Crustier Crust

I'd like to get a thicker crustier crust on my sourdough baguettes. I spray them with water, leave some water in a tray in the oven and bake at 225 degrees (have tried lowering temp after 10 mins). But I still find my bread cooks before I get much of a crust. The crust is hard when it comes out of the oven but softens considerably on cooling. The oven is electric with top and bottom elements (but can be switched so it only uses the bottom element). Anyone got any suggestions???


5 comments

Thanks for the advice guys. I already retard in the fridge but generally before shaping the loaves. By the time they've had their final proof they'd be at room temperature. I do a fair bit of spraying in the first 5 mins, but I might try steam for longer. When I've baked for longer they seem to get a bit dry, maybe I need to try a lower temp. I was starting at 225 to maximise spring.


John, most of my baking is done at 210C (actual by thermometer) for 45minutes. I get a good solid crispy/chewy crust, but it does soften after a few hours.

I meant cold dough and hot oven, and yes there is difficulty conrollign the spring.

Thnking about it, i suspect the answer is to steam for longer - more water into a preheated pan, or top up when the oven seems less steamy, Its the hot steam at the beginiing of the bake that does it, in the first 15 mins or so. After that you need a drier atmosphere

Jack,

when you say 'bake from cold' do you mean that the dough is cold (straight from the fridge), or the oven is cold (not warmed up) or both?

I find that when I bake loaves straight from the fridge that the crumb is uneven, with some larger holes, and lots of smaller holes. (You may not have that problem with your high intensity food processor mixing, but some of us are still hand mixing). I suspect that it is part of the same phenomenon that gives rise to uneven spring. There is enormous spring in dough from the fridge, but it often seems to occur along one side of the loaf, or more at one end, despite my best attempts to slash evenly.

Any hints/ideas?

thanks
Dom


Several things:

a) Bake cooler and longer;
b) Retard overnight int he refrigerator. This gives more sugars, dries the crust a little and makes fine bubbles in the crust. If you bake form cold you can also achieve (a);
c) Use hot steam instead of spraying the loaves. Put a thick cast iron pan empty in the oven to preheat. After you have put he dough in throw a cup of water into the hot pan (caution: scald danger, and check any oven glass can take it) then close the door quickly. The hot steam gelatanises the surface of the loaves;

You need hot steam to gelatanise the crust.