While some prefer their loaf of bread to have a crunchy crust, you may be among those that prefer bread with a softer crust.
So, how to make bread with a soft crust? The way the crust comes out depends on a variety of factors. For instance, the recipe you use for the making of bread will also determine the type of crust that comes out. Another good way to get a soft crust is to use steam when baking.
French baguettes, for example, are made to come out with a thick and crispy crust. This is their charm, so the recipe is made to provide this kind of result.
But, even if you use a recipe for a soft crust, leaving the bread for too long in the oven may dry the crust too much and make it hard instead of soft.
Of course, getting the dough out of the oven too soon is not recommended either, as the middle of the bread can remain unbaked.
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If you are baking in a regular oven or an electric one you can use steam in order to soften the crust. If your electric oven has a steam option, use it after you placed the loaf inside. 10 minutes of steam, in the beginning, will do the trick.
Are you using a regular oven with no fancy steam option? No problem. Do like this. Boil some water beforehand and after you place the loaf inside the oven pour the boiled water in a tray in the oven. I usually let it there until the bread is ready. It will make steam that will soften the crust.
Be very careful with the boiled water so you will not burn yourself.
Paying attention to the bread dough recipe you use
As mentioned earlier, the recipe you use for making the dough can also influence the way the crust comes out. So, if you like a particular recipe, but you don’t enjoy the thick crust it forms, then there isn’t much you can do about it.
Unfortunately, you cannot have the desired type of bread and soft crust all the time. In order to get that soft crust, you will have to change the recipe, opting for one that provides a soft crust right from the start.
If the type of bread is made to come out with a thick crust, it is hard to change this aspect, if the recipe is not changed or adjusted.
What makes a bread come up with softer crusts? The ingredient that leads to a softer crust is actually the fat added to the dough, during its preparation.
Callah or brioche are two types of bread with a higher content of fat and soft crust, so this is the kind of dough you should have in mind.
Whether we are talking about plain sunflower oil, olive oil, or any kind of oil, the amount of fat in bread dough will determine its softness, on the outside and inside as well.
However, this doesn’t mean you can just add more oil to a French baguette recipe. It won’t work this way and you risk getting a loaf of bread with a thick crust and rather fatty core.
You should aim at obtaining a softer and moister dough
In order to enjoy a softer crust, you should also do your best for your loaf of bread to come up with a thinner crust. For this, you should not make the dough hard and dry.
Add sufficient liquids to the dough, besides the fat content we talked about earlier. This meant incorporating a proper amount of water into the dough as well.
How much water is recommended? This depends very much on the recipe you are using. The main idea is to obtain a soft and elastic dough.
As a tip, you should leave adding the oil last. This is a piece of advice for those that go for manual kneading the bread dough.
Those using bread machines to prepare their homemade bread should follow the selected recipe, as all ingredients go inside the machine at once.
Thus, this is why it is important to find an adequate recipe, which can deliver the kind of bread you prefer and enjoy the most.
When you add the oil last, you will help the dough get its shape better, without adding more flour to the mixture. Many add more flour as they knead the dough, with the purpose of making it less sticky.
It is said that once the dough stops sticking to your hand so much, the dough is kneaded right. But, by adding more flour you will dry the dough and make it harder. So, use the oil to help get your dough off your hands and shape it easier, in spite of the fact that it is rather soft.
Keep an eye on the dough while it is in the oven
Depending on the recipe you use, you should set the timer of the oven right. If the dough bakes for too long, the crust will get too dry and, therefore, harder than you may prefer.
Be careful when using egg yolk to give your loaf of bread a beautiful color and shine. The color of the egg yolks as it bakes should be a good indicator of whether the loaf of bread is properly baked.
The bread should be ready when the egg yolk gets a beautiful golden-amber-like color. If you don’t use anything on the dough before placing it in the oven, it is easier to keep an eye on it as it bakes.
The crust should get a nice brown color. But, don’t rush in getting your bread out of the oven. If the color is still too pale, it means that the loaf of bread is not ready just yet. If you use a sufficient amount of fat, the crust will not be too thick or dry even if it gets a slightly brownish color.
Additional tricks that can soften the crust of your loaf of bread
If you want to make sure that your loaf of bread will have a soft crust, you should cover it with a clean damp towel as soon as you get it out of the oven. The crust will immediately absorb the moisture from the towel and will soften up.
Another good trick would be to introduce the still hot loaf of bread inside a plastic bag. Make sure to keep the bag closed, so that the moisture evaporating from the bread will not get out. This way, under its own temperature and moisture, the crust of the bread will soften up.
So, it is not that difficult to obtain a loaf of bread with a soft crust. You just need to find an adequate recipe and pay attention to some details, like covering the freshly baked loaf of bread with a damp towel. You may try this type of trick on recipes that produce loaves of bread with a harder crust, in order to soften it, but it is not guaranteed that this will work in every case.