How to make crusty bread: your recipes (and tips) for success

Is crusty bread your idea of heaven?

If so – the devil is in the details!

Many of us equate the words “crusty” and “artisan,” assuming that there’s only one path to great crusty bread: that followed by the professional baker. These bread masters lovingly tend long-rising doughs, carefully shape each loaf by hand, then bake bread to perfection in a wood-fired oven.

The result? Beautiful golden-brown loaves, richly flavored, perfectly shaped, and – of course – wonderfully crusty.

But you know what? Artisan bakers aren’t the only ones who can make delicious crusty bread. You, the home baker with average (or even startup) skills can make crusty bread simply by following these five simple tips – and then applying them to their accompanying recipes.

Ready? Let’s make crusty bread.

How to make crusty bread-2A

1. To make crusty bread, choose the right recipe.

On the left, soft, butter-and-milk enriched pull-apart dinner rolls. On the right, a crusty Italian loaf. Soft dinner rolls aren’t meant to be crusty; don’t force them beyond their comfort zone, because therein lies disappointment.

Crusty breads are usually the simplest ones: flour, water, yeast, and salt, with no eggs, butter, sour cream, sugar, mashed potatoes, or anything else that might turn them into softies. Sure, you might see a crusty bread recipe calling for a teaspoon of sugar, or a tablespoon of dried milk powder; these small amounts of softening agents may keep the loaf’s interior tender, but won’t affect the crispness of the crust.

How to make crusty bread via @kingarthurflour

Italian Sesame Bread

You know those Italian breads in the supermarket, the ones in crisp white paper bags printed with the name of the local Italian bakery?

If you’re a Boston-area native you’ll recognize this as scali bread. Its light, crisp crust flakes off in tiny shards as you rip off a hunk, creating a blizzard of seeds and crumbs: rich evidence that someone’s been into the bread box.

How to make crusty bread via @kingarthurflour

2. Shape the dough with more rather than less surface area.

A big, fat, round or oval loaf – a boule – doesn’t have as much opportunity to shine in the crisp crust department as does a thin baguette, or individual rolls. While you can certainly make a big loaf with crisp crust (you’ll see a couple of examples below), the ratio of crunchy to tender will be much smaller.

So if you’re a real fan of crust (as opposed to soft interior), opt for smaller, skinnier, or flatter loaves or rolls.

How to make crusty bread via @kingarthurflour

Crusty European-Style Hard Rolls

These rolls have a delicious crackly/crunchy crust due to their simple ingredients, and as a result of allowing them to proof in the refrigerator. Their texture is light and airy, rather than substantial, which makes them a wonderful mini-sandwich or dinner roll.

Serve these rolls with spaghetti, to sop up the sauce. Or use them for French dip sliders: rolls packed with hot roast beef, then dipped in the beef’s savory, aromatic juice.

How to make crusty bread via @kingarthurflour

3. To make crusty bread, create steam in the oven.

Remember the artisan bakers I mentioned at the beginning, those masters of the perfect crusty crust? They have a professional secret: the steam-injected oven. Nothing offers the baker quite as nice a crust as an oven filled with steam for the first part of the baking process.

While you most likely don’t have access to such an oven, you can try to replicate steam’s role in creating crisp crust by making your own homemade steamy oven. Some bakers like to place a sturdy pan (cast iron preferred) on the bottom shelf of the oven as it preheats, then pour 1/2 cup or so hot water into the pan as they’re loading the loaves. The result? Billows of steam trapped in the oven.

Another, easier way to re-create steam’s work is to simply spray or brush risen loaves with warm water before placing them into the hot oven. A third way: the French cloche (pictured above), a stoneware pan with lid that traps moisture from the baking bread, converting it to steam within its little bell-like cave.

And how, exactly, does steam create a crisp crust? Simply put, it has to do with the starch in flour. As bread bakes, its outer layer (crust) eventually reaches 180°F. At that point, the starches on the surface burst, become gel-like, and then harden in the oven’s heat to a crackly consistency. Steam hitting the bread’s surface facilitates this process.

