The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Crunchy french baguette crust's picture

Crunchy french baguette crust

Hello All: Dec 3, ‘22


I’m an experienced USA home baker of 7 years. Way back then I abandoned all earlier baking except for learning how to bake French Baguettes. I’ve never had a minute of help from anyone except I have watched most internet videos. Conquered all the problems except one.


I bake a satisfactory baguette with large olive/walnut size alveoli, good oven spring, and an ear once in a while, ... I use only proofed (good) store bought 7 g packets of USA usual supermarket yeast which is fully alive. (I’ve found that 75% of supermarket yeast is dead or half dead. Tried my own starter but it is cost prohibitive since I only bake 1 experimental baguette at a time.) Currently using a 50 lb sack of General Mills Trump high gluten bread flour – which is excellent. Tried most competitive bread flours but similar results.


Got one problem left that I am going crazy trying, unsuccessfully, to solve. I can’t get a crunchy crust. I bake under oven injected steam from a pressure cooker on the home stove top, fed via silicone plastic tube (high temp tolerant) thru the stove top vent into the oven. Tried recipe hydr from 100% thru 65%, bake temps from 470°F thru 390°F, bake times appropriate for optimum quality. No matter what I do, I can’t get that crunchy crust.


Possibly, I think moisture from inside the baguette when cooling, (after bake), is collapsing the crust but I don’t know what to do to avoid that – even @ 65% hydr. I believe even if I had a commercial bakery oven there is something I am doing or not doing causing the deficiency.


Anyone care to help?       Email: cevicheman at gmail dot com



mariana's picture


There are two things that will solve your problem of softened and rubbery baguette crust

1) lower protein bread flour, 10-10.5% protein is optimal

2) longer bake in a dry oven to make sure the loaves lose 25% of their weight in the oven due to moisture evaporation. For example, for a 250g baked baguette start with a 315-325g piece of dough. 

250 x 1.25 = 312 plus some 3-5% moisture will be lost as baguettes cool down outside the oven.

Ming's picture

Contrary to a popular believe, too much steam may not be a good thing for bread baking. 

suave's picture

Much depends on the oven.  My old oven baked great baguettes, in my new oven I can't bake a comparable one to save my life.

Gmbryant's picture

For crunchy Baguettes: I agree with comment on lower protein flour. I generally use 80% AP flour with the difference made up of spelt and whole wheat. I use a hoter oven - +500° at the onset. And I have an old cast iron lid  in the upper part of the oven. I also use levain starter. In terms your concerns relating to the cost of maintaining a starter. I maintain only a tiny starter - 10 grams of flour or less for any feeding.

AlanG's picture

For bagguettes and batards, I bake at 460 with steam (towel in baking pan with boiling water added) and NO convection for half the time of the bake.  The steam source is removed and the remainder of the time is at 420 with convection.  Using convection will help dry the crust out better. 

The Roadside Pie King's picture
The Roadside Pi...

Hello, cevicheman.

Below is the link for the TFL Baguette community bake. This all-inclusive comprehensive baguette bible is bar none the most complete resource available about baking baguettes.  That being said, I agree with Marianna that the short answer is lower protein flour. Enjoy your studies.


The Baguette Bible