Lately I've been experimenting with steamimg methods. Before this I had been using a pan full of lava rocks, preheated with the oven, and pouring a cup of boiling water after loading the bread. It worked rather well, but the main problem was that it was really hard for me to get the oven hot enough with the rocks in --the most I could get was 230°C-- and then after I loaded the bread and poured the water there was a lot of steam immediately, but most of it vents shortly after, and the temperature droped about 20° or more, and the flame goes out so I have to reach under the burner with a lighter (wich is probably not very safe). Also, I burned my hand the last time I did it because I forgot to wear an oven mitt; so I decided it was time to look for a more efficient method and came up with this:
I plugged a plastic tube through the hole on the lid of this pressure cooker. I stuffed it with aluminum foil so that most of the steam goes through the tub, but some of it escapes through the sides, but still most of it makes its way to the oven. I insulated the last section of the tube, which goes inside the oven, with masking tape, and also cover it with a piece of cloth; and it goes in through the broiler door, beneath the flame.
I think it should work fine, I tried it before with the oven off and saw that after only a few minutes the oven is saturated with steam. And my favourite part is that with this method I can get the oven to 250°C or more and the steam doesn't cool it down at all. But when I tried baking some baguettes with it I got a very pale and thick crust. I pre-steamed for five minutes, then let it on five minutes more after loading the oven, turned the steam off and waited for 7 minutes before opening the door to vent it, then baked them for 18 min more (30 in total).
My only idea is that the paleness is due to an overproofing (they were also very flat), and that the thickness means it was too much? Maybe I should try steamming for 5 minutes and venting immediately?
I would like to know if anybody has tried this before and if they have any thoughts on why it isn't working well.