How to make crusty bread via @kingarthurflour

No-Knead Crusty White Bread

The easy stir-together dough for this ridiculously easy crusty loaf rests in your refrigerator, developing flavor all the time, until you’re ready to bake. About 90 minutes before you want to serve bread, grab a handful of dough, shape it, let it rise, then bake for 30 minutes – on a pan or stone, with steam in the oven; or in a cloche.

The result? Incredible, crusty artisan-style bread. If you’re a first-time bread-baker, you’ll never believe this bread came out of your own oven. If you’re a seasoned yeastie, you’ll love this recipe’s simplicity. And, of course, its crust.

How to make crusty bread via @kingarthurflour

4. Bake on a pizza stone or steel.

Many bakers find they can create a decent crisp top crust, but struggle to make their bread’s bottom crusty, as well.

The best way to brown and crisp your bread’s bottom crust – as well as enhance its rise – is to bake it on a preheated pizza stone or baking steel. The stone or steel, super-hot from your oven’s heat, delivers a jolt of that heat to the loaf, causing it to rise quickly. At the same time, the bread’s bottom, without the shield of a metal pan – which takes awhile to absorb and then transmit heat – bakes super-quickly, becoming brown and crisp.

How to make crusty bread via @kingarthurflour

Stirato

Crunchy and chewy, with great “bite,” each long, skinny loaf of this Italian bread is filled with the large, irregular holes all of us home bread bakers strive for in our baguettes and country breads. And the crust: well, suffice it to say it’s the perfect combination of crunch and chew.

Baguettes, which stirato resembles, are made from a dough that’s soft and supple, but firm enough to shape easily. Stirato, on the other hand, is made from an extremely slack (wet) dough, which not only produces its large holes, but helps make that same “crispy starch” created by oven steam.

How to make crusty bread via @kingarthurflour

5. To keep bread crusty, cool baked loaves in the oven.

This may sound like an oxymoron – cool bread in the oven? – but it works. Once the bread is baked, turn off the oven. Transfer the bread from pan (or stone) to a middle oven rack. Crack the oven door open a couple of inches (a folded potholder works well here), and let it cool right in the cooling oven.

How does this help keep bread crusty? As bread cools, any leftover moisture in its interior migrates to the surface. If that moisture reaches the surface and hits cool air – e.g., typical room temperature – it condenses on the loaf’s surface, making it soggy. If it hits warm air (your still-warm oven), it evaporates – leaving the crust crisp.

How to make crusty bread via @kingarthurflour

Classic Baguettes

And here they are, the sine qua non of crusty bread: baguettes. While it’s a challenge to make “real” baguettes at home, this version is probably as close to an artisan bakery version as you’re going to find.

This isn’t a quick and easy recipe; the starter rests overnight, and the dough itself has two fairly long rises. But the effort is fairly minimal, and the result is well worth the time spent: each loaf sports a thin, light crust that shatters when you slice it. The rasp of a knife sawing through a fresh baguette is one of the most tempting sounds a crust-lover will ever hear.

Finally –

One thing I didn’t explore here is toppings or glazes. Prior to baking, do you brush your bread with a beaten egg white? How about a cornstarch/water slurry, 10 minutes before the bread is done? Fodder for a future post – stay tuned!

What’s your favorite crusty bread? And do you have any tips for attaining the ultimate crust? Please share your thoughts in comments, below.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!

comments

  1. "Anna Bucciarelli"

    This is so helpful. Have been baking bread (only with KA flour) for many years, know about steam, but I don’t have a stone or steel, too heavy for me to manage. Still, I manage a good crust but it doesn’t hold up past a few days. Still delicious tho. Any ideas?

