing elaborate kludges, many of which didn't use cloth at all. Something I've heard about, but not yet tried myself, is using a piece of very thick, very smooth cloth [spcifically a restaurant "napkin" from a restaurant supply store] rather than the traditional linen.)

rayel's picture
rayel

I had the unexpected result of a thin and delicate crust, which was also tender and crisp at the same time, by covering my ciabatta loaf with a wok cover for 10 or 12 minutes. Ray

Chuck's picture
Chuck

Quote:
I had the unexpected result of a thin and delicate crust, which was also tender and crisp at the same time, by covering my ciabatta loaf with a wok cover for 10 or 12 minutes.

This is an example of the whole family of steaming methods where you steam "just the bread" rather than the "whole oven". The cover can be an upside down bowl, the top of a roasting pan, an inverted foil roasting pan from the market, etc. There's no need for a truly tight seal; a "flat" cover against a "flat" baking stone at the same elevation as the bottom crust is plenty good enough. The method is often referred to here on TFL as "magic bowl".


The cover can be on anywhere from just the first 10 minutes (i.e. about the same length of time as optimal whole oven steaming) up to the whole first half of the baking. Reference the "no-knead" baking instructions - it seems this is what's going on.


Although it can use some "extra" moisture (often supplied by misting the inside of the cover just before putting it on), it often works with nothing more than the moisture that's coming out of the baking loaves anyway.


Reports are that these "covering" methods work at least as well (usually even better:-) as the more traditional whole oven steaming methods. Besides, if you're afraid of roasting the electronic controls on your oven, it's the only reasonable alternative available to you.


You may wish to kludge some sort of easy-to-hold handle, and maybe even an instrument for grasping it (a weenie fork?-), as a very large very hot object that's "stuck" over your baking loaf can be awkward to handle, and some of the most basic methods (for example pick up the edge of the bowl with your hand) can lead to steam burns if not done carefully.

robadar's picture
robadar

Ray,


I assume you covered your loaf for the first 10-12 minutes then uncovered it (?).  Did  you use any steam in the oven before or after placement of the wok?  Use a stone?


 


RB

Matt H's picture
Matt H

In my experience, baking smaller loaves, using white flour with some fat in the recipe, NOT doing an overnight proof in the fridge, and making sure not to spray directly onto the loaf.


Since I make mostly whole-grain boules, I'm familiar with the think crust you're talking about.