Ok, this post is going to be less about a bread recipe and more about how you can get your home oven to mimic that of a professional bakery. Cause that’s what we all want right? Bread at home that has that magic crust that seems to only come from professionals… No worries. I got you! With just this little tip you can start banging out some crusty loaves.
Make it steamy!
Yep. That is pretty much it. If you want to enhance your bread’s crust game you gotta get things steamy. There is a couple ways you can do this:
Dutch Oven Method
I use this method a lot cause it’s almost a guaranteed win every single time. Baking bread in a dutch oven allows the moisture from the dough to get trapped while baking, creating that steamy environment that gives you that crispy crust. I bake the dough for about 30 minutes with the lid on and then remove it for the last 15 minutes. I won’t go into too much detail now but if you want to explore this method you can find a recipe with some instructions right here.
Pan With Water Method
Now, for those of you that don’t have a dutch oven, there is still hope. Crispy crust can easily be achieved by adding a pan with some water in it that you will remove midway through baking. I like to use a baking dish with about an inch of water in it. You don’t want too much water though because you want to easily and safety remove it from the oven come time. I add the pan/dish of water when I preheat the oven so it’s good and steamy by the time I’m ready to start baking. Pretty simple really.
The last thing I’ll say about the crust is to get creative when when you score the top. Scoring is the design you slice into the top and it frequently confused for an important step in the baking process. I’m here to tell, that’s not really the case. Scoring allows for a bit more rise from a dough while baking in the oven but mostly its more personality than anything. You can use a razor blade or serrated knife to add some slash marks just before placing it in the oven and you are good to go. And in case you need some inspiration for this, just check out Sarah C. Owen’s Instagram page for some beautiful ideas. She is a queen when it comes to all things bread and scoring skills are on point!
- 3 cups flour (plus more for kneading)
- 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- In a large bowl stir together the dry ingredients.
- Then add the milk.
- Mix together with a spoon until a sticky dough forms and then cover and let it rest on the counter for 6 to 8 hours. (I know that sounds odd but seriously, just cover and forget about it for the day or overnight.)
- After the long rest you'll notice the dough has grown into a a loose blob of dough.
- Sprinkle some flour onto your counter and then tip the dough out of the bowl, carefully assisting it as necessary.
- Sprinkle a bit more flour on top of the dough and begin to work it with your hands, adding more flour as necessary to keep it from sticking to your hands.
- Slowly begin to knead the dough, continueing to add flour as necessary.
- Knead for roughly 5 to 10 minutes.
- Shape the dough in an oblong loaf and place it into a greased bread pan.
- Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about and hour.
- Preheat your oven to 450 degress and place a pan with about an inch of water on a low shelf in your oven.
- After the dough has rested for an hour and about doubled in size, remove the wrap and score the top of your loaf and then immediately place it in the hot steamy oven.
- Then, immediately turn the oven down to 375 degress and bake for 25 minutes.
- After 25 minutes, carefully remove the pan of water and continue to bake for another 15 minutes.
- Remove the bread from the oven, release it from the bread pan and let cool on a wire rack.
And just in case you need a new mixing spoon in your life, I just finished this one:
Ok friends, go bake and let me know how your crust turns out, especially if you use the pan with water method. Happy Full Moon!