The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Beginner Question -- Butter wash?

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syrion's picture
syrion

Beginner Question -- Butter wash?

I'm a beginner baking the "Lean Bread" from Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every Day -- just about the simplest recipe there is.  My first attempt tasted great and had a good crumb, but the crust was a little chewy and became impenetrable after a day or so.  For my second attempt, I'm using the same recipe, but I want to attempt to improve my crust.  I'm considering an egg wash and a butter wash; my understanding is that they have similar effects, but that the butter wash will make the bread richer.  A couple of questions.



  1. Do I apply a wash before the loaves go into the oven, or after a certain amount of time in there?

  2. Which wash is the best for my purposes?


If you have other suggestions for improving the crust, I'd love to hear them.

proth5's picture
proth5

the two washes have somewhat different effects.


A whole egg wash is usually applied prior to baking and will result in shiny, slightly crispy crust.  The other most frequent use for egg wash is to helpe attach things like seeds/sugar to the crust.


A "butter wash" is usually applied after baking and then the loaf is covered to result in a softer crust.


Hope this helps.

Jo_Jo_'s picture
Jo_Jo_

You can also use just the white of the egg with a tablespoon of water mixed in before baking.  Just put it on right before putting in the oven.  I like this because it gives the crust a lighter color than the whole egg wash.  It gives the crust a slighty chewier quality.  If I forget I will use a spray bottle and simply spray the loaves lightly when they come out and cover them with flour sack towels to cool. 


My husband likes bread with a lot softer crust so when I make bread for him I usually add some oil to the recipe, which helps a lot.  Not as lean a bread, but still healthy.


Butter or oil always seems to leave an oily feel to the crust which I don't care for, but I did use it for years to soften crusts.


Joanne


Just remembered, here's a link:


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/lessons/glazing

syrion's picture
syrion

Excellent, thanks guys!  I think I'll go with the egg white glaze.

syrion's picture
syrion

Second Bread


 


My result.  It's currently cooling; I'm looking forward to trying it.

Jo_Jo_'s picture
Jo_Jo_

Hmmm, those look good!  I'm waiting for my sourdough rolls to cool so I can cut into one!  It's so very hard to wait though.....


Joanne

Janknitz's picture
Janknitz

When it's still a little warm (not hot) in plastic or a thick towel can also help to soften the crust.