The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Steam Maker Bread Baker Company

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Willard Onellion's picture
Willard Onellion

Steam Maker Bread Baker Company

I don't remember where I first heard of the Steam Baker.

I bought one and am delighted!

It consists of a large 3/4" baking stone, a stainless steel cover, and a steam generator.

It replaces the need for the spritzing and spraying I have been doing since I began baking artisan breads.

To use it, you preheat the stone to 400 F. Place the bread on the stone, place the cover over the loaf/loaves, then spray steam thru a small hole in the cover for 10-15 seconds. Remove the lid after 10 minutes and continue the baking process.

I found it at www.steambreadmaker.com.

Pricey, but great.

 

alconnell's picture
alconnell

Glad to see a review of the steam baker.  I saw it too, but got scared off by the $200 price.  They do offer just the cover and steamer for less if you already have a stone. 

A couple alternatives I've discovered:

Baparoma (I think) makes an oblong metal pan with several layers that you can pour water in the bottom one and it steams.  I own one and it works great for baguettes, but not oval loaves or rolls.

Also, I decided to try to fashion my own steam baker after seeing their web site, since I already owned a stone and a steam cleaner.  I bought a full size 4" deep stainless pan from a supply co. and drilled a hold in the bottom of it.  I put it upside down over my stone, and inject my own steam.  I only used it the first time this morning and it worked great.  I'll experiment some more and post back. 

sewwhatsports's picture
sewwhatsports

I am definitely interested in this product but want to hear more from people that  have it and what they think.  I have a smaller baking stone so it won't work even with the 3/4 size product.  One of my biggest concerns for my baking is the time frame for me to keep my oven door open to load the dough and then steam the oven.  I lose so much heat that the oven has to reheat for a short period.  I would love to see if this product will shorten the time and give me the results I want.  Also, how does it work if you are doing more than one loaf at a time in the oven.  Are you limited to just doing one loaf at a time?  Inquiring minds want to know... :) 

Rena in Delaware

Willard Onellion's picture
Willard Onellion

Rena, I bake two loaves at a time.

The dimensions of the stainless steel lid are:

external dimensