There are few things in life that warm the soul better than a crusty loaf of fresh-baked bread. Great homemade bread with a crisp exterior and soft, chewy interior is always a winner but with more people staying at home and baking for themselves these days artisan breads have become more popular than ever.
Use this guide as a refresher on how to make the perfect loaf of crusty bread, including tips on how to create steam – the key to crusty bread – with or without a dutch oven. And find a simple crusty bread recipe that you can use as a springboard for your culinary creativity. It’s so simple and versatile it will have you looking like a serious artisan by the time your next loaf comes out of the oven.
HOW TO MAKE GREAT CRUSTY BREAD
Because there are so few ingredients in crusty breads, it’s essential to use the best ingredients possible. All-Purpose Flour will work for a crusty bread but using Bread Flour can help create a stronger, chewier bread.
STEAM – CRUSTY BREAD’S BEST FRIEND
The ideal way to create crusty bread is by creating steam in your range or wall oven. As bread bakes starches on its surface burst and eventually harden, forming a crispy crust. This is facilitated when steam comes in contact with the baking bread’s surface. Baking crusty bread without steam may cook the bread too quickly, creating a burnt, dense bread. There are several ways to create steam in your oven – let’s take a look at three of the most popular – a dutch oven, a spray bottle or a water bath.
1. DUTCH OVEN
2. SPRAY BOTTLE
3. WATER BATH
TIPS FOR KEEPING BREAD CRISP AFTER IT’S BAKED
After your bread is baked you’ll want to limit its exposure to moisture as this is the enemy of baked artisan bread. Many bakers like to leave their bread in the oven to cool after it’s baked. Just turn off your oven, remove your bread from its pan to a middle rack and crack the oven door open. This will keep any leftover moisture from moving to the bread’s surface and mingling with room temperature air which can condense on the bread, creating a soggy crust. The warm air in the cooling oven will just evaporate and your crust will stay crunchy.
Avoid wrapping your artisan bread after it’s baked to prevent trapping moisture on the baked bread’s surface. Just store it cut side down on the counter top or a breadboard for a day or so to keep it at its crispy best.
YOUR “GO-TO” CRUSTY BREAD RECIPE
Sourdough breads are all the rage right now and in addition to a few basic ingredients, this Sourdough Bread Loaf recipe only requires sourdough starter, a KitchenAid® Stand Mixer, a Sifter+Scale Attachment and a dutch oven to create a bakery worthy, crusty sourdough loaf. And this recipe for delicious No Knead Italian Semolina Bread calls for rosemary but the dough is basic enough to accommodate other herbs or flavorings. Just think of this recipe as a blank canvas. It will take all the creativity you throw at it and suddenly that basic bread recipe isn’t so basic anymore.
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