Hard crust

Laura Cummings
I've baked sourdough bread now 4 separate times, and the crust is too hard. Even on the bottom, which this last time I used a loaf pan. I'm at my wit's end trying to figure out why, but I've already decided the next time I bake. I'm using milk instead of water. Any other ideas?
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oldman 2018 November 17

Are you slashing the dough before baking?  Milk will give a softer crust because it has fat in it.  But sourdough doesn't really need anything to be good except flour, water, salt, and starter.  If your sourdough isn't getting the steam it needs that can be a problem.  Baking in a Dutch oven and keeping it covered the first half of baking might improve your loaf.  If you don't want to invest money and don't have a Dutch oven, you can take whatever pan you'd use to make lasagna.  Fill it 3/4 full of warm water and put it on the bottom rack in the oven when you preheat it.  That should give you a decent amount of humidity in your oven.  You might use an oven thermometer to make sure your oven isn't hotter than you want it or just reduce the heat 25 degrees Fahrenheit and see if that helps, or shorten your bake time a bit.  Try just baking the loaf on a cookie sheet with parchment paper, the pan may be holding in too much heat.  If you do use a pan, get it out of the pan and on a cooling rack as soon as it's done.  You can also lightly mist the loaf with plain water in a misting bottle just before you slide it into the oven if you don't want a pan of hot water to worry about in your oven.  Misting in the oven every 15 minutes won't give you uniform temperature or humidity.  But it should still offer the possibility of a softer crust by giving you better humidity.  You just need to figure out what you starter needs to make dough and what the dough needs to make bread.  Experiment until you get the results you want.  Baking the same loaf 4 times and getting a hard crust each time is good news and bad news.  The bad is you haven figured out how not to get a hard crust.  The good news is your methodology is good so when you do figure out what you need to change you shouldn't get a hard crust again.  Sourdough is usually a wetter dough than most yeast breads.  If you measure your flour rather than weigh it you might be getting your proportions off a bit.  Which recipe are you using BTW?

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