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Crisp crusts on bread will only last for a few days, really. As they sit, they will absorb moisture from the air and become softer and chewier. You can crisp them up by placing them in a 350°F oven for 10-15 minutes. ~ MJ

    2. Peter J Stagnitta

      The bread crust doesn’t last more than a few days? DON’T MAKE SO MUCH BREAD AT A TIME!
      The day after it’s made it’s already stale, though maybe still soft enough to chew. For sure, after the second day it’s good for croutons or bread crumbs. Make it fresh every day, or make enough dough for three days but only make and bake a loaf a day. The dough may be a little sour by he third day, but that’s just another layer of flavor.

    3. Aly

      The leaner the dough, the shorter the shelf life. Eggs, honey/sugar and milk all add the the shelf life of bread. A rich bread dough, my all-purpose white bread contains honey, eggs and butter. Yes it does get a little drier toward the end of the week but I can get 5-7 days and still have the loaf fresh enough to eat as a sandwich without toasting.

    4. Erik

      Consider a pizza stone. They are ceramic a bit over a 1/4″ thick and much easier to deal with. The humidity in the air all around definitely softens even a great crust over time. I often slice off a piece or two and then drop them into the toaster for a short bit: It really helps bring that lovely crustiness back.

    5. Arlene Goldstein

      To refresh bread and get that “out of the oven” crunchy texture, I coat the crust ever so lightly with water. For a single serving, I place it in the toaster oven and simply toast it.For a larger bread do the same extremely light water glaze and place the bread in a 350 oven for 10-15 minutes as suggested by another comment .

    6. Patricia

      You can leave the pizza stone in the oven on the bottom rack. No need to lift it out when you use the oven. Mine is in there all the time.

    7. Helen G.

      Hi PJ… Any more news on Toppings and Glazes? I’ve been searching and searching for a glaze that will give you that glassy, glossy, crackly crust. Will a cornstarch/water slurry do that? Thank you.

    8. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Helen, while we haven’t posted a blog on toppings/glazes for breads yet, we do have some helpful updates for you! We explored the different results of brushing pie crust with milk, water, a whole egg wash, an egg white, and melted butter in comparison to a plain (naked) crust. We posted the results in an article you can read here. While these toppings may behave slightly differently on bread, the relative results will be comparable. Hope that helps! Kye@KAF

    9. Linda Kinczel

      I followed exactly for crusty bread and when I took it out of cooled oven it was soft. Very disappointed

    10. The Baker's Hotline

      Linda, there are a few tips that might help your crust stay crispier next time. Try taking the internal temperature of your bread to ensure it reaches the right temperature (which varies based on what kind of bread you’re making—call our hotline for more details). Checking the temperature will ensure it’s fully baked when you turn the oven off. It’s also possible that your bread softened due to the humidity, if that sounds like it could make sense for your climate. Try using more steam at the beginning of the bake, and bake it a little darker next time. Lastly, check your oven temperature to make sure it’s reading correctly, and never store your crusty bread in plastic. Leave it in an open paper bag to prevent it from getting soft. We hope this helps! Kye@KAF

  2. Gloria S.

    Thank you so much! I have been successful in making gluten free french bread but it became soft when cooling. So I know now to cool it in the oven for the crust to stay crispy : )

    Reply
  3. Carolyn

    One of my favorite memories from my days as a travel agent is a meal in a Caribbean island hotel or restaurant and the crispy, crackly rolls that were served. They were wonderful. I’ve looked at your recipe for hard rolls but I now live alone and I can’t eat that many rolls before they become bird food and I don’t have room in the freezer to store them. So I do without but a post like this gets my taste buds revved up – again! 🙁 But thanks, PJ, for reminding me of those wonderful ‘working’ days!

    Reply
  4. Amy

    While I’m schlepping in a rental (without either the permanence or money for a good stone or steel), I’ve found that the metal trays that came with my oven in addition to the standard wire racks are a lot better than nothing for crisp bottom crusts. I shape my bread on parchment or its floured towel and preheat the metal tray along with the oven, then just slide the parchment onto the tray and listen to the bread sizzle a bit as the bottom meets hot metal. By the time the loaf is done, the bottom crust is dark brown and just as good as the top. I imagine that pre-heating an old, hefty metal sheet pan might provide a similar effect for other folk who have to work without the better options.

