The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Chewy crust

Dwu3193's picture

Chewy crust

Lately, whether I've been baking lean country bread or rich brioche, the overly chewy crust has continued to haunt my loaves. When I take my loaves out of my oven, the crust is a little dry (but not crispy =( ) and after they've cooled down, they get all thick and chewy I've always steamed my oven with about half a cup of water, so that probably isn't the reason why. The only thing that has changed is that I sometimes brush the top of my loaves with a little bit of cold water, could that be the problem? If it isn't, then are there any ways to make it softer or crispier?

dmsnyder's picture

Hi, Dwu3193.

The kind of crust you get depends on the dough and on how you bake it.

A dryer dough will give you a dryer crust, all other things being equal. But most wetter doughs provide a nicer crumb. With most lean breads and many enriched breads, the crust should be hard when the loaf comes out of the oven, even if it softens with cooling. So, maybe you are not baking your loaves long enough, or if the interior is fully cooked (internal temperature of 205F) but the crust is still soft, you need to bake at a higher temperature.

Crusts get soft with cooling as the interior moisture moves outward. You can help keep the crust crisp by leaving the loaves in the oven, with the oven turned off and the door held open a crack with a spoon handle, for 5-10 minutes after they are fully baked.

Brushing the loaf with water before baking should not make the final crust softer, but brushing after baking will do so.

I hope this helps. Others may have additional suggestions.


ehanner's picture

I think the key word in your post may be "Lately". I don't know where you live but here in the Midwest everything that comes out of the oven crispy gets soft in short order from about July through September. High humidity does that.

Davids suggestions above will help you make a move toward crisp. He convinced me to try leaving my baked loaves in the oven with the door cracked open for a few minutes. It makes a big difference, especially in the summer.

What are you using for temp/time on say a simple French bread?




Windischgirl's picture

If you are going for softer crust, add a bit of oil or butter to the dough...about 1-2 Tbs. might do it.  It will also make for a more tender crumb.

My grandmother would brush her baked breads with melted butter (she was Austro-Hungarian, and for them, fattening dairy foods are a major food group!) which also made for a softer crust.

I think crisp only happens with flatbreads and baguettes--both of which are meant to be eaten warm.  Once my breads cool, the crust becomes chewy as the internal moisture migrates out...and the humidity of the air here softens it too.



Philadelphia PA

KosherBaker's picture

1. What is the weight of each loaf?

2. How long do they remain in the oven?

3. At what temperature?

4. Do you cover your loaves, like a La Cloche method?


ClimbHi's picture

and am following this thread with selfish interest. I too suffer from an inability to get tender crust. So far, the replies to your post have missed the mark, for me at least. My crusts are crispy on the outside when they come out of the oven, but they are thick and too chewy as well. Of course, the crisp goes away with time, but the chewyness only worsens as the loaves age. They really make you work to take a bite. Hey, we're talkin' some serious jaw effort here! Fortunately, I kinda like chewy bread (well, maybe not THAT chewy) and the flavor and crumb more than makes up for the crust, but still, . . . .

I bake mostly sourdough made with KA bread flour, a prefermented firm starter retarded in the fridge overnight, in a wood-fired oven, steamed with a garden sprayer prior to loading and a couple of more times in the first 5 minutes or so. Recently, I've started making larger batches so the oven is loaded to capacity to keep the humidity up during baking. I've tried using 1/2 bread flour & 1/2 AP flour, cooking at higher temps for shorter times, lower temps for longer times, less steam, more steam, dryer dough, wetter dough. Some of these variables have affected the crumb, but not much affect on the crust. I am sad to report that all this testing is also having an adverse affect on my waistline. ;-)

Is there some connection with how the dough is worked/kneaded that might cause this? I generally knead in the KA at low speed for 4 minutes, add salt, and then knead for another 4 minutes, per Reinhart's recipes. Rise 3 hours, shape and rise another 4 hours or so. (I've also tried cutting back on the mixer time and finishing up with stretch 'n fold.)

Any other ideas?

Pittsburgh, PA


dmsnyder's picture

Crust does lose its crispness over the 4-8 hours after baking. I can't think of any bread I've baked that stays crisp longer. You can re-crisp the crust by re-heating the loaf in a 375F oven for 5-10 minutes. If it's been cut, cover the cut side with aluminum foil.

My sourdoughs tend to have chewier crusts than do breads made with bakers' yeast. That's typical.