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Sep 23, 2007 11:22 PM

Bread baking question

How do I get a hard crust to the french bread I've been making. Love the taste but hate the soft crust. Tried putting in a pan of water to steam it (read that somewhere) but did'nt help. What's the answer?

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  1. Make the no knead bread! Do a search on the New York Times site to find the original articles about it, and there are lots and lots of posts here about it. Great taste and nice crunchy crust.

    1. I'm guessing you're making baguettes, or is it some other shape?

      Tell us what you're doing with your oven technique first: temps / baking stone or not / baking pans or not.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Professor Salt

        Actually, its my husband who is making the bread. I think the oven temp is 350. No baking stone. He puts it on a cookie sheet. Baguette style.

        1. re: shaebones

          I have found that you need the very hot stone to get a great crust.

          I pre-heat my oven to 475F to get a good heat sink in the stone, and then lower the temp to 350K just before I slide the bread in. I prefer to shape the bread on a piece of parchment that I can sacrifice to the baking gods, as I can never get bread to reliably slide off a mealed peel.
          A few mists of water as you close the door helps, as will as baking to a intenal tempo of 210F.

          If there is any fat (oils, butter or egg wash) in the recipe, you will also find it impossible to get a great crackly crunch.

          1. re: Kelli2006

            I was just going to add that about the hot stone. I also have the dough on parchment paper (cut about an inch longer than the dough, with a little extra on one end so I can grab it) and slide it onto the stone that's been in the oven the half hour I preheated it.

      2. The no knead bread is a great way to get a crust--baking it in an enclosed container. When I've used water for steam, I preheat the oven to 500 for half an hour w/ a cast iron skillet. Then, when I put the dough in, I pour in two cups of boiling water into the cast iron skillet.

        Here's a recipe for the no knead bread. Worth trying for so little effort and great bread:

        1 Reply
        1. re: chowser

          yes it is important that the water is boiling, not cold, when you add it to the pan in the oven, & that the oven is preheated. could this be part of the problem?

        2. I'm thinkin' that temperature is not right. Try putting a pan of water on a rack under the rack where the dough will be put at the time you turn the oven on to heat up. Heat the oven at about 425. This will fill the oven with steam. Then put the dough in to bake for about 10 minutes at that temperature, then turn it down to about 375.

          1 Reply
          1. re: yayadave

            I agree with Dave about the temp and the steam. Here's a link to a bread baking site I love...

          2. Get a spray bottle and fill with water. Spritz water in the oven just before putting in the bread. Close the door. Place bread in oven. During the first 7-8 minutes of baking, spray the bread and oven lightly, 3 times.
            This will ensure a nice crust.