The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

The Perfect Crust?

misspia13's picture
misspia13

The Perfect Crust?

I've got crusty issues!

 

I've made both Lahey No-Knead and Ken Forkish Saturday bread and I get very different crusts with each. I am preferring the Saturday bread crust as it's thicker and crackling, but not chewy. The Lahey crust is entirely too thin and weak. I've tried baking the Lahey loaf longer for a harder crust, but it just gets hard in my experience.

 

I'd like to be able to select recipes and techniques to create my ideal crust. Any ideas on what particulars in a recipe would affect crust formation? Does everyone just love the flimsy Lahey thin crust and I'm just the odd man out?

 

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Tried looking up the recipes but I didn’t easily find them. It would help if you posted the formula/recipe of each. But especially Lahey’s since that is the one giving you problems.

I think that thicker crust is more the norm. I have a hard time getting thin and soft. Are both baked at the same temp? What about their hydrations, flours, etc...?

Dan

Southbay's picture
Southbay

The vessel and temperature for baking probably make as much of a difference as variations in your dough recipe/techniques.

Baking boules from the same doughball, I've gotten different crusts with different baking times. Usually I do 20 mins covered at 450F and 20 mins uncovered at 350F, but an accidental alternate baking time of 33 minutes at 450F with the lid coming off after 20 mins gives me a darker and I'd say thicker/harder crust. 

 

misspia13's picture
misspia13

Thanks for the feed back. I find that with a longer covered bake I definitely get a "thicker" crust on the Lahey No-Knead loaf, but it's not as crispy as I'd like. Just wondered if there was an underlying handling or ingredient mixture that people found to be best for a lovely crust.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Bake hotter. And make sure that your oven preheats for a while. I start my oven one hour before the bake. You can preheat at oven max, mine is 550, other’s go 500F. Turn it down during the bake to 475 or 450F.

It was suggested but I haven’t tried it yet. Place 2 ice cubes in the DO with your bread. The ice wii quickly melt and turn to steam. Was told it won’t hurt the dough.

ALSO, the bread’s crust can soften very quickly once out of the oven. Don’t store it in air tight plastic. I leave mine on the counter with the cut side down. But it still softens some...

HTH

Dan

misspia13's picture
misspia13

Interesting thought Dan! I am intrigued by the ice cube trick and might do some experiments next weekend. Thanks for the help!

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Here is the link to the post. I think there is other info in other in that one

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/comment/399363#comment-399363

please reply back with your findings after testing it out. Trail runner is very helpful. 

dan

 

 

Southbay's picture
Southbay

And Dan is right about avoiding sealed plastic bags. Perhaps it’s OCD, but I let breads cool a bit on the stove grate rather than the flat counter specifically to avoid steaming and softening the bottom crust. 

One thing I’ve noticed is a flimsier crust if there’s lots of AP flour in the mix and a firmer crust when there’s more of my trusty King Arthur bread flour. So higher protein flour might help get you the results you are after. 

Some bakers let their bread cool so long that the crispness must be gone by the time they slice and eat. But I think the crispness is something special you can’t really get from a store and like to serve ‘em warm and crispy.