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Oven Steaming - My New Favorite Way

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SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Oven Steaming - My New Favorite Way

I have been wanting to try this method for sometime and have just been putting it off until today.  Of coarse I had to pick today, my kitchen still in some construction mode after remodeling my shower, it had leaked through on the kitchen ceiling, an appointment with a glass and mirror installer...and today is Mike's birthday, so everything is in a bit of a rush.  I baked a couple of mulitigrain loaves, and upon doing this I decided to try a new method of creating steam in my oven.  I'm convinced the only way I'm going to get steam that's not continually 'vented' out of my oven is by using this method.  This is so much easier for me..a lot less effort to create constant steam.  Pictures are worth a thousand words.


Preheated the loaf pans in my oven one or two 5 1/2" X 9 1/2" dark non-stick loaf pans...I used 2 loaf pans with 2 tightly rolled towels in each pan.


Placed 2 water soaked towels into a 6X10 Pyrex glass dish.  Microwaved them for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.  Until good and hot.


I removed a pre-heated loaf pan from the oven.  Turned my pre-heating oven onto the Bake mode.


Using Tongs I placed the hot towels into the loaf pan. Placed the pan and hot towels back into the oven


Repeated for the other loaf pan and towels.


Using a 8oz. pyrex cup, I microwaved a 1/2 cup of water until it boiled.  Poured the hot water over the two hot rolled towels in one of the loaf pans.


I then repeated for the other loaf pan.  I covered my glass door with a towel and left the pans in the oven while pouring the hot water over the towels.


More or less water can be added.  I had my towels very wet with a little water on the bottom of the pans.


The oven was pre steamed and steamed.  There was constant steam coming from the towels..  Up to 10 minutes after the pans were removed from the oven, there was still steam present, lots of it.  Photos of this steam.  It's not easy to get photos of steam but I did manage if you look closely at the photo.


This is the first time I have tried this method.  It is so much easier for me and creates that constant steam I have been after, without losing it to my venting oven...there's always steam present until the pans are removed.  I think one pan would work nicely too. 


My bread is still cooling.  Mike and I are off to enjoy the evening out.


 


            Tongs should have been included in this photo.  A couple of  large multigrain loaves was todays's baking.



               


                  Microwave heating the wet towels in a the pyrex dish


                        


 


                                                           Steaming the oven


                                    


 


                                                        Steam coming from towels, apx. 10 minutes after being removed from the oven


                                 


 


          ADDED: A little better photo.  Steam coming from the towels several minutes after being removed from the oven.


                                  As I said in the post to Larry, there is some scientific reason


why the steam vapors are not as visable in a hot oven..something I think to do with the air being hotter and so the vapors do not show like they do in cooler air...something like that!  But the steam is in the oven, even though you can't notice it as much as you do outside the oven.  I think I will try a little less steam in my next bake.


         Sylvia                                                     


 


                                                       


 


                                   


                 


                                     

Comments

rolls's picture
rolls

thanks for sharing, very creative :)

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Don't know why I didn't try this sooner...to many distractions and I haven't been baking very much lately.


Sylvia

wally's picture
wally

That may be a more effective method for us gas oven slaves than lava rocks.  The towels will retain water for a longer period, and thus even with the constant escape of steam from the vented oven, new steam is being created.  At least enough for the crucial 8 -9 minutes of initial baking.


I will give this a go on my next bake.  But just to make sure I've got it right: you're placing pyrex bread pans in the oven and preheating them.  Then steaming the towels in the microwave and placing them in the pre-heated pyrex pans and adding hot water? 


Larry

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Hi Larry,  First I soak the rolled towels under the sink faucet, lay them into a glass pyrex dish 'pyrex is microwave safe and can take the heat of the towels and catch any dripping water'.  Anything plastic might melt.  Heat the towels until really hot, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. 'I steralize my sink sponges this way, wet the sponge, sqeeze till soaking wet, but not dripping to much, and microwave it for 1 minute' same idea works for the towels, and it gets them very hot.