    Reply
    1. Kevin C

      Hi Amy- Next time you drive by a big box home improvement store- stop in and go to the tile section. Pre-measure your oven racks, and you’ll find a wide array of un-glazed floor tiles you can arrange to completely cover the rack. Works like a charm- buy a few extras as they will crack, but at a dollar or two apiece, who cares? (Easier to store than a big pizza stone, too, tho as someone else pointed out here- they can be left in the oven full time- they make a great heat sink.)

  5. Patricia Mear

    I manage to keep my homemade crusty bread crisp by standing the bread upright on the cut end, uncovered, on my bread board. My grandmother did this and it maintains the integrity of both the crust and the interior better than any contraption or method I’ve tried. (Of course I use KA flour for everything.)

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Grandmothers always have the best tricks! Thanks for sharing, Patricia! I’ll be giving this a try with my next homemade loaf. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

    2. Ellen

      I’ve tried setting the loaf on the cut end but, around here, that attracts ants and the bread is very unappetizing after that. Maybe if I put the loaf in an airy bag that they use for vegetables in the ‘fridge……….

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Patricia, it’s tricky to create a crusty loaf of bread from your bread machine because that desirable texture comes from a long, slow fermentation period and also a steaming effect while the bread bake. However, you can try to “steal” the tip about letting the bread cool in the machine by using the warming setting after the bake has completed and then shutting the machine off and leaving the bread to cool in the bucket. Also, you can try using bread flour in your recipe–the higher protein content may give you a crispier exterior and chewier interior that you are looking for.

      For additional tips on how to improve your bread machine breads, check out our blog Successful Loaves from your Bread Machine. I hope this gives you some things to try with your next loaf! Kye@KAF

  6. Janet

    I bake sourdough bread in my clay bread baker and it comes out with this beautiful crusty exterior.
    But how to store it for those few days until it’s gone?
    If I put it in plastic wrapper it gets soft, but if I keep it in a paper sack it gets hard enough for croutons!
    The instructor who taught me to make this bread said to just leave it on the (wooden) cutting board, covered loosely with a towel. This too seems to allow the bread to dry too much.
    Is there a way to keep that nice crust, yet have the inside soft enough to chew?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      If you are particular about the texture of your bread, it may be worth investing in a bread keeper. It spans the gap of that too-hard/too-soft conundrum that often occurs when dealing with homemade bread. A personal favorite is our expandable bread keeper with its clear sides and adjustable vent to control how hard/soft you want your bread to be. The more air you let in, the crispier the crust will get. In the mean time, you can try experimenting by slicing your bread and storing it in the fridge or freezer and then reheating in a toaster before serving. If done properly, the bread can taste almost as good as fresh out of the oven with this method! Good luck and happy baking! Kye@KAF

    2. Sabine Applegate

      When using a clay baker, is the oven cold or pre-heated? Does the loaf raise in the baker and then go in the oven or is it inverted and put in the cold/hot clay baker? Is the clay baker soaked in water before use?

    3. The Baker's Hotline

      Sabine, sounds like you might benefit from our Long Covered Baker blog, which explains how to make the most beautiful loaves of bread using this pan. You don’t need to soak this pan. You can put it into a hot (up to 450°F) or a cold oven, depending on what kind of results you want. Either way, you’ll want to let the dough rise right in the baker itself. For more details, check out the full blog post. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  7. Nancy Lea

    I would assume that baking my ‘no-knead” bread in my Dutch Oven accomplishes the same “steam effect” as the cloche? I LOVE to do my bread this way, but, the only problem is that I want to eat the whole thing LOL. In my student days in Paris, we’d always have to buy TWO baguettes because, as my friends and I meandered home, we’d be nibbling at the bread and one would be mostly GONE by the time we reached our destination. (Given our tight budgets, fresh baguettes were about the only treats we could afford! (OTOH, we all got really good at tasty cheap meals, including steaming mussels with potatoes over a one-burner gas canister. Enough mussels to feed two or three or us, depending on where the mussels came from, could be had for a couple of francs, sometimes less!!)

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Sure, your dutch oven will do the exact same thing. I use mine alllll the time to make lovely, crisp breads. Jon@KAF

  8. M.

    Thanks, PJ, for this great tutorial. The statement, ” don’t force them beyond their comfort zone, because therein lies disappointment” will be my guide. What a pithy remark, yet one that will save me untold baking regret! Woo-hoo! I’m off to bake. Have a lovely day, PJ.

    Reply
  9. magroves

    Are any of these tips applicable to GF Breads? I do miss the crispy crusty outside of bread but I find GF Baking is very difficult as far as crust and also rising. I am guessing it is the GLuten that promotes rising and crustiness.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Most won’t as gluten free breads generally contain eggs, sugar and fat (all of which will tenderize your bread). This means that they fall under category #1 and just won’t get crisp or stay crisp. Jon@KAF

  10. Helen

    I notice you mentioned a “homemade peel”. How do you make that? These look really good. Anxious to give it a try.

    Reply
  11. Roiy

    I just read this email and by the time I was finished my mouth was watering for crusty bread. I spent a week trying to develop a sour dough starter and tried making a couple of loaves which were pretty much a disaster. So I think I will try this “crusty” route and pray for the best. You supplied a lot of great tips which I hope my old mind will remember as I venture into this crusty world… wish me luck. I will try to give you a follow up; hopefully positive. Thank you KA.

    Reply
    1. MegaFoodSci

      Find someone near you with a reliable sourdough starter and ask for some of theirs; sourdoughers are notoriously evangelical about their little pet and it would probably make their week to get you all set up with some starter and advice!

  12. Jeannie

    I have tried your baguette recipe twice, following the directions exactly (I think!!) but neither time has the interior of the bread turned out with the airy pockets that make it so good. It looks more like regular bread with a more tight density. Any suggestions?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Baguettes are one of the harder breads to perfect. Make sure your dough is slack and minimize the amount of kneading time for the dough. Patience and practice will eventually result in lovely holes. Jon@KAF

  13. Kate

    How long would you let baguettes cool in the oven? Wouldn’t they still cook quite a bit, especially in an oven with a hot baking stone in it. Maybe cook for a shorter time before doing this, or just leave it in the cooling oven for maybe 10 minutes to avoid overcooking?

    Thanks,

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Pretty much until they are cool to the touch, Kate. You will want to keep your oven door open and move the loaves off of the stone. They should not over bake using this method. Jon@KAF

  14. jtee4short

    Oh how I love edible science! And you ended on a cliffhanger! I can’t wait to find out about this “cornstarch/water slurry”!

    Reply
  15. Catherine Donaldson

    Around 6/3 I received my shipment with the sour dough crock pot and starter. I noticed the date on the starter was the same day as I got the shipment so I called right away and asked if it would still work with it being the expired date. I was told that it should be no problem. I made it per directions, it rose beautifully and I have been feeding it each time I pull some out for baking or at least once a week. I don’t make a lot of bread, one to two loaves a week and rolls thrown in, because there are only two of us. Each time I make a loaf or rolls, it still has just a faint hint of sour dough. What should I do or is it the starter is not strong enough?
    I even added it to the No-knead recipe of which I also have questions. I was not sure how much starter to exchange for water, so I added 1 1/2 cups starter and the rest of the water 1 1/2 cups. Way to hard to even mix so I added another cup of water, still terribly hard to mix so wet my hand and kept trying to work in water. I did not want to handle it too much but it just would not mix in the flour. I used the 6 1/2 cups of flour dip method. It rose pretty well but no way to pull off a ball, so I cut off a chunk and rolled into a long roll and baked. The sour dough taste was still mild. It was tasty but tough. I cut in 4th and by the second and 3 loaf, it still did not pick up a sour dough flavor. We are talking about 2 weeks gone by at this point.
    My questions are how much starter should I use for the no-knead recipe or any type of bread and when it is not a true sour dough recipe and is my sour dough ok. How do I make it have a flavor of sour dough. I don’t like strong sour dough flavor but want to tell a difference from white bread.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      A rough guide would be about 25% of the recipe could be starter. To use the starter, one cup of starter is made of 4 ounces of water and 4 ounces (one cup) of flour. Subtract those amounts from the flour and liquid listed in the recipe. It’s a reasonable starting point. Our new blog post deals with many of your questions: bit.ly/1PiAtdU Happy baking! Laurie@KAF

