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I had recently started baking bread and I have read up a lot on developing a great crust. Generally it involves steam in the oven at the beginning of the baking process, high even heat and etc.

I noticed something that I have not read about and was hoping someone can confirm it.

I noticed that when I added extra virgin olive oil, I developed a much nicer crust then when I made a much leaner bread that did not have any fats in it. Does the oil really affect how my crust develops, or do you think its a different factor that gave my bread a better crust. If it is the EVOO, why does it give my bread a better crust.

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1 Answer 1

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Oil definitely changes the crust, and whether or not it's "better" depends on what you're going for. Oil in the dough tends to give a softer and thicker crust, while a lean dough tends to give a crisper and thinner crust. Other dough ingredients that tenderize include milk and eggs, and there are plenty of web pages listing "dough enhancers" that give various effects. Again, it all depends on what type of crust and crumb you want.

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The leaner dough yields pale soft crust while the bread with EVOO yielded browned crust. At least for my three experimental breads that I've baked. The first time I baked it without, and it was white and ugly. The second time I added oil and it came out brown and beautiful. And the third time I went for a really high hydration and no oil and it was pale crust again. –  Jay Apr 20 '12 at 22:30
    
What temperature are you baking at? When the loaf is pale, is the crumb fully cooked? –  amcnabb Apr 20 '12 at 22:49
    
I preheat the oven at 500F, with a steam pan. After preheating, I add 1 cup of water to steam pan and lower temp to 450. The crumb is fully cooked and perfect inside. –  Jay Apr 20 '12 at 22:56
    
If you want the crust to be darker but everything else the same, try raising the temperature by 50F. –  amcnabb Apr 21 '12 at 13:49
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