A dry crust loses its crispness when water migrates into the crust. It is not clear if it is the amount of water absorbed or the water activity (aw) that leads to a loss of crispness. The hysteresis effect observed when recording a water sorption isotherm allowed us to study the effects of aw and moisture content separately. All experiments were carried out on model bread crusts made from Soissons bread flour. The effect of water content and water activity on the glass transition of model bread crusts was studied in detail using two complimentary techniques: phase transition analysis (PTA) and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR). The results were compared with sensory data and results from a puncture test, which provided data on acoustic emission and fracture mechanics during breaking of the crusts. The water content of the crust was found to be decisive for the transition point as measured by PTA and NMR. However, both water content and water activity had an effect on perceived crispness and number of force and sound peaks. From this may be concluded that the distribution of the water in the samples with a history of high water content is more inhomogeneous, which results in crispy and less crispy regions, thus making them overall more crispy than samples with the same water content but higher aw.
van Nieuwenhuijzen, N. H., Primo-Martin, C., Meinders, M. B. J., Tromp, R. H., Hamer, R. J., & van Vliet, T. (2008). Water Content or Water Activity: What Rules Crispy Behavior in Bread Crust? Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 56(15), 6432-6438. https://doi.org/10.1021/jf800522c