    2. Elizabeth

      Hi Catherine!
      I have a few thoughts on your sourdough bread questions. I have never bought an already made starter, but have started my own several times. Are you keeping it in the fridge or on the counter? I have tried keeping mine in the fridge before, but it is never as sour and strong as when it lives on the counter, so I leave mine out all the time unless I go away for a while. Is it bubbly and sour smelling? It should be…..if not, then it probably is not really active. If your starter is good and sour then your bread will be, too. I feed mine a half cup each of flour and water every day, and my bread is very nice and sour. I would recommend trying that. The bread I usually make uses 4 cups of starter and makes two loaves. I started with using a recipe, but have kind of changed it over the years and now just make it by memory and intuition, adding whatever I like. 🙂 Sometimes I want a sweeter bread, like oatmeal molasses or something, so I just add a cup or so of starter to a basic dough with oatmeal, molasses, and some butter. It works just fine! To us, bread made with no sourdough tastes pretty bland. I put it in our waffles, pancakes, biscuits, etc. as well. 🙂 Try following your intuition with bread making instead of a recipe. If you have down the basics of yeast, water, flour, salt ratios, and you know how a bread dough should feel, you can pretty much ad lib and turn out lovely, unique breads tailored to your taste! It is so much fun and more relaxing to me, than trying to follow a recipe to the letter. I love to read recipes to glean ideas and tips, and then apply them to my baking. Just ideas. I hope maybe one of them will help you! Best of wishes with your starter. If all else fails, just start your own. It couldn’t be easier or more fun!

    3. PJ Hamel , post author

      Elizabeth, thanks for summing up so much that’s creative and just plain fun about baking – especially baking with sourdough. Baking is as much art as science; you DO have to nail some of the science before you can “let your inner artist shine,” and a lot of that knowledge comes through practice and experience – and you clearly have that in spades. We appreciate you sharing here. PJH

    4. Jo-Ann

      I made my first (and only) sourdough starter two summers ago, and I’m still using it. It took 10 or so days to get it to the point where it was really bubbly and active, plus there is some effort involved with monitoring it, throwing starter out, adding fresh flour and water, etc. etc., but once it got going, holy cow, I couldn’t kill it with an axe. I keep mine in the fridge because if I don’t, it will explode out of its container. Also, my husband doesn’t like a very ‘sour’ dough, so I adjust it to his taste. If I wanted a more sour taste, I’d take what I wanted out of the starter and leave that portion out for a day or so before using it. As it is, I use it directly out of the fridge, replacing what I use with a 50% flour and water ratio, by weight.. For example, I’d replace a 2 cups of starter weighing roughly 700 gms with 350 gms of flour and 350 gms, of water. This is where the metric system is so great – 350 mls of water weights 350 gms.