We get the towels usually in the automotive dept. to keep around for cleaning.  Or just use any terry towel.  Terry towels are more absorbant and hold plenty of water better than a smooth tea towel.


Then using the Tongs lift the hot, very wet towels out of the glass pyrex dish, and place them into the pre-heated metal loaf pans.  Place the pans back into the oven for the length of time you want to steam your bread.  Steam is generated the whole time, as long as the pans/towels stay in the oven you will have steam coming from them...I add about 1/2 cup more boiling water, poured on top of the towels just as soon as they are placed into the  hot metal pans.  The pyrex cup of water can also be heated to boiling in the microwave.  You have continuous steam, until the pans are removed.


Preheating the metal pans.  They can be placed in the hot oven a few minutes before your ready to bake, this way your oven is also pre-steamed, the metal loaf pans heat up quickly.  It's not necessary to leave them in from the beginning of your oven being preheated.  Remove them just while placing the hot towels into them.


 


I preheat my oven, stone and pans with convection.  When I steam, I turn off the convection and set the oven on regular bake, back again to convection after steaming is completed and the pans are removed. 


No splashing or heavy pans to lift.  It works great, especially when there is no way to get around ovens constantly venting.


The steam is not visable rising from the pans/towels, when they are in the oven.  When you remove them from the oven, that's when you see all the steam, vaporizing and rising into the air. ADDED: There is a scientific explanation for this..a scientist will have to explain why you do not see the steam in the oven :)


Sylvia

nova's picture
nova

Sylvia, one of the regular TFL bloggers (I think David618??) mentioned the wet towels in the pan approach several months ago.  I tried and never turned back....BUT U R adding a couple of improvements that I will try....I always put the wet towels/pans in the oven and wait for them to "warm up" so I can add boiling water...but using the microwave to get the wet towels very hot, transfer to oven and add the boiling water is even better.


I keep my steaming pans in the oven for 15 minutes before removing...constant steady steam and nothing too dangerous to handle apart from removing the pans.


Thanks, nova


 

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Your welcome for the suggestion.  Microwaving the soaked towels definately gets them hotter than just pouring the boiling water over them...IMHO.  My first time hearing of using wet towels was when I read about it at Fornobravo Wood Fired Ovens site.  I also steam from the top, because of my large two stones that are made to completely cover the shelf.  The stones are kept on the bottom lowest rack, because when my oven is in the regular mode and the convection is turned off,  the heating element is under the metal oven bottom cover, on the bottom of the oven...When my oven is set on regular bake, I think my stone gets more direct heat from the heating element, by being placed as close to it as possible.


Also my oven also vents when it is set in the regular baking mode.


Sylvia 

roxbakes's picture
roxbakes

Hi Sylvia! I actually saw it first on Larry's page when he documented the trial of this new steaming technique. Jumping from his post, to yours, I was compelled to try it, too! Wonderful results! Thanks for posting! I'll keep using it! Merry Christmas! :)

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

and Happy New Year, roxbakes!


Sylvia

LindyD's picture
LindyD

I had tried the wet towel in the pan after reading JoeVa's blog earlier this summer - but never with two pans, or nuking the towels.


What effect does preheating the towels have on overall steam, and how long did you leave the pans/towels in?


I see a fan in your oven - did you use it during the bake?


Your bread looks lovely - hope you and Mike had a great night out!

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

I've just always wanted to give this a try because this method can be used in a WFO.  It just made since to me to have boiling hot towels going into the pans and the best way to do this would be by heating them in the microwave.  It gets the towels super hot and steaming, so the steam is there when they go into the oven.


I leave the pans/towels in the oven for the same length of time I usually steam my bread...no changes in my steaming time, usually about 10-14 minutes.  I keep the convection/fan off when steaming, and set my oven back on for convection to finish baking.


Thanks Lindy, we had a great evening out.


Sylvia

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

No stones are used in my loaf pans.  Did you use the stones as JoeV does with the towels and if so did you see any advantage to using the stones?


Sylvia

LindyD's picture
LindyD

 I didn't get a chance to make any comparisons, Sylvia.


