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.