The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Advice for leathery and chewy crust for sourdough bread

lsnguyen7's picture

Advice for leathery and chewy crust for sourdough bread

Hello all,

I've been baking bread for about 2 years and have yet to find the solution for a leathery and chewy crust. Here is a link to my bread. The one with the lip/ridge in the middle is made with AP flour. While the pic with a circle scoring is made with bread flour.

I currently follow the Tartine bread recipe formula with a few tweaks.  I autolyse for 1 hour instead of 25-40 minutes. I bulk ferment between 5-6 hours instead of 3-4. I've found the shorter amount of time doesn't seem to build enough gluten to hold it's shape well when shaping. I proof for about 16 hours in the fridge. I leave my dough in the refrigerator until I'm ready to pop it in the oven. Lastly, with the dutch oven lid on I bake at 450 degrees at 20 minutes then with the lid off I bake at 450 degrees at 35 minutes (instead of 20-25). 

When the bread is fully cooled. The crust is great. It's crisp and not tough at all. However, the next day it loses it's crisp and turns leathery and chewy. What must I do for the crust to stay crispy for at least 2 days? 

Do I need to decrease my temperature lower than 450 and bake longer? 

Also, how do I achieve a more open texture of the bread? Do you all feel like my bread looks too dense? I currently use Bob Mills whole wheat flour and switch between Bob Mills AP and bread flour for my recipe. Should I be using a different flour to achieve a better crust and open texture?

Here is the Tartine recipe:

-Water 80 degrees 750 grams (75%)

-Leaven 200 grams (20%)

-Total flour 1,000 grams (100%)

-White flour 900 grams (90%)

-Whole wheat flour 100 grams (10%)

-Salt 20 grams (2%)


Thanks in advance, Lisa  

MichaelLily's picture

Bread from Tartine is also not crispy the next day. Unless you leave it bare on the counter. Moisture migrates from the crumb to the crust as a loaf sits. Alternatively, you can put an old loaf back in the oven to crisp it.

the hadster's picture
the hadster

I have never had bread from Tartine bakery, but I've had lovely bread from other bakeries, and I routinely make my own.

I always re-crip the crust in the oven the next day if I am looking for a crisp crust.  3 to 5 minutes at 350 is plenty of time, and the oven does not need to be reheated.

jimbtv's picture

Agree with all above. Higher hydrations tend to migrate from the crumb to the crust over time. Even a 65% hydration will break down the crust in a day.

If you are trying to sell your bread you will have to bake every day. At least that has been my experience. If it is just for home consumption I too would do a quick hot flash in the oven to evaporate moisture from the crust.



lsnguyen7's picture

Thanks all. I just read a post that said his Tartine bread was able to keep for 5 days which caused him to rethink his bread process. I may have to reduce my overall temp after the lid is pulled off and bake at a longer duration. How do you all feel about the density of my bread? Too dense? Is it overproofed or under? 

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

I think the question is - how do you feel about it? Crumb texture is a personal preference, so if you like it (or the people for whom you are baking like it), then it's perfect, no?

the hadster's picture
the hadster

The crumb is varied, which is the desired texture.  I honestly don't know if it is under proofed, but it does not look over proofed to me.

As to the keeping power of your bread, my bread keeps about 3 days.  At the end of that time, it really needs to be toasted to be enjoyed - and it makes great toast.  But mostly, its been eaten.

If there is a staling end of a loaf, I make it into croutons for salads.

lsnguyen7's picture

Thanks The Hadster for your reply. I wish my bread could keep crusty for 3 days. What recipe do you follow? 

the hadster's picture
the hadster

I follow Peter Reinserts Crust & Crumb recipe for a sour dough loaf.  It involves a biga, and long fermentation in the fridge, followed by high heat.

I'm afraid I don't know of a recipe that will yield a CRUST that will keep for 3 days.  My BREAD keeps that long, but the crust is softened by the second day.  I put it in the oven for about 3 to 5 minutes to crisp it up.

pmccool's picture

Bread crusts won't stay crisp past the first day or two.  It's the moisture inside migrating to the surface that softens the crust.  Now, I've made some rye breads with crusts that could sub for armor plating on an Abrams tank.  They never did soften because they were so thick and so hard but that isn't anything you want.  Unless you own a bandsaw.

If you want crispy crust every day, bake every day.  If that isn't practical, then crisp it up in the oven for a few minutes, as others have mentioned.  Or toast it.  Just know that each time in the oven dries the entire loaf, not just the crust.