I didn't own a loaf pan so had to buy one - did have lava stones and placed a few on the bottom then preheated the pan (and stones) for an hour at 500F.  I used hot water to wet the towel before placing it in the pan, then added some water, loaded the bread - and forgot to turn down the oven from its 500F preheat  (duh).  My note in JoeVa's blog mentions the cut opened fairly well, but it couldn't have been anything to write home about as I didn't take a photo.


I recall doing it it again the following week, just to get a loaf of bread in the freezer before leaving for NYC, but haven't tried it since then.  


I've been using a cover and hand steamer, ala SteveB's technique, and have gotten some nice results, but am still experimenting with length of steam time and how long the cover remains on.  Haven't had a chance to do much baking, but hope that changes soon.


I want to try Txfarmer's 36-hour baguettes; there's no way I can get baguettes my stone and cover them, so I'll definitely try the wet towel technique again - sans the stones.


The bread is great, the oven spring is great....it's the quest for getting the cuts to open to my liking that's so challenging.  Reminds me of powder skiing on virgin snow - the run can be fantastic, but sometimes you look up the mountain and see a flaw in the serpentine of  your track - so you go back up and do it again!

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

I know what you mean.  It's so satisfying to see a lovely slash and la gringe. To much steam can cause my slashes to widen without a nice ear 'la gringe' using less water for steaming seems to have helped me get a nicer ear along with careful steam timing.  I also have the cover pan with the steamer like Steve shows, and sizes are always a problem even with all my other gadgets, I have several sizes of deep pot/roasters with metal lids and knobs, 2 shapes of La Cloches, several turkey pan/covers, Iron pans and lava stones and just added the perforated pie pans, tried the pie pans with ice cubes...I don't like using ice cubes, 2 sizes, spritzer bottles, foil covers and pyrex bowls, even clay bowls with lids, I used also for no knead breads........geeezzz.  All have some downfall of one sort or another...so far with the hot towels steaming, I think a lot of the problems I have with other steaming devices have been eliminated...I hope, I still want to do more bakes and tweeks..mostly with timing and steam amount. I have a long to do list, most of us do, I think, I've been trying to do more wfo baking and that had a rainy damper on it this week.


Sylvia  


 

teketeke's picture
teketeke

Hello, Sylvia


Thank you for the tip that is interesting and creative, too. Your bread's crust are looking very attractive! 


Thank you for sharing!


Akiko

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Thank you, Akiko,


I'm not positive, but the crusts seems a little extra cracky, steaming this way.  Things were pretty unplanned and just went as a spare of moment trial run.


Sylvia

teketeke's picture
teketeke

Hi,Sylvia


I tried your way today. It worked!!  My oven is GE electric oven that is 9 years old and I can't use highest heat 500F or 250℃ because I broke one of two element twice while using highest heat.  My husband said to me, " you can't burn the element anymore because there was no enough length to connect it to the terminal." So, my oven's highest temperature is 470F now.


I am also worried about the inner glass of the oven. I dropped a little amount of water on the glass once, then it cracked.....  I have been in tense whenever I use boiling water to make steam. Although I use a bath towel on the glass before setting up the hot towel in loaf pans because I may drop the pans on the glass someday.:)


Thank you so much, Sylvia!


Akiko

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Akiko, I'm glad to hear you are feeling more at ease while steaming.  I'am too! ;)


Sylvia

rossnroller's picture
rossnroller

Haven't seen that method before - it looks good. I just use the old ice cubes in a pre-heated tray + spraying water inside the oven after loading the bread, and that works fine for most breads, but when you're doing something like baguettes where you really need lots of steam to get that classic finish on the crust, that method is not adequate.


I haven't seen any other methods until this one of yours that have inspired me to give them a try. This time, will do so!


Cheers
Ross


PS: Nice lookin' breads!

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Thanks, Ross!  I think you can get all the steam you want, if you want even more just add more towels in a bigger pan.  You could really see a lot of steam coming out, when the pans were removed, especially on this rainy cool weather we are having.


