The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Tough crust

begoniabol's picture
begoniabol

Tough crust

Hi everyone,

A few months ago I started baking bread. I'm enjoying the process and even started my own starter and have started making breads with that.  I use Ken Forkish recipes, so quite high hydration I think and I bake the loaf in a Dutch oven. I always have the same problem, the crust never stays crispy. It gets tough after a few hours of baking. At first I let the bread rest on the counter to cool off, now I place it in the oven immediately after baking. Does anyone know why this happens? Does anyone have tips for me?

Maybe my location has something to do with it: I live in the Netherlands and it's always humid here, even in summers.

Hopefully someone knows the answer!

Thanks in advance.

naturaleigh's picture
naturaleigh

Hi B!  I think you have answered your own question in that the Netherlands humid/wet climate can negatively impact the crust of your bread.  You should be cooling the loaves on a wire rack, not directly on the counter, making sure to remove any parchment paper.  You can also leave the loaf and the Dutch Oven in the oven after baking--just turn the oven off when your baking time is up and leave the door open for about 10-15 minutes.  This helps ensure you are baking off any lingering moisture within the loaf, which can soften the crust later if there is too much present within the interior of the loaf.  However, I always reheat my home made sourdough (natural yeast) loaves in the oven at 350F for 15 minutes any time we want to enjoy bread with our meal, even if I baked the loaf that day.  That is the only way I know of to keep the crust crisp every time you want to have some, especially since you should let freshly baked loaves cool for at least 2 hours after baking--the crust is crisp right when it comes out of the oven, but you shouldn't cut into it immediately, hence the dilemma and need to reheat.  This ensures a shatteringly crisp crust, super crunchy and flaky, every time we want to have bread.  I think it is just the nature of sourdough that the crust does not stay super crisp.

begoniabol's picture
begoniabol

Hey naturaleig,

Thank you so much for your quick reply. I forgot to mention I always let the bread cool on a rack. I bake with a Lodge pan, using the 'lid' as the part I put the loaf on/in. How can I cool it the Dutch Oven way? Put the loaf on a rack and cover it with the big part? It wouldn't entrap the air that way though, which I think is the point.

Do you reheat the whole loaf, or slices?

Thanks again!

naturaleigh's picture
naturaleigh

Oops...so sorry.  That was confusing.  You would leave the lid off the DO and simply turn the oven off with the door cracked open a bit for about 10-15 minutes.  And, I always reheat the whole loaf and we slice off what we want for our meal, then return the partial loaf to a paper or cotton bag for storing, then pop the remaining loaf in the oven for reheating the next time.  Hope that helps!