Making bread by hand – Finishing the crust

Finishing the crust – glazes, washes, and toppings (Optional)


Make the crust of homemade bread yummy and beautiful by finishing it. This adds flavour, makes it look cool, crispy and moist. Although optional, glazes, washes and toppings can make the bread taste better and look prettier. Without washes, it will look floury, but washes make it pretty and shiny. You can use glazes, washes or toppings to make the bread look and feel exactly how you’d like it. These can give different textures such as soft, sweet, crusty or crunchy. It depends on you as the baker how you wish to finish the loaf. Remember to prepare glazes, washes, and toppings while the oven is preheating.

Finishing with water and NO toppings

To make bread crust crispy and crunchy, you can brush or spray water on it while baking. This will also give it a nicer colour. Doing so prevents the dough from forming a crust, which allows it to keep expanding. The water also smooths out the crust, making it look more refined.

Apply just before baking.


Glazes and washes

To make bread look nice, you can put things like seeds or grains on top. Glazes and washes are like glue that helps the seeds stick. They are usually made with liquids like oil, milk, water, honey, or egg. These liquids are put on top of the bread dough with a brush to make it look better.

Use a pastry brush to apply the glaze

Some glazes (like eggs or honey) can stick to the pan. To prevent your bread from sticking to the pan, don’t let the glaze touch the sides. This will also help the dough rise properly while baking.

When to add

Glazing, washing and toppings are often the final steps in bread making. They are usually applied to the dough before baking. But some recipes call for the glaze to be applied after the bread is baked.

The bread dough should NOT receive any glazes, washes or toppings (if intended) until the dough has finished the final rising period, also known as proofing.

Adding washes and toppings before baking

Before the bread baking cycle begins, open the lid of the bread maker and brush the top surface of the dough. Sprinkle with desired toppings like seeds, herbs, grated parmesan or Romano cheese or leave plain. For the best results, use beaten egg washes to treat the crust when adding toppings. This mixture will help the toppings stick and not fall off. Press the toppings gently into the dough to ensure they stick. Close the lid and let the bread bake.

Adding glazes after baking

After baking bread, you can also improve the crust. Take out the bread from the bread pan and put it on a rack. Then, put butter, margarine, olive oil, or vegetable oil on the top of the bread and add your favorite toppings. But, do not use cooking sprays since they can catch fire when they come in contact with the bread maker’s heating unit.


Here is a full range of possibilities to choose from:

For an opaque and pale crust

No glaze

The bread will look relatively pale. It will have a matte appearance, and the crust will be chewy than crispy.

For an opaque, tasty, light colour, smooth, chewy crust

With a matt appearance, not shiny at all, the crust has a light colour and is slightly crunchier than unglazed bread.

Olive oil before or after baking

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

For an opaque and tasty

Water + Salt + herbs before baking

  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 2 tablespoons hot water
  • herbs

Dissolve 2 teaspoons of salt in 2 tablespoons of hot water and brush over the bread. Sprinkle with herbs and bake.

For an opaque dark crust

Milk before baking

If you brush bread with milk before you bake it, it will turn a nice golden colour. It will be darker than bread without anything brushed on it, but not as dark as some other glazes. It will be a little shiny but not too much.

For a softer, shiny crust

Milk or cream after baking

Brush just-baked bread with milk or cream.

For a shiny, light golden-brown chewy crust

If desired, sprinkle chopped nuts or fruit and or seeds after glazing.

Egg white before baking

Before baking bread, brush the top with egg whites for a shiny and lighter crust. Do not use egg whites with the “French” or “ExpressBake (under 1 hour)” setting, as the high temperature can cause it to burn. To keep leftover egg yolks fresh, cover them with cold water and store them in the fridge in a covered container for several days.

Egg white + Water before baking

Crispy brown crust and perfect sticky glaze for seeds.

Lightly beat and strain before brushing it on.

  • 1 egg white (2 tablespoons)
  • 1/2 tablespoon water

Egg white + Water + Salt before baking

You may add a small amount of salt to make it smoother when straining and spreading.

Beat it with a fork before brushing it on.

  • 1 egg white (2 tablespoons)
  • 1/2 tablespoon water
  • tiny pinch of salt

For a shiny and pleasingly golden-brown crust

Whole egg before baking

To get a shiny and golden-brown crust on bread, use the whole egg or just the egg yolk. They work the same, but the yolk is more important. An eggwash is the best option unless you want something sweet. It helps toppings stick to the bread. Don’t use an egg glaze with the “French” or “ExpressBake” setting or it may burn quickly. Note that an egg glaze will lose its shine if it’s exposed to steam during baking.

Egg + Water before baking

A medium shiny golden crust.