Sylvia

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Inspiring, Sylvia! I'll have to try this one, and will report back.


Thanks!!


 

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

It's so much easier for me and works great.  The method is simple and can be adjusted to what pans/bowls you have at hand.  You can heat the towels and use the same glass pyrex pan in the oven that you used in the microwave.  I just don't care about having a glass pyrex dish in my oven.


Sylvia

davidg618's picture
davidg618

I got the idea, originally, from Hamelman's Bread. I use a half sheet pan, lined with toweling. I simply boil about two cups of water in the teakettle, soak the towels well, and immediately place them in the oven, on the rack below the preheated baking stone, approximately five minutes before loading the loaves.


Soon after I started steaming this way, I found the steam (which is at 212°F) was cooling the baking stone, preheated to 500°F. I solved this problem by covering the bottom of the rack holding the baking stone with aluminum foil. 


Regarding the convection fan: I found, especially with baguettes, the convection fan dries the loaves dough surface, and reduces oven spring. I solved this problem by preheating in convection mode (to exploit the even oven heating in this mode), switching to conventional mode (turns the fan off) during the steaming/oven spring period, and returning to convection mode after removing the steam pan. This seconds Sylvia's same approach.


If your oven has a vent (most do) cover it to preserve the steam. I just use a folded bar towel. 


I've been so satisfied with this method, I've felt no need to tweak it further. I like the idea of microwave heating the towels, but won't work for me since I use my microwave as my proofing box.


David G

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

I have used a sheet pan of towels in my WFO because of it's interior size is large.  That is where I first heard of using wet towels ' at the FornoBravo wood fired oven site'.  But I prefer using a very large spritzer or hose spray for steaming my WFO.


Microwaving the wet towels, IMHO, gets them super hot very fast and they stay hot being packed into a loaf pan...my loaf pans are pretty heavy and dark, favoring heat retention. 


 I also proof in my microwave but the loaves are removed by the time I'm ready to microwave the towels.


I don't cover my vents, because I'm afraid of burning myself...and have also been leary of it because it's something my oven is supposed to do.   


My oven constantly vents, no matter what mode it is in, regular bake, convection bake and even when it's turned off, it vents automaticly to cool the oven.


I steamed from just the top, until now I can add the small loaf pan to the side of my baking bread.


Because my stones are placed on a special rack made to hold them, the rack and stones came with my oven, and cover the entire shelf area.  This makes it difficult for the steam to rise. 


Also I like for my stones to be as close to the bottom of my oven as possible, because when my oven is set on regular heating, the heat comes from the bottom element and I think it helps keep the stones get hotter. 


I'm not completely convinced that using the convection setting actually drys out my loaves, when this type of steaming is in use.  I think it might just circulate the steam and makes things a lot hotter causing the loaves to start browning sooner.  I  might try lowering the temperature of the convection setting, to see if it makes any difference...lot's of way's to experiment with towel steaming, 


Sylvia 

davidg618's picture
davidg618

...I've had graphic evidence that the convection fan was drying out my baguettes, and thus limiting oven spring.


I place my baguettes (3 of them) along the right-to-left axis of my bakingstone--across the width of the oven. The convection fan occupies the center third of the back wall. In the convection mode the center of the closest baguette would always be smaller in diameter compared to its end segments. The next baguette would exhibit simailar pinching in its center, but not as extreme as the back-most loaf. Finally, the diameter of the baguette nearest the oven door would be nearly the same end-to-end. When I switched to using the conventional mode (fan off) during the steaming/oven-spring period, my baguettes no longer pinch in the center.


I also noticed an assymetric oven-spring side-to-side when I baked two boules. The lesser oven-spring side of both boules corresponded their inner side, i.e., the side aligned with the convection fan.


Now, I only use the conventional mode during steaming, and switch to convection mode to finish the bake after I remove the steaming towel/pan.


