The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

A thank you and a question about crust.

KneadToKnow's picture

A thank you and a question about crust.

I want to start by saying thanks again to those who help and contribute to this site, and especialy those folks who offered tips in my first post ask for help with many failed breads :)


I'm now using the "Lesson 1" bread, as a starting point, with a few variations. 

1) I cut the salt in 1/2.  2 tsp was giving me a VERY salty loaf.  My wild guess is that the recipe actually refers to Kosher salt. Perhaps my use of table salt was throwing things off?

2) Borrowing from the "no kneed" recipe somone linked me to, I start by allowing 1C of water, 1C of the water, and the yeast blend/soak over night.  I think this is called a "poosh"? 

3) I've added 1.5 tsp of honey for flavor.

4) I supsitute 1/2 cup of the white flour, for whole wheat, allowing that to 'soak' in for a few hours.  

5) I am using a pan of water to cause steam

I've made several loafs with this and am pretty happy with the results.  It's not "Great" bread, but it's workable for everyday sandwiches.  Certainly better than what I was coming up with originally.

My only concern is the top crust is a quite hard right out of the oven.  By the next day it has sofened some, but is just a tad leathery.   Is there something I can do to soften it up a bit?

flournwater's picture

One of the things that troubles me about those progressive recipes in the lessons portion of this forum is that they attempt to instruct  the newcomer to bread making using bulk measurements.  That makes it extremely difficult for the student to duplicate results from one bread making experience to the next and often produces frustration that can be discouraging.  IMO that often results in newcomers abandoning further attempts to succeed.

You have a good perspective on the differences in salt.  Table salt weights approximately 20% more than Kosher salt for the same bulk measure.  When a bread formula doesn't specify the type of salt used, most people assume it's intended to be table salt.  Personally, when in doubt, I use Kosher because a loaf that is slightly undersalted is more tolerable at my table than one that is oversalted.  If the formula specifies "x" grams of salt, it doesn't make any difference what variety of salt you use.

I would like to suggest you try brushing the tops of your bread with olive oil, sour cream, sweet cream, milk, or something like that to help maintain a softer crust.  See if that helps.  My next suggestion would be to purchase a good book on basic bread making that relies on weighing ingredients rather than bulk measurements and begin your adventures in bread making from that perspective.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

rub the tops of the hot loaves with butter or oil.  This traps in some steam and softens the crust. 


KneadToKnow's picture

I gave that a shot using real unsalted butter and it did give a big improvement.  Thanks!

It's still a tad harder than what I'm shooting for, but this is 85% there :)

Anyone want to offer critique (forgive the poor quality photos, my digital camera is olllld and out-dated)  Be as honest as you like, I (like my bread) have a thick skin ;o)


msgtdoug .... Something else to watch is the steam in the oven.... 
I had read something similar, so I've been careful about how much water I add.  I've found that for my oven, 1.25 cups evaporates by about 2/3 of the bake time.  Is that sufficent steam time without over doing it?
flournwater's picture

From what I can tell from you images the crumb looks to be somewhat delicate and the crust is nicely browned.  If you add an initial burst of steam and then leave a pan of water in the oven, the amount of steam you're getting from the pan of water will diminish over time until it stabilizes to the point where it simply establishes a higher relative humidity throughout the oven.  If you want bursts of steam you'll need to use some form of misting, several times, within the first few minutes of baking.

Try some olive oil next time instead of the butter and see if that softens the crust any better.

msgtdoug's picture

Something else to watch is the steam in the oven....   while very valuable in the beginning of the bake to allow oven spring, the door should be slightly propped open to allow the moisture to escape or remove the pan of water.  Alternately, put less water in the pan... I suspect you'd find that part of that cup of water you're adding is still in the pan at the end of your bake.