The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Tough crust...

nowhereman's picture

Tough crust...

Hi everyone - how do i achieve a crust that is actually edible, as opposed to tooth-breaking hard and leathery? I've had a few complaints you see and it stirred me into action;-)  I use a fan assisted oven, baking stone, usually baking 2-3 loaves of 400-500 grams for around 35 minutes. I usually put a tray of just boiled water at the bottom under the baking stone, and i use a small water spray too. I was thinking perhaps that i'm overbaking, or its a water/steam issue?





AnnaInMD's picture

for a softer crust.


GSnyde's picture

What kind of flour are you using?  A lower protein flour (AP) will yield a tenderer crust than bread flour.

Also a lower slower bake will yield a softer crust.


ehanner's picture


In general, crust will be thinner if you steam for 15 minutes rather than say 12 minutes. As Glen mentioned, baking at a lower temperature will produce a thinner softer crust. The problem is you need to bake the crust enough to dry out the crumb under the crust. The moisture in the interior crumb section has to escape through the crust. If you leave the bread in the oven with the door ajar, propped open with a spatula, the crust will dry and become crispy, not leather like. It just takes 5 or so minutes. Then be sure to cool the breads on a wire rack to lhe moisture escape.

I see you are in England where it is still winter and with cold dry air. This is the season for crispy crusts. I love it! All summer the crust will loose it's crispness within a few hours due to the humidity in the air. Hope this helps.


ssor's picture

low hydration percentage. When my brother and I were kids mother made bread and gave us each a small lump to play with and bake in a can when she had the bread ready for the pans. The crust was always rock hard and bulletproof because we worked so much flour into the dough.

Chuck's picture

Yep, crust shouldn't be and needn't be a tooth-breaker or tough. If you're plagued with over-tough crust, you can a] spread a bit of butter, maybe before baking or maybe after or b] lay a piece of tinfoil on top of the loaf halfway through baking (lighter color more than less tough) or c] play with changes like lower temperature yet longer bake (for the crumb's sake the two changes should cancel) or d] remove the loaves from the oven a little sooner (steam after baking will soften the crust, at the cost of a less-well-done crumb). I'm not aware of successfully manipulating crust with steaming in the oven. Of course in any case be sure not to slice the loaf before it cools, as this will make the problem much worse.

But if your (or your eaters') standards are "like storebought", you won't (or more specifically you don't want to:-) get there.