David G


 

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

My fan sucks the air into it and the air flows out from behind the back of the oven wall in all directions, so the heating and browning tends to stay fairly even, so, I usually don't turn my baking bread, though it does help to make a very even browning, but to be on the safe side I have always used the conventional mode while steaming...I'll stick to that setting, unless I should use covered baking.  I also place my baguettes, 3, across the length of my oven.  They have been smaller in the center but it was due to my shaping of the dough...otherwise they rise even, but that's when set in conventional mode...haven't tried the convection mode with baguettes..don't like to experiment, after all the trouble of making baguettes..to chicken -:> 


To test the direction of air flowing in my oven, I attached strips of foil at different areas in my oven..worked nicely, showing the air flow pattern.


Sylvia

highmtnpam's picture
highmtnpam

Hitz (Baking Artisan Breads) puts nuts and bolts in a bread pan, preheats the pan and then puts wet towels in the bread pan.  I think the hot, microwaved towels, placed on the hot nuts and lots would really,really steam away. Great idea.


 Pam

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

what a great baker, I admire his work.  I'm trying to get away from all the heavy and awkward steaming equipment, nuts bolts, stones, heavy pots, skillets, ect...old age is creeping up on me!


Sylvia

teketeke's picture
teketeke

Thank you for adding another great technique, Tim


I will try the way, too!


Akiko

highmtnpam's picture
highmtnpam

definitely identify. Any day now I am going to settle on ONE method and divest my kitchen of 25 lbs of "stuff"  Pam


Pam

jackie9999's picture
jackie9999

I have a gas oven that vents and have always used the upside down clay pot for my boules and it does a nice job..but I wanted to try the 36 hour baguettes too which can't be covered so I'd like to try this method. It wouldn't have occurred to me to put towels in my oven though..I suppose making sure they're very wet is the secret to avoiding a fire...

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Always use caution!  Your towels in the loaf pans will bemoved after steaming and they will be very wet, steamy and super hot.  Soak them good in plenty of water before microwaving, if need be you can always add more boiling water.  Just microwave extra water in a pyrex measure cup till it boils, quickly open the door and very carefully pour it over the towels, avoiding getting any water on your stones, oven glass door, cover your door with a towel for extra protection.


Using loaf pans with pre-steamed towels, and you can use smaller ones, allows for a lot more baking space...you can get very creative here.


I also have a problem when it comes to space using covered baking...unless I'm doing very short small baguettes or one loaf at a time...just not enough room even with my very large steamer/lid set up...they are just to crowded and don't get properly browned on the sides.


Sylvia

kmrice's picture
kmrice

Sylvia, you say you "prefer using a very large spritzer or hose spray" in your WFO. I just completed building mine. Did you find the results better with a spritzer, or was it just easier, or what? I'll be doing my first bake in the oven this weekend and would love to benefit from your experience.


Karl

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Congratulations on your new WFO.  Wow, you must be so excited.  I'm assuming you've done all your curing fires, before any big hot firings.  I hope you do a pizza first while you still have wood burning in your oven...You don't want to miss that window of oppourtunity...yummm!  Wow, and steaks placed on a wfo grill with some hot coals shoved under it...OMG to die for, don't get me started with the endless goodness of wfo grilling/roasting/baking :)  What a treat your in for, I love using fruitwoods or mostly I use oak..it burns, cleanest, hottest, longest and both are abundant around my area.


My wfo is a fornobravo oven, it's not made of mud or clay.  I'm not sure if you have a mud oven.  If it is mud, I'm not sure how they work for best steaming.  I know if you have a wooden door, that can be soaked in water.  My oven walls are so hot when the spray is directed at them it bursts and evaporates into steam before ever hitting the walls/floors, so no worry about anything cracking.  Either way spritzing or steamed towels works in my oven.  Now I'm not so sure about the spritzing/spaying...I'm getting so much 'constant steam' from the loaf pan/ microwaved-wet towels...I will use them in my next wfo bake.  The problem I've had with the spritzing is I have to open the wfo oven door more with spritzing...using the pan/towel set-up it's done, one time deal...pre-steamed and steaming...I like that...I'm still experimenting :)  I really like the steam I'm seeing...I think I would try both and see which one you like best, results you get, ect.  First if it were me...I'd give the pan/towel set-up a go...but then that's MHO, and I'm always experimenting.  I'm going to try and bake tomorrow in my wfo...it's been pouring rain here and finally drying up.  


