Ruminations on bread...
1. Softer bread is the result of adding fat to the dough. By adding 10 to 15 percent of fat to the dough, you get a softer loaf. This is why there is Olive Oil bread from Italy.
2. Milk leads to a softer bread crumb as well, thus milk and butter in a dough is going to give you soft white bread. The combination of milk and fat gives up American white bread.
3. A moist bread surface gives you a thinner crumb/crust, so most commercial operations use a steam injection oven. You can spray the top of your loaf with water to retard the crust in a similar fashion.
4. Steam is still your friend, I like to put a cast iron skillet into the oven, and preheat the entire thing. Then, when the bread goes in, I throw 5 or 6 ice cubes in the cast iron skillet and close the door, instant steam injection. Once is enough for that.
5. For loaves, generally, a light colored pan yields a light colored side and bottom crust, a dark colored pan yields a darker crust. Hence, commercial cake pans are almost always tinned aluminum or steel, the light tin color leads to pale cakes.
I'm feeling bearish, and I'm packing a Wusthof Grand Brisket slicer from MABA
"perhaps...but then again...maybe not..."