      I digress. I use a variation of the ‘no knead’ recipe to make whole grain sandwich loaves. These turn out with a nice tight grain like you would see in a sandwich bread versus an artisan bread. I use loaf pans to bake them. The trick is getting the feel of how wet your dough needs to be (before you let it rise overnight). For sandwich loaves, you don’t want quite as wet a dough as you would with the ‘boule’ shaped loaves you bake in a covered dish. What has worked for me is to use 4 cups of whole grain bread flour (per loaf), 1/2 cup sourdough starter, 1/4 tsp yeast, proofed in about 1/2 cup of warmish water, 1 1/2 tsp of salt, and optionally some cooked whole grains, flax seed, honey (all of which are not necessary, but nice). Then take your 4 cup pyrex measuring cup, add your proofed yeast (in water), your 1/2 cup starter, cooked grains, honey, whatever, then make up the difference to get to about 2 1/2 cups of liquid. Mix your two cups of flour and salt, then add the liquid. You’ll have a really really wet dough, almost like a batter. I use my Kitchenaid with a regular cake beater thing for this, but you could do this by hand. Beat it for about 30 seconds, then add your last two cups of flour and beat until blended. Depending on humidity, it might be too much flour, too little flour or just perfect, but you can tweak it with a bit of water or additional flour. You want a dough that is kind of wet, maybe a BIT sticky but not glue-like.

      I put this mix in a 4 litre ice cream pail closed up with the fitted lid. Leave it overnight on the counter (the 18 hour rule is good here). It will grow. Next day, gently scrape the dough out of it’s container and dump on to a dampened countertop. ‘Stretch and Fold’ a couple of times (look this technique up – it is brilliant), let rest a couple of minutes, then shape into loaves, place in loaf pans and Bob’s your uncle. I bake mine for 10 minutes at 425, then reduce to 375 for 30 minutes or so. Internal temperature of the bread should be about 190-200 degrees F. This is so easy and if you use your bread for sandwiches, toast, whatever, you end up with the right shape. Also, if you don’t have time to make the bread the next day, just stick in in the fridge. I’ve left the dough several days before baking, just make sure to take it out well ahead of when you plan to bake so it has time to warm up to room temp.

      Long winded, but I hope it helps1

  16. haha

    Any “tricks” to keep the top crust from separating from the rest of the loaf? That’s too much of a “hole”!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Check that the bread is properly covered with plastic of in a moist proof box for the final rise. When the top crust is dry before it goes int the oven, it can separate. Happy baking! Laurie@KAF

  17. Mary Lou Musselman

    I have baked our family’s bread for more than fifty years. On a few occasions, I have held mini classes to teach others the art of making yeast bread. Today, I read your tutorial on baking crusty loaves. I can’t tell you how good it makes this old dog feel to discover it’s not too late to learn a few new tricks. I especially appreciate knowing why those tricks work. Thank you; Thank you.
    those tricks work

    Reply
  18. Jan

    My problem is that I can’t get the dough to rise. I admit to having a cool house so have tried using a warm oven and the microwave after boiling water in it but nothing seems to work. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      You might want to try a proof box- and to test your yeast to be sure it is still active! Happy baking-Laurie@KAF

  19. Rob Jacobs

    Great information as always. These are the sorts of bread I am learning to bake and want to be able to confidently make every time so naturally I gobbling up as much information that I can get. Retiring from professional cooking has not kept me away from the stove and I want to be good at baking bread now that I have the time to do it. Cheers from Australia.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Gluten free breads usually contain tenderizing ingredients like dairy, fat and sugar. You won’t have much luck with a crispy crust! Happy baking! Laurie@KAF

  20. David Winer

    What a great review of techniques to obtain crisp crust. So many recipes tell what to do but don’t explain why. I’ve always wondered “why” about so many things mentioned in these discussions and suddenly find the answers all in one place. Many thanks.

    Reply
  21. Trimu

    Just made my first dough for this wonderful crusty bread, now sitting in my fridge, will cook it tomorrow, wish me luck!

    Reply
  22. Irene in T.O.

    Not cornstarch and water slurry but COOKED cornstarch-water glaze makes a good hard crust on lean bread. A cup of water and 2 tablespoons cornstarch and 1 teaspoon salt, boil until clear. Brush on generous coat just before baking.

    Reply
  23. Shannon

    I love your products and use them all the time. I like to store my staples in large glass, snap-top jars. Is there a problem with putting my artisan flour or my cocoa powder in them? Does the light reduce their shelf-llife?