Sylvia 

kmrice's picture
kmrice

Oven is very well cured and we've done pizza a few times. I will definitely make pizza before I bake - like you say, why waste those BTUs.


My oven is an FB Casa2G110, so you experience should be helpful. I'm going to try spritzing first - getting the boiling water from the kitchen to the oven would be a chore. I'll try the loaf pan/towel method later.


Thanks again,


Karl

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

What boiling water?  My spritzer water is in a plastic spray bottle.  Pans have hot towels already placed in them from the kitchen.  Use a cookie sheet for a tray to carry the loafpans with microcwaved hot steamy towels.  No boiling water to carry.  If the loaf pans are pre-heated carry them on a cookie sheet/metal tray.  If you soak the towels with plenty of water, you won't need to add anymore water.

teketeke's picture
teketeke

Hi, Sylvia


I really want to thank you for sharing your new steaming technique. Therefore, I put some pictures of the result. There was an accident but it works everytime !!!



And some more..




THANK YOU VERY MUCH, Sylvia!!


Akiko


 

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Your welcome, Akiko!  Thank you for sharing!  I've also had that problem when I didn't trim the parchment.  Your oven looks nice and steamy.  I think the microwaved-super-pre-heated towels make a lot of difference in using the towel technique.  It's now also my favorite steaming in my WFO...having excellent results, especially with my baguette experiments.  I love not having to work with heavy stuff!  My oven doesn't show as much steam, but I know it's there, especially when the loaf pans are removed...woowaa!


Sylvia


 

gene wild's picture
gene wild

Thanks for the wet towels tip. I gave it a try yesterday and was very pleased---the best crust I have gotten in a years baking.


gene

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Sylvia

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

I tried the spa treatment today, too.  It worked great.  Thanks, Sylvia.


 


Glenn

ww's picture
ww

Hi Sylvia and everyone else,


this is all very interesting. I must try the wet towels method, as well as the cloche method. I had bought a cheap aluminium dish which i'm hoping to use as a sort of tent. But dunno if i should spritz that with some water or not before covering the bread.


This discussion has thrown up many leads. I had not thought of experimenting with the convection setting. Also at the risk of sounding like a complete idiot, how do you tell if your oven vents??? I never used to bother with steaming because my oven has a bread baking mode, which supposedly provides steam - not that i really saw any.But i have since switched to manual steaming. ANyone else has had luck with the bread mode in their ovens? Mine is a Bosch.


In fact, my worry is am i getting steam for too long? sometimes even after the first 15 mins, when i open my oven steam escapes. Is that an indication that the oven is not venting and i am keeping the steam for too long? I had read that using a spoon to open the oven a crack will allow the steam to escape. I tried that because i wondered if excessive steam was causing my slashes to close up. Can anyone confirm this?


Thanks guys for all those tips!


Btw, sylvia, saw your post on those pizzas. They looked SO GOOD. The crust just the way it should be...

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Hi,  I'll try to answer some of your questions.  First it sounds like you have one of those very nice fancy bread steaming ovens.  I don't have any experience with that type of oven. 


I can tell if my oven is venting just my feeling the air coming out of the vents running across the top of my closed oven door, there is a good warm breeze blowing out the openings. 


Bread is usually steamed somewhere in the neighborhood of around 10 minutes or a few minutes longer.  Some leave their breads that are baking under covers for nearly all of the bake, say the last 10 mins or a little longer the lid is removed, just to brown the loaf up nicely.


  The steam helps the bread to stay moist, so the seams open up and the loaf gets a nice oven spring.  If your slashes are closing up, it's probably because the loaf has formed a skin, because it either got to much air exposure and no moisture.  Excessive steaming can also cause your seams to open to wide and you can loose a nice gringe or ear on your slashes, so you need to try and get a happy medium of steaming time.


