Many great styles of bread have fantastically chewy crusts which can seem difficult at first to replicate at home. The secret is steam. Commercial ovens use steam injection which home ovens lack.
But there is a cheap and easy way to get those chewy crusts at home – air charged plant misters. Unlike the hand pumped sprayers and misters the air charged ones see you pump the air/water bladder with air and then when the trigger is pressed releases a large volume of fine mist. Compared to the hand pumped versions you get more volume and a finer spray.
There are a number of variants on the style, but the one I use and Iike is the Spraymate which I also see marketed as the Eco-Sprayer. It comes as the spray unit alone and sees you use a soda bottle as the reservoir. I picked it up from Princess Auto (the Canadian version of Harbor Freight), but it’s also available from Amazon for $11 or Lapond though I see it’s priced there for $14 which is about three times what I paid for mine.
To make those great chewy crusts I preheat the oven to temperature, charge up the mister, quickly open the door and quickly mist the interior of the oven. Then I allow a minute or two for the oven to come back to temperature open the door again slide in the sheet with the bread and do a second misting of the interior of the oven. While you could open up the oven later and mist again I usually don’t bother.
The result, awesome chewy crusts on things like baguettes and sourdough loaves every bit as good as that which you’d get from a professional bakery but for a fraction of the price and without ever having to leave home.