The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Plase help with crust control

diana.s's picture

Plase help with crust control

Hi there!

I've recently  started baking bread the artisan way. I've developed a starter and proceded to bake my first loaves and rolls. And I've got a huge problem: they all turn out with a brick-hard crust. They are baked in an electric oven, with a granite stone 2 cm thick. I preheated the oven for minimum one hour, then at the same time I put theloaf in, I  threw half a glass of warm water in the bottom of the oven. The rack is on the second from the bottom, i have an oven thermometer and strived to have a temperature of about 230-240 degrees Celsius. The second time I tried a lower temperature, because I read that if the oven is usedwith the fan on, it should use about 10 or 20 degrees less. Still, the crust is very hard. Not thick, but hard. Any ideas what I could do to make it ok?


JamesKirk's picture

I live at nearly 1 mile high altitude, and wondered if my hard crust was due to my geographical location. Like you, I've tried various things to control the hardness of my crusts. Having been pondering just this quandry this week, I wondered if on my shaping rise I'm not allowing the exterior of the dough get too dry. Seems that the loaves with the hardest crust are the ones  that spring very little at all (proper oven temps and hot water/spray bottle, etc.). Also, the slashes seem to do very little on these loaves that appear to have their exterieors dry and pre-hardened. Having not baked since coming to these questions, I'm going to try spritzing the exterior of the loave with some oil before its final rise to see how that might affect things like oven spring, slashing results, interior crumb, and of course, crust density. Will post here if anything positive happens (or negative to share knowledge).

longhorn's picture

Your complaint seems strange to me for a thin, brick hard crust is not usually long lasting which suggests something else is askew. At 230 C the temp is hot enough to bake reasonably quickly and to give a good crust. So...the next question is what is the internal temp when you are pulling the bread from the oven and effectively, how long are you baking? Which also requires the size of the loaf to make real sense. And how hydrated is your dough. Wet sourdoughs (70%) are, in my experience, always moist in the intereior even if I bake them to 211 F or 99.5 C. And the crust is still reasonably thin but certainly not brick hard. And...the moisture in the interior will soften the outer crust in a few hours anyway. So, this raises the question why your crust isn't softening. And that is why I think you need to share some of this additional information before we can help. (I personally find the crust on wet dough loaves such that I prefer to reheat them to recrisp and thicken the crust and sometimes bake them for as much as an additional 30 minutes at 350 F.

Without enough information it sounds to me like your baking times are long and your oven temperature is lower than you believe.