How to make bread with a crunchy crust?

How to make bread with a crispy and crunchy crust?

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One of the most sought-after qualities of bread is a crispy and crunchy crust that adds texture and flavour to the baked goods. Sometimes it can be hard to get it just right, but with good knowledge and skills, it’s possible. This article will give you tips on how to make bread with a perfect crust. It will cover the ingredients, techniques, and tricks you need to know. Whether new to baking or an expert, these tips will help impress your friends and family with high-quality bread. 

Many factors affect how a crust will come out, but it’s easier than you might think.
Follow these tips to achieve the perfect crunchy crust.

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Choose the right recipe

Crusty bread is usually made with only flour, water, yeast, and salt. It does not have ingredients like eggs, butter, sour cream, sugar, or mashed potatoes because those can make it soft. Some crusty bread recipes may use a little sugar, butter, or dried milk powder, but it won’t make a big difference to the crust.

Soft dinner rolls are not supposed to be crusty, so don’t try to make them that way because you will be disappointed.

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Shape the dough into a long and thin tube

A big round or oval loaf, a boule, can’t have a crispy crust like thin baguettes or rolls. Even if you try to make a big loaf crispy, it will still be soft on the inside. Choose smaller, thinner loaves or individual rolls if you like crunchy loaves with a crispy crust.

Ensure you knead the dough well and let it rise before shaping it.

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Score the bread dough

Use a sharp knife to make a few cuts on the top of the dough before baking. This will help the dough expand without cracking and create a crispy crust.

Be careful not to make the cuts too deep and deflate the dough.

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Baking the best crusty bread

While the bread’s ingredients affect its crust, baking is arguably a more significant factor in whether your bread is crusty, crunchy, or soft and tender.
Adjusting oven temperature and baking time can yield different effects on your bread, most notably in its crust.

Preheating the oven

Before baking bread, ensure your oven is preheated to the correct temperature and place a sturdy pan on the bottom rack.
When you bake bread, the temperature affects how it turns out. A higher oven temperature can contribute to a crispier crust. Consider increasing the temperature slightly, but keep an eye on the bread to prevent over-browning.

Crusty bread and lean dough bake quickly at a higher temperature, 200-220°C/400-425°F.

Create steam in the oven

Artisan bakers use a special oven with steam to make their bread crust crispy.
You can create a homemade steamy oven by putting a sturdy pan in it as it heats up and pouring water or ice into it to let the steam build-up. Keep the pan in the oven while the bread bakes, and after seven minutes, turn the pan around and spray more water on the bread.
You can also use a spray bottle to mist water into the oven during the first 5-10 minutes of baking.
Steam helps the crust develop by breaking down the starch in the flour, making it crispy.

Important: Just in the oven. NOT in bread machine!

Spray or brush water

You can brush or spray water on the dough for a crispy crust before baking it. This will make the crust crispy and give it a nice colour. Water helps the dough expand and makes the crust look smooth and refined.
Another way to get a crispy crust is to use an egg wash. Before baking, you can brush the dough with a mix of beaten egg and water. This will make the crust brown and crispy.

Bake on a pizza stone or steel

Use a preheated pizza stone, baking steel or cast iron skillet to get your bread’s bottom crispy. This will make the bread cook evenly and the crust crispy. It works because the stone or steel is very hot from the oven and transfers heat quickly and evenly to the bread, producing a crispier crust and helping it rise fast.

Use a Dutch oven

Baking bread in a covered Dutch oven traps steam from the dough, creating a moist environment that enhances crust formation. Preheat the Dutch oven along with the oven and place the dough inside, then cover it and bake as usual. Remove the lid during the last 10-15 minutes of baking to allow the crust to brown.

Bake until golden brown

Bake the bread in the preheated oven for the designated time, and remove the tray of water for the last 10 minutes to allow the crust to crisp up even further.
You can extend the baking time by a few minutes for an extra crispy crust. Just be mindful not to overbake the bread, which can lead to a hard crust.

The optimal internal temperature

Your bread’s temperature depends on the type of dough you use. Crusty lean bread and sourdough bread’s internal temperature should be 95-100°C/200-212°F. Make sure your thermometer is accurate, and check different spots in the bread to get a precise reading.

Keep in mind that temperatures rise quickly toward the end of baking.

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Allow bread to cool

Once the bread is done, let it cool completely on a wire rack before slicing into it. This will help the crust stay crispy and crunchy.
Don’t leave it in the pan because this could make the bottom of the bread too wet.
Wait for at least 15-30 minutes before you cut it.
Don’t try to cool the bread by leaving it in the oven after baking, as it can cause the bread to dry out and even burn.
Finally, don’t wrap the bread until it is completely cool. Otherwise, it might get too wet and spoil.

Once baked, transfer the bread to a cooling rack to prevent moisture buildup, which could make the crust soggy.

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Remember that achieving a crispy crust depends on the specific recipe and type of bread you’re making, as different loaves have different characteristics. Experiment with these tips and adjust them based on your preferences and the kind of bread you’re baking.

Enjoy your delicious, crunchy bread!

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This article is part of “How to bake awesome bread

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I hope my easy tips will give you the confidence to step into the kitchen and prepare delicious meals to eat with a handful of close friends.

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