All posts tagged Toppings

This article is part of “Everything You Need to Know to Start Baking Awesome Bread Using a Bread Maker“.

Everybody knows that I love to bake homemade bread from scratch. Using a bread machine it couldn’t be easier and it makes some fantastic bread! A bread machine combines convenience with flexibility. If you enjoy a fresh loaf of bread, but don’t have the time or space to bake from scratch, a bread machine is for you.

If you have never baked homemade bread before, and find the instructions a wee bit intimidating, I encourage you to try it. It may seem intimidating at first and the various steps do take a bit of time to learn, but overall, it is truly easy.

The simplest way to learn how to bake bread is to follow a basic recipe. Try Fast2eat Bread Recipes (much more to be published – keep checking), they are kind of foolproof 😉 really easy and the bread delicious.

Finishing the Crust – glazes, washes and toppings

Finishing the crust, the special touch for Homemade Bread,  that leaves it so yummy with a beautiful appearance!

Although glazes, washes and toppings are often optional ingredients, that I usually omit, from sheer lack of time, they do add a boost of flavour and enhance the appearance of the bread. They add flavour, affect the look, taste and crunch of the crust, provide an attractive finish on the bread, and add moisture.

The quality of bread crust is not determined only by the type of bread being baked. What you put in your loaf has much more to do with the way your loaf turns out than what you put on your loaf, glazing, washing and/or topping the exterior of your loaf can definitely help you achieve the effect you are after (i.e., soft, sweet, crusty, shiny, etc). It may also smooth or colour the crust as well as add flavour. They also provide the glue if you want to add seeds or grains to the crust.

Glazes often consist of liquid ingredients, such as oil, milk, water, honey, egg, among others, that are brushed onto the dough to provide an attractive finish. Toppings often consist of dry ingredients, such as seeds, grains, nuts, cheese, herbs, sugar, or salt, that are sprinkled on the dough, providing added flavour and creating a decorative quality.

Most glazes, washes and toppings are applied to the dough with a soft brush before baking, but some recipes call for the glaze to be applied after the bread is baked.

Important: Glazing, washing and/or topping are often the final steps in bread making prior to baking the bread. The bread dough should NOT receive any glazes, washes or toppings (if intended) until the dough has finished the second rising (final rising period), also known as proofing.

This is purely subjective, but I like the shiny glazes. Egg (I probably wouldn’t bother separating it, but the yolk is the more important component here) is probably the nicest option, unless you’re wanting a bit of sweetness, in which case the sugar water makes a nice alternative (although, for the shine, you’d have to brush it on after baking).

I very much like the simplicity of the water and flour option. I think the flour looks pretty and highlights the shape of the bread.

There are glazes, washes and toppings that can help to achieve a range of textures from soft and velvety to crisp and crunchy. But it is really up to you, the baker, as to how you will finish the loaf. Here is the full range of possibilities to choose from:

No glaze

It will look relatively pale compared to some of its glazed friends. It will have a matte appearance and the crust more chewy than crispy.

Shiny chewy crust

Egg white

Brush loaves with egg white before baking to produce a shiny, lighter in color, crust.

Important: You should NOT use it with “French” setting because the high cooking temperature may cause the egg to burn quickly.

Note: To keep unused egg yolk fresh for several days, cover with cold water and store in refrigerator in a covered container.

Egg white + Water

A crisp light brown crust: Mix 1 egg white (2 tablespoons) with 1/2 Tbsp water, lightly beaten and strained (the ideal sticky glaze for attaching seeds).

Egg white + Water + Salt

You can also add a tiny pinch of salt in with it because I’ve read that this can help the egg to spread more easily. Beat it with a fork before brushing it on.

Shiny and brown crust

Whole Egg (white and yolk beaten together)

For a shiny golden crust, use Egg Glaze or Egg Yolk Glaze. They are very similar – shiny and pleasingly brown. 

An egg wash glaze is one of the most common glazes for bread, resulting in a golden crust and because of its adhesive properties, allows other toppings to easily adhere to the surface of the dough.

Note: An egg glaze will lose its shine if using steam during the baking process.

Important: You should NOT use it with “French” setting because the high cooking temperature may cause the egg to burn quickly

Egg + Water

A medium shiny golden crust: 1 slightly beaten egg with 1 Tbsp water.

Egg + Salt

When using an egg glaze, it goes on most smoothly if strained. You can also add a pinch of salt to make it more liquid and easier to pass through the strainer.

