In my menu plan monday post, Wendy asked what the secret to crusty bread is. I still don’t have it down perfectly, but this does work well……
Ignore the temp that your recipe calls for, and preheat your oven to 450 degrees during the last rise of your bread (30-60 minutes….you want that oven good and HOT!!!!). Have a cast iron skillet preheating in there the whole time as well. When you open the oven to place your loaves in, do it as quickly as you can and fill your HOT cast iron skillet halfway with water. Close that door as fast as you can. Set your timer for 10 minutes, then spray your bread loaves with a spray bottle filled with water, again work as fast as you can and get that door closed as quickly as you can. Set your timer for another 5 minutes, and then turn the heat down to 375 degrees. Set it for another 10 minutes and spray those loaves again, close the door as quickly as possible. Another 10 minutes, check for doneness…if they are done, pull them out and don’t cover them (this traps the moisture causing the crusts to soften), if they aren’t done, spray them again and bake until done.
Hope that helps Wendy! 🙂
Also, I have found, some loaves are more conducive to crusty crusts than others. The less fat and sugar you have in a loaf, the crustier you can get the crust. If you are baking a round or baguette shaped loaf on a baking stone, it will get crustier. If you have a pizza peel and are able to preheat your baking stone as well, you will have a crustier loaf. You can also add 1/2 tsp. baking soda to your spray bottle of water, but you need to make sure you shake it well before spraying each time. I don’t care to do this because I think you can taste the baking soda (no one else in my family agrees with me though….so it could be just a me thing).