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Hi Shannon,
      As long as you keep the jars out of direct sunlight, and in the cupboard you should be just fine. We do use clear containers in our test kitchen so we can see how much product we have in stock, but they are on shelves out of the light. ~ MJ

  24. Gerard M Ferrari

    My baguettes are very good : for 500 gr of organic flour. without acid absorbic 65 to 70/100 of source water ,10 gr of sea salt (de Guerande) deluted : 6 gr of yeast deluted in warm water for 10 mn : First prep , 4 hours ,refrigerator for 36 hours, second prep 2 hours bake at 530 for 10 mn and 12 mn at 490 . The real baguettes artisanal are time conssuming but they are delicious
    They will be perfect if I had some T 65 flour

    Reply
  25. Elwin

    Another trick to getting steam in the oven is to simply throw a few ice cubes into the bottom when you first put your bread in.

    Reply
    1. george jadoon

      ELWIN
      FANTASTIC IDEA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      CAN HARDLY WAIT TO USE ON MY NEXT BREAD BAKE.
      OUTSTANDING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Linda, it’s on this blog post at the top. It’s under the first photo, written in orange. Or you can search for it in our recipe section of our website. Bryanna@KAF

  26. Lucy

    Making bread and smelling it cooking is the stuff that dreams are made of! We love the smell of newly baked bread and the thought of warm crusty bread to spread peanut butter and butter on is just too much to resist! We’ll be making some tonight!!

    Reply
  27. Lin

    I’ve never made crusty bread before, but I want to make a number of loaves to give out as presents this Christmas. If I freeze them after cooling in oven, will they still be crunchy after they are thawed? Thanks much for any advice you can give.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Lin, it’s true that loaves tend to lose some of their crustiness while they thaw after being frozen. To help with this, you can put a cute gift tag on the loaves saying who they’re too and from, as well as quick note to put the loaves in a 350°F oven for about 5-10 minutes before serving to help re-crisp the crust. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  28. Antoinette Vanderpool

    I went to the local hard were store and purchased a unglazed, totally “naked” stepping stone (for the yard) and use that which gives a “decent” crust . Was this okay ? Or is it dangerous for some reason unknown to me ? H E L P & thank you 👱

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We understand the impulse, Antoinette, but the problem with re-purposing something that’s not designed for use in the kitchen is that you have no idea what’s contained in the clay mixture. Since there’s no guarantee that the material(s) is food-safe, we really can’t recommend it. Mollie@KAF

  29. Bob

    In the blog under classic bagette you state – “This isn’t a quick and easy recipe; the starter rests overnight, and the dough itself has two fairly long rises. But the effort is fairly minimal, and the result is well worth the time spent: ”

    But where is the recipe. I have read the entire blog and can’t wait to try out your ideas, but it would be a lot easier with the recipe.

    Hope you can help

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We can help, Bob! Clicking on the words “Crusty Baguette” will take you right to the recipe page. You can also click here to get there. Happy baking! Mollie@KAF

  30. Zazzi

    I understand that home bake breads are best eaten that day for best crusty crust. Can you make a couple of batches and then freeze the baguettes at the ready stage to be baked at a later date, how how would you bake from freeze?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Good question, Zazzi. Rather than freezing completely unbaked dough, which might not rise or have the same structure if frozen, we’d recommend freezing par-baked baguettes. Go ahead and bake them most of the way so that the structure fully sets, but pull them out about 5 minutes early, when they’re still lighter in color. Once they’re fully cooled, wrap them up airtight and freeze. When you’re ready to serve the baguettes, pop them back into the oven for 5-10 minutes to defrost, crisp up, and more fully brown. Hope this helps! Mollie@KAF

  31. John S Majcher

    Regarding baking steels, if they’re too heavy you could always have it precision cut in half and edges ground smooth to fit together. That way it’s more manageable. Too, you could have an oval hole cut in each piece to serve as a handle.

    Metal fabrication shops can make them for you out of A36 steel, if you so choose.

    Reply

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