The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

seeking a soft crust: milk vs egg vs oil vs steam

sallam's picture

seeking a soft crust: milk vs egg vs oil vs steam


When I make bread buns and loaves, the crust always comes out hard and cracky.  I like simple basic recipes, using just flour, water and yeast. But I've always read that adding fats to the dough makes the bread softer. I don't like fat though. But I wonder, if I can get away with just one of those fats in my dough, which ingredient gives the most soft crust? and should I add that ingrient to the dough itself, or only use as coating just before baking?

I currently use a combination of both the water roux method (tangzhong), and slow bulk fermentation in room temp., using 0.1% IDY, so the crumb is already soft and fluffy, and the buns are sprigy. The crust though is still hard.. probably because no fat is in my dough at all.

PS. I use steam while baking (I put a pan with enough tab water in the bottom of the oven to generate steam). Should I stop doing so, to get a softer crust?

As soon as I take out the bread from the oven, I cover it with a cloth until it cools down. This helps soften the crust noticeably, but not that very soft and silky crust I'm looking for, like that of Mcdonald's burger buns.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Many thanks.

Mebake's picture

You could  brush soft butter on the top of your loaf soon as it comes out of the oven, this will soften the crust considerably. Covering the loaf as it cools also helps.

As to the dough fat, Butter would be the best in the dough, followed by oil and milk. In any case, steam must always be applied during first 10 minutes of baking

pmccool's picture

than enriched doughs.  Mebake's suggestion of buttering the crust straight out of the oven will definitely help soften the crust. 

Another way to soften the crust, if you don't want to add fats to the dough, is to reduce the oven temperature.  You will probably have to experiment with baking temperatures and times to arrive at a texture that pleases you.

Do keep in mind that most soft rolls are enriched with both fats and sugars.  They are also baked at lower temperatures.  Hard rolls, on the other hand, are more likely to be made with lean doughs and baked at higher temperatures.  You'll find exceptions to both of those generalizations as you look around but it still gives you an idea of probable inputs and outputs.


sallam's picture

Many thanks for the replies. Regarding butter brushing soon as it comes out of the oven,  can I spray water instead? I remember when I was young that I used to watch a baker spraying water on bread as it comes out hot from the oven.

MangoChutney's picture

Wrapping the hot loaf in waxed paper will hold in the moisture that would otherwise evaporate as it cools.  This softens the crust.

PaddyL's picture

Try brushing the loaves with milk before baking.