Using a lid or cover for steaming can get excellent results.  The bread makes it's own steam that is trapped under the cover.  Spraying the cover can sometimes cause drips to go down on the bread and leave marks...so you don't necessarily need to spritz the cover..though some people do spritz their loaves before covering..this is all IMHO!


Your Bosch oven sounds like it has a very nice feature.  If you haven't already, I would study the directions very carefully about the steaming feature.  It does help to open the door to release excess steam, after steaming is complete, at least this is what many do that have regular baking ovens.


You might like to post some of your questions in the forum...no need to worry about asking any baking questions, loafers are always willing to help.


Thank you for nice pizza compliment!


Sylvia

ww's picture
ww

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Thanks Sylvia for your reply.


 


My oven is not really fancy top-end. The bread baking function is another mode it has that supposedly adds moisture. However, there is nothing by way of explanation in the manual, and I’ve always been sceptical because I didn’t detect much steam when I used it and my breads used to get very, very hard crusts. Also if I do not set the timer, how does the oven control the amount of steam and when? I’ve seen Miele ovens though that allow you to inject steam as and when you want to. Now that may be something to aspire to J) that said, how does that compare to your WFO !!!


 


All inspired, I tried your towel method last night! I felt it did not produce as much steam as my usual ice cubes + boiling water on cast-iron pan method, but  this could be because 1. My oven was not hot enough and 2. I only used 2 towels in all – one in each tin due to the lack of space. The advantage of your method though is that I feel a wet towel is perhaps easier to handle than pouring boiling water and theoretically should produce more steam for a longer time. So the next time, I will try placing the wet towel boiled in water ( I used the microwave last night but it’s rather inconvenient because I can’t turn on the oven & microwave at the same time)  directly onto the CAST IRON PAN which I feel gets sizzling hot unlike the tin.


 


But last night’s experiment allowed me to observe something different and interesting. I usually get oven spring (if at all. Temperatures here are very warm and I habitually over-proof my loaves) at the beginning and slashes widen at about the same time. I then watch sadly as they proceed to close up. Then the browning of the crusts slowly takes place. Last night, however, the slashes opened, closed up, then only after about 10 minutes or more, did the bread suddenly pop up. I was so surprised.


 


So, my question is: what is the usual sequence for you (or others)?


 


I used to think that I retained too much steam even after the initial period requiring steam because 1. I can see the steam and when I open the oven to let it out, it comes out in a blast and 2. Since I started this method, my crusts are much thinner and softer, but perhaps you are right? I need to provide the moist environment for a longer time???


 


Experiments, experiments ;))


I will also post the forum.


SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

I' not sure I understand your question.  I have never experienced my slashes closing, so it's hard to answer what might be happening, but I would say it has something to do with the amount and timing of the steaming of your oven.


First I slash my loaves and then immediately place them into a pre-steamed oven and then add more steam for apx. 10mins or a little longer. while steaming I set my oven for regular bake.  After the steaming I set my oven on convection bake, adjusting the oven temperature as needed...it gets a lower temperature setting, than what the oven is set on for pre-heating..oven and stone.


Sylvia

davidg618's picture
davidg618

Despite my earlier disclaimer that I was satified with my towel&pan steaming arrangements, I am forever curious, and wondering can I make it better.


Incidentally, during the cold war, the Russian admiral, that ran the Soviet Navy for twenty-three years, was reported to have a sign posted on the wall behind his desk which, when translated to English, read


"Better is the enemy of Good Enough!"


For the time ignoring the admiral's credo, I revisited Sylvia's guidance to place the steam pan above the the loaves rather than below. I'd tried it once, but ran into a problem, so, at the time, returned to placing my steam pan below the baking stone.