  • 1 slightly beaten egg
  • 1 tablespoon water

Egg + Water + Salt before baking

To make egg wash smooth, strain it before use. If it’s too thick, add salt to make it more runny and easier to strain.

  • 1 slightly beaten egg
  • 1/2 tablespoon water
  • tiny pinch of salt

Mix the egg with 1/2 tablespoon 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 that an egg glaze will lose its shine if it’s exposed to steam during baking.

Apply just before baking.

Egg yolk glaze before baking

Egg yolk gives a brown colour. It is markedly one of the shiniest glazes and the most richly coloured.

  • 1 slightly beaten egg yolk
  • 1 Tablespoon water

Mix 1 slightly beaten egg yolk with 1 Tablespoon water.

For a shiny and dark golden-brown crust

Egg + Milk (or cream) before baking

  • 1 slightly beaten egg
  • 1-2 Tablespoon milk (for a shiny medium golden-brown crust) or cream (for a shiny deep golden-brown crust)

Mix 1 slightly beaten egg with 1-2 Tablespoon milk or cream

Egg yolk + Milk (or cream) before baking

• 1 lightly beaten egg yolk
• 1 teaspoon milk (for a darker brown) or heavy cream (for an even darker brown)

For a shiny and darker golden-brown crust

Egg + Coffee before baking

Mix 1 egg with a few drops of coffee for a shiny and darker golden crust.

Egg yolk + Coffee before baking

Brush an egg yolk with coffee for a shiny, darker golden crust.

For a soft chew velvety crust

Butter or Margarine, or Melted vegetable cream before or after baking

Brush 1/2 tablespoon butter (preferably clarified), margarine, or melted vegetable cream before or immediately after baking to produce a tender, 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 and darker, with a more vibrant, pleasing colour and slightly cracked appearance.
  • Butter glaze after baking – Brush as it comes out of the oven. The result is a pleasant shine but a less browned appearance.

For a soft crust with little shine

Cornstarch + Water – before, during and after baking

This is a secret to giving your bread the professional bakery look.

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoon water
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
    With a small whisk, stir cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of water in a small saucepan.

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, and then brush on the bread.

  1. Before baking
  2. Again, about 10 minutes before baking is finished
  3. And again immediately after baking (or 3 minutes before the bread is completely done)

For a shiny, sticky sweet crust

Honey after baking

Put honey on your bread as soon as it’s out of the oven. You can attach toppings. The honey will soak into the crust but hold the toppings on.

Sugar water glaze after baking

Sugar water is a good way to add sweetness. Just mix a little sugar in some water and it will give your baked goods a shiny look and a hint of sweetness. But if you want the shine, you have to put it on after baking.

For an opaque, sticky sweet crust

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.

Creamy vanilla glaze before baking

Mix until thin enough to drizzle:

  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons milk

Browned butter vanilla glaze

  • 2 tablespoon butter (or margarine)
  • 2/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 teaspoons milk

Heat butter (or margarine) in a 1-quart saucepan over medium heat until light brown; cool. Stir in confectioner’s sugar and vanilla. Stir in milk until smooth and thin enough to drizzle.

Cinnamon Glaze

Mix until thin enough to drizzle:

  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons water

Citrus glaze

Mix until thin enough to drizzle:

  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon or orange peel
  • 2 teaspoons lemon or orange juice

Choco-banana spread


  • 1/3 cup mashed ripe banana
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (melted)

Honey-walnut spread


  • 6 Tablespoon cream cheese (softened)
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped walnuts
  • 2 teaspoons honey

For sweet icing glaze

Confectioner’s sugar + milk (or water or fruit juice) glaze

Mix until smooth:

  • 1 cup sifted confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of milk, water or fruit juice

Drizzle glaze over raisin or sweet bread when they are almost cool. If desired, generously sprinkle with your choice of nuts or seeds after glazing.

For a spicy and golden crust

Oil + Curry or Pesto

Brush with a mix of oil and curry or pesto.

Garlic butter


  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine (softened)
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Herb-cheese butter


  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine (softened)
  • 1 Tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • Dash of garlic salt

Italian herb butter


  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine (softened)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Dash of salt

Ham and Swiss Spread


  • 6 Tablespoon cream cheese (softened)
  • 2 Tablespoon finely chopped, fully cooked, smoked ham
  • 1 Tablespoon shredded Swiss cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon prepared mustard

Herb-cream cheese spread


  • 1/2 cup whipped cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh or 1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed
  • 1 small clove of garlic (finely chopped)

Ripe olive spread

Cover and mix in a food processor or blender until slightly coarse:

  • 1-1/2 cups pitted, ripe olives
  • 3 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 Tablespoon capers (drained)
  • 3 flat anchovy fillets (drained)
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 2 garlic cloves

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. If you have any great ideas, please share them with me.


This article is part of “How to bake awesome bread

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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