The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Crust on Tartine Country Loaf Seems Soft's picture

Crust on Tartine Country Loaf Seems Soft

Hey all,

I bake pain au levain out of Tartine Bread, see pictures.  I have had relatively good success with oven spring, adjusting proofing time, crumb, flavor etc.  I find that the bread out of the oven has a nice crackling crust.  However, this crust over time substantially softens and does not remain crusty.  I feel I have left it in the oven sufficiently long becuase the bottom of the bread has significanly darkened.  Any suggestions are appreciated.

dwcoleman's picture

How long before it softens?  Are you bagging it in paper, plastic, or just uncovered?

I've made the same bread, left uncovered with the cut side down it should stay pretty crusty for a few days easy.  If you bag the bread in plastic, it will soften very quickly.'s picture

I allow it to come to room temp over night on a cooling rack, then store it in a bread box.  I would say it softens by the next morning.  I strongly suspect it is caused by residual water in the dough, but there is no real way to avoid that, as far as I know.  Could the dough be under developed?

wally's picture

I'm not familiar with the Tartine recipe for pain au levain;  however, if it is a high hydration bread (anything over 75%), then it may need more baking time to thoroughly set the crumb and bake off the excess moisture.

If it is a high hydration recipe, I would also not place the bread in a bread box (does yours have a light by any chance?), but would leave it cut-side down on the counter top.  I do this with breads such as Hamelman's 5-Grain Levain which has a hydration of 98%, and the crust retains its crispness for days.


breadforfun's picture

The good news is that even when I have eaten at the Tartine restaurant the crust is not always crispy-crunchy, so you're not likely doing anything wrong.  The same thing happens when I bake this bread as well.  Here are a couple of things to try that work for me:

Go for a longer bake at a slightly lower temperature to avoid overbaking the crust.

Use convection if available after removing the steam (also at reduced temperature).

After completing the bake, shut off the oven and prop oven the door, keeping the bread on the stone (if using) or in the cast iron for an additional 15 minutes before removing.

If all else fails, it makes great toast or pop it in the oven at 350˚F for 5-10 min. to crisp.