The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Paper thin crust

Dukiehouser's picture

Paper thin crust

How to get a thicker more stout crust?

I have been making bread for about a year now after getting into it after receiving the Tartine book a couple Christmases ago. I initially started out with a few goes at the natural leaven loaf in the book but after killing my starter a too times I altered my process and have been using packaged yeast for the time being. Even though I am not working with wild yeast (which I would prefer to) I am learning a lot and making some really tasty bread. I am very happy with the taste, look, and smell of the bread but am disappointed by the structure of the crust. The crust in some places feels as thin as paper and when I cut it the loaf will not hold shape. My ideal outcome for this bread would be to keep everything the same just with a thicker more stout crust.


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My formula



200g water

200g flour

3g active dry yeast


Final dough:

1000g flour

750g water

23g salt


I start the poolish in the morning and let it sit for three hours. When ready I dissolve what I can in 700g of water then add 1000g flour, mix and let sit for 20 to 30 min. Next I add the salt and the remaining 50g water. I stretch and fold every 30 min or so for about 4 hours. I shape the loafs and put them in bowls lined with a towel that has a 50/50 rice/wheat flour mixture on them. Depending on how late in the day it is and what I have the next day I might bake the loafs anywhere from 4 to 24 hours later (any longer than 4 I put them in the fridge). I bake them in a cast iron pot that is cool when I put the loafs in with the oven pre heated to 475. I leave the lid on for 25 min and when I take it off I turn the heat down to 450 and bake for another 20 min.  Initially the crust is very hard and sounds great if you squeeze it but after 20 min out of the oven it becomes very soft. Once the loafs cool to room temp they regain some rigidity but for the mast part it stays soft.

I can say that when I was first making loafs with the natural leaven the crust was closer to what I would like. Does the type of leaven used make a difference in how the crust comes out?

Any ideas on how to get a more desirable crust would be greatly appreciated.

dwfender's picture

So this bread has a very high moisture content. Its 75percent in the final dough and you're mixing it with a 100 percent preferment. Breads this high in moisture tend to soften quite a bit during cooling. If your crust isn't thick enough you need to play with your timing on the lid part of the bake. As far as the crust being crispy or soft though, that's a lot harder to accomplish in a home oven. Your best bet is to just bake the bread, let it cool completely and then retoast it in the oven a bit before eating .It will dry out the outside without drying out the crumb or over baking. You can always play around with shutting the oven off close to the end of baking and leaving the door cracked. That will do the same thing in one shot, timing is important there though.


dwfender's picture

your bread looks great btw.

jcking's picture

I would also remove the loaf from the pot when the lid is removed (place loaf on oven rack) this would also allow more moisture to escape, thru the bottom.


Nickisafoodie's picture

Preheat to 500 degrees.  A hotter oven will get you there, try 475 for the whole bake.  You can leave it in the dutch oven rather than taking it out mid way and putting it on the oven rack. 

Pat in SoCal's picture
Pat in SoCal

I, too, make the Tartine bread ...but with natural leavan starter...raising the hydration to 80%.    I'm guessing the trouble with your crust could be you are not preheating the dutch oven before you put the bread in.  I pre-heat about 30 minutes at 500 then lower the bread into the dutch oven on wet reusable parchment paper.  Lower to 450.  Lid on for 20 minutes then off for 20-25 until about 210 interior temp.  Gorgeous crust every time.  Soft crust could also be due to slightly undercooked bread as well.  You can also re-crisp by running the loaf (even a cut loaf) under a quick spray of water and then into a pre-heated oven until hot.  I hope that helps.

PeterS's picture

Hi Pat in Socal,

I have been baking Tartine baguettes and some variants recently and I am curious what you dough looks like at 80%. Would you mind describing it?


Pat in SoCal's picture
Pat in SoCal

I started with the suggested 75% but when I got used to it I increased to 80%.  Keep in mind I am in SoCal so my flour is undoubtedly drier.  Beautiful creamy crumb.  My kitchen is usually at 30-40% humidity...or less.