The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Steaming and Soft Bottom Crust

HSVBreadBaker's picture

Steaming and Soft Bottom Crust

Hey guys and gals, long time reader, first time poster. I searched the forums as much as I could, but couldn't find a solution.

So I am working on steaming my bread to start off, and I've had mixed results. I have a plan heating coil oven with 4 racks and a .4 inch baking stone.

1. Pan with rocks and chain (rack 1) under baking stone (rack 2 or 3) = great top crust, but very soft bottom crust

2. Pan with rocks and chain (rack 3) above baking stone (rack 1) = okay crust, but doesn't brown before internal loaf temp reaches 210 F - crust becomes light golden brown, but very crispy - bottom is same with spotty browning.

Any suggestions on my soft bottom crust and steam options? 

Has anyone ever tried blocking the oven vent to build up steam? I did and the steam escapes out the bottom, but at a slower pace. I'm not sure if this is useful, harmful, or helpful.

Thank you for the help

Edit: I also have a 1/4" carbon steel plate in my arsenal - i use it for pizza, it burns my bread bottom crust.


Mebake's picture

Hi, HSVbreadbaker!

Is your Oven a gas type or an electric?



HSVBreadBaker's picture

It is electric. New coil installed on bottom and working well.

Ford's picture

Perhaps you have not allowed the heating stone to come up to temperature.  It will take about an hour for the stone to heat through.  I set my oven to 10°F higher than my start oven temperature and let it stay there for an hour before I put in my loaves.  I have a pan of boiling water under the stone, but only just before I put in the bread dough, and then only for the first fifteen minut4es.

I would not try to block the oven vents, the steam may get into the electric circuits and damage them..  Your bread will steam even with the vents open.


HSVBreadBaker's picture

This is probably my issue. When the steaming stuff is below the stone, it warms up with the oven. But my steaming pan is in total 15 lbs and is probably not letting my stone absorb enough energy before baking.

I am going to try this steaming method today:

The chain and stones, just seem dangerous. Hot water flying out of the pan from the tremendous amount of heat.

Also, is a .4 inch stone thick enough? I just started using this thing for leaner bread. I normally use a baguette tray for lean bread and get a very thick crust, but I am wanting to get better spring, which is I am using the stone and steam. The better spring has been achieved, but with the sacrifice of a thick crust.

Thanks Ford

dabrownman's picture

(2) of Sylvia's steaming pans with rolled up kitchen towel and a 12" CI skillet with lava rocks all 3 half full of water.  I set the temperature for 450 F.  When the oven beeps saying is is at 450 F I then put the 3 steaming apparatus's in the oven then set the temperature for 500 F.  When it beeps and says that it is at 500 F then I set the timer for 15 minutes as the stone always lags the oven temperature by 15 minutes.  When the timer goes off the oven is steaming like crazy  then the bread goes in.  I leave it 500 F for 10 minutes and then turn it down to 4540 F for n13 more minutes of steam.

Works every time,  reat curst top and bottm when the inside hits 205 F

HSVBreadBaker's picture


New Setup:

Rack 1  - Terry Cloth Steaming Pan

Rack 2 - Baking stone on top off same size foil cut out (I read that the steam at 212 F can cool done your baking stone if placed below, seems to work)

Rack 3 - empty

Rack 4 - 16 by 18 by 1/4 in carbon steel plate


1. Preheat oven to 500 F without terry pan for 1-2 hrs

2. Place terry pan to pre heat in oven for 15 min

3. Follow terry towel steam method (

4. Place Loafs in Oven, reduce temp to 465 F, let steam for 10 mins, remove terry pan and bake additional 15-20 min


Crust is hard on top and bottom with good spring (2 1/2 inches). This is a no knead recipe at a little over 70% hydration - (

Ford's picture

Your bread looks good to me.  I am not a fan of the no knead methods.  I prefer to hand knead whenever possible.  For some very wet doughs, a mixer with a dough hook handles the dough better.  Kneaded dough is easier to shape and to get the uniform geometry that many people desire.


HSVBreadBaker's picture


This no knead recipe worked well for making a ton of dough to experiment with and tasted pretty well. It was a little more difficult to shape, but being at about 70% vs 80% of most no kneads, it worked a lot better.