Bread crust... why can't I achieve that rustic look?
I've tried baking bread several times in the past and have recently started to try and up my game. I followed the bread making lessons to a T and still ended up with an unsatisfactory crust. How do I achieve that nice rich brown flaky crust that I see in the video and in professional loaves?
What I've done so far to achieve a better crust:
-Used only fresh high-quality bread flour of at least 12g protein per 100g
-Monitored the fermenting and proofing stage as instructed in the video and utilized the finger test to ensure my loaf was ready.
-Spritzed the loaf with water and spritzed the bottom of the oven with water to add humidity.
-Attempted to bake loaves under, at, and above recommended temperatures.
No matter what I try it seems like the crust dries out almost instantly once it's in the oven and it turns a pale almost complete white and hardens up. If I leave the loaf in the oven I can get a light blond color eventually after 20 or 30 minutes of baking, if left in longer I can get it to a light brown but the exterior is almost entirely smooth instead of being that nice crunchy flaky texture.
Do I need a baking stone? Hotter temperatures? Different flour?
Help! No matter what I do I can't produce good crust.