Egg + Water + Salt

Mix the egg with 1/2 Tbsp water and a pinch of salt. Whip and strain to remove clumps of egg white. Wash with the egg mixture and add your toppings.

Note: Injected steam during the baking will remove the shine. Apply just before baking.

Egg + Milk (or cream)

Egg with milk for a darker brown.

Egg with cream for an even darker brown.

Mix 1 slightly beaten egg with 1-2 Tbsp milk or cream.

Egg Yolk Glaze

Egg yolk – gives the brown colour.

This is markedly one of the more shiny glazes, and one of the more richly coloured.

Egg Yolk + Water

Mix 1 slightly beaten egg yolk with 1 Tbsp water.

Egg Yolk + Milk

A shiny medium golden brown crust: 1 egg yolk and 1 teaspoon milk, lightly beaten.

Egg Yolk + Cream

A shiny deep golden brown crust: 1 egg yolk and 1 teaspoon heavy cream, lightly beaten.

Crispy and crunchy crust

Water (brushed or spritzed)

For a speedy, no hassle glaze, Spraying loaves with water while they bake will produce a crispy and crunchy crust with a nicer (in my opinion!) colour than the unglazed one.

Water may be brushed on or spritzed. Water keeps the dough skin from forming the crust, enabling the dough to expand. It also smooths out the crust, creating a more refined appearance. Apply just before baking.

Water + Salt

Opaque and tasty – dissolve 2 teaspoons of salt in 2 tablespoons hot water and brush over the bread. Sprinkle with herbs and bake.

Golden crust

Egg yolk + Coffee

For a golden crust brush an egg yolk mixed with some coffee.

Egg + Coffee

For a golden crust brush a mix of 1 egg with a few drops of coffee

Dark crust


Brush loaves with milk before baking to produce a lovely golden brown colour.

Darker than the one without a glaze, but not as dark as some of the other types of glaze. It produces a quite matt appearance but slightly shinier than the unglazed roll.

Soft chew velvety crust

Melted Vegetable cream or Margarine or Butter

Brush (1/2 tablespoon per average loaf) vegetable cream or margarine or butter (preferably clarified) before baking or immediately after baking to produce a soft chew velvety crust.

Important: Do NOT use vegetable oil cooking sprays to treat crusts, as the cooking sprays can be flammable when exposed to the bread maker’s heating unit.

Butter Glaze Before Baking

It’s quite matte, darker, with a richer, more pleasing colour with a slightly cracked appearance.

Butter Glaze After Baking

Brush as it came out of the oven. The result is a pleasing shine but a less browned appearance.

Soft crust with little shine

Cornstarch + Water

1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch and 6 tablespoons (1/4 cup + 2 tbsp) water: whisk the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of the water. Bring the remaining 1/4 cup water to a boil and whisk the cornstarch mixture into it; simmer for about 30 seconds, or until thickened and translucent. Cool to room temperature, then brush on the bread before baking and again immediately after baking.

Smooth chewy crust

Olive Oil

Glazes such as Olive Oil can be applied just before or after baking to soften the crust and to provide a richer flavour.

A matt appearance. Not at all shiny. The crust has a light colour and slightly crunchier than unglazed bread.

Important: Do NOT use vegetable oil cooking sprays to treat crusts, as the cooking sprays can be flammable when exposed to the bread maker’s heating unit.

Hard crust (French or Italian)

Just in the oven. No Bread Maker baking.

Place a baking dish with boiling water on the oven floor while the bread bakes.

Rustic and chewy crust

Flour (dusted)

A powdery, rustic chewy crust. Dust the dough with some flour. This will encourage the crust to form more quickly, resulting in a more rustic appearance with a chewier crust. Apply just before baking.

Sticky sweet


Honey is applied, just after the loaf is removed from the oven. You can attach toppings. The honey will soak into the crust but hold the toppings on.

Sugar Water Glaze After Baking

A small amount of sugar dissolved in a small amount of water will give a shiny appearance and the subtly sugary flavour.

Sugar Water Glaze Before Baking

It will result in a matte appearance with a lovely darkened crust with a subtly sweet taste of the glaze.

Browned Butter Glaze

2 Tbsp margarine or butter
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
4 tsp milk

Heat margarine in a 1-quart saucepan over medium heat until light brown; cool. Stir in powdered sugar and vanilla. Stir in milk until smooth and thin enough to drizzle.

Cinnamon Glaze

Mix until thin enough to drizzle:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp water

Citrus Glaze

Mix until thin enough to drizzle:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp grated lemon or orange peel
2 tsp lemon or orange juice

Creamy Vanilla Glaze

Mix until thin enough to drizzle:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
2 tsp milk

Choco-Banana Spread

1/3 cup mashed ripe banana

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted

Honey-Walnut Spread

6 Tbsp cream cheese, softened

1 Tbsp chopped walnuts
2 tsp honey

Spicy and golden crust

Oil + Curry or Pesto

Brush with a mix of oil and curry or pesto.

Important: Do NOT use vegetable oil cooking sprays to treat crusts, as the cooking sprays can be flammable when exposed to the bread maker’s heating unit.

Garlic Butter

1/4 cup margarine or butter, softened
1/8 tsp garlic powder

Herb-Cheese Butter

1/4 cup margarine or butter, softened
1 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp chopped fresh parsley
1/4 tsp dried oregano leaves
Dash of garlic salt

Italian Herb Butter

1/4 cup margarine or butter, softened
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
Dash of salt

Ham and Swiss Spread

6 Tbsp cream cheese, softened
2 Tbsp finely chopped, fully cooked, smoked ham
1 Tbsp shredded Swiss cheese
1/2 tsp prepared mustard

Herb-Cream Cheese Spread

1/2 cup whipped cream cheese
1 tsp chopped fresh or 1/2 tsp. dried dill weed
1 small clove garlic, finely chopped

Ripe Olive Spread

Cover and mix in food processor or blender until slightly coarse:
1-1/2 cups pitted, ripe olives
3 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp capers, drained
3 flat anchovy fillets, drained
1 tsp Italian seasoning
2 garlic cloves

Scoring / Creating Artisan Bread Crusts

Scoring is cutting slashes in the skin of the dough. This gives a route for the expanding dough to escape. If there isn’t a wash, the drying crust will open to permit the interior to escape creating the classic artisan look.

Artisan bread derives their name from unique combinations that aren’t usually found in traditional bread. I know using a bread maker for the whole process is more ‘automatic’ than it is ‘artisan’. Artisan “like” breads are easy to make and bake in your bread machine.

If desired, slash the top of the dough ¼ to ½ inch deep with a sharp knife into desired design.

Just before the bread baking cycle begins, open the cover of the bread maker and carefully brush the top surface of the dough with a lightly beaten egg white that has been mixed with 1 teaspoon of water.

Leave plain or sprinkle with seeds, herbs, grated parmesan or romano cheeses, or other desired toppings. Press toppings gently into the dough to ensure it adheres and will not fall off.

Close the cover and allow bread to bake.

For best results, use only the beaten egg white with water to treat the crust before the bake cycle begins. This mixture will ensure that toppings will stick and not fall off when the bread is removed from the pan.

The crust can also be treated after the bread is done baking. Remove bread from the bread pan and place on a rack. Lightly brush the top of the loaf with melted butter, margarine, olive oil, or vegetable oil and sprinkle desired topping on to the bread’s top.

Important: Do NOT use vegetable oil cooking sprays to treat crusts, as the cooking sprays can be flammable when exposed to the bread maker’s heating unit.

Note: Some glazes, such as egg or honey, have an adhesive property. When applying these glazes to bread, it is important to keep the glaze away from the sides of the pan to prevent the bread from sticking to the pan. The adhesive nature of the glaze may also prevent the dough from properly expanding while baking if too much of the glaze is applied along the edges of the pan.


Toppings of seeds, grains, nuts, cheese, herbs, sugar, or salt provide added flavour and create a decorative appearance.

There are several methods in which toppings can be applied to dough prior to baking.

Using your fingers, simply sprinkle the ingredients over the surface of bread loaves or rolls prior to baking.

A sieve or flour duster can be used to dust the surface when using powdered ingredients such as flour.

Some toppings may be easiest to apply using a spoon.

Here are some possible toppings.

  • Basil
  • Caraway seed
  • Garlic flakes
  • Rolled oat flakes
  • Onion
  • Oregano
  • Poppy seed
  • Sesame seed
  • Rolled oats

Use your imagination

Of course, these are not the only glazing alternatives. This is another chance to be original and use your imagination. And remember, a glaze makes a good glue for sticking seeds, such as sesame or poppy seeds, to the top of your bread. Let me know if you have any great favourites that I’d like to try.

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