The Problem: When I place the steam pan on a rack in the highest possiblle position in the oven, I have to place the oven stone on a rack in the lowest possible position, otherwise I run the risk of the loaves expanding, from oven spring, into the bottom of the rack holding the steam pan. I normally preheat the oven to 500°F. With the baking stone in the lowest possible rack position its bottom is within an inch of the heating element on the floor of the oven. Even though I drop the temperature to 450°F when I load the loaves, the baking stone, in this position, is frequently reheated by the heating element, and the bottom crust, while not burnt, is deeply carmelized, and thickened.


Monday, I baked two loaves of sourdough: I put the baking stone on a rack in the lowest possible position, and I lined the bottom of the rack with aluminum foil except for the inch on eiither end not covered by the baking stone. I reasoned the foil would reflect much of the element's radiated heat back into the air, and natural convection would carry the heat upward into the oven chanmber. I also loweered the preheat temperature to 475°f.


I placed my wet towel lined sheet pan on a rack in the highest possible position. I wet the towels with boiling water, and immediately placed the pan in the oven about 5 minutes before I intended to load the loaves. The room temperature pan and towel cooled the boiling water quickly. After two minutes in the oven, no steam was evident. On a whim, and observing very closely, I momentarily turned the oven off, and turned on the "Broil" element --about three inches above the the steam pan. With in a minute i saw bursting bubbles on the towel's surface, and lots water vapor was venting from the oven. I turned the broiler off, set the oven on "Bake", 450°F, and loaded the loaves.


Results:



Although not evident from the picture the bottom crusts are fine.


So, now, this is my 'tweaked" favorite way to steam;-)


Thanks, Sylvia


David G

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Your loaves are gorgeous all around, just beautiful!  Thanks for sharing, I loved seeing your results! 


Wet towel steaming has been around for some time and looks like you found the WT steaming method that works great for your oven and stones!  Stay safe, steam is hotter than @#$%! 


Sylvia

wayne on FLUKE's picture
wayne on FLUKE

My wife told me this morning that we were having Italian Sausage on pasta for dinner. I said "But I don't have any bread!" I decided to make Italian Feather Bread (which I have made quite a few times, but not lately) and try the steaming technique SylviaH described since I felt my previous steaming attempts were pretty weak. I am also using Better for Bread flour for the first time. (It is Buy One Get One Free at Albertson's this week.)


Beard on Bread - Italian Feather Bread original recipe here.


Here they are in the oven, almost done.


Almost Done!


Steaming Process



  • While Proofing for about 45 mins, preheat oven to 425 with quarry tiles in place.

  • Heat wet towels in baking dish in microwave.

  • Put dish with hot towels in oven 10 mins before bread. Add 1 cup hot water.

  • Roll loaves, one at a time onto peel, slash, mist with water and put on quarry tiles.

  • Bake at 425 for 10 mins, remove pan with towels, rotate bread, bake for another 20 min.


I was very happy to see the nice oven spring and opening of the slashes when I removed the towels. I am also very pleased with the look of the crust. Much better on all counts than previous attempts.


The main change I made to Sylvia's steaming method was to put all four towels in the baking dish in the microwave at once, and then tranfer the entire dish and towels into the bottom of the oven just before taking the loaves out of the couche. I added the 1 cup of steaming water when I put the bread in. I never saw much steam, but that may because it was warm and humid today in Florida.


Towels ready to go in oven


 


Sylvia, thanks for this technique, I will do it again for sure.


wayne


For recipe and more pics see my blog post.

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Thanks for sharing your results...very nice : )


Sylvia

liztree's picture
liztree

Hi


 I am going to try this towel method in a day or two, refreshing my SD now.


I have no microwave and do no want towels to reduce temp of oven


How about wetting ansd squeezing out with hot tap then pouring on boiling water and pacing towel in bread pan with tongs???


liz Thanks

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Should work great.  I would try just rolling up the towels and pouring boiling water over them, just enough to get the wet through, let them pre-steam the oven and then add another dose of boiling water when you put your loaves in, I think it's better if you don't have but a very small amount of water in the bottom of the pan. The hot oven will help the towels to stay hot and release steam.  I like to nuke the towels because it heats them very, very hot on the inside and when lifted with the tongs they release a lot of steam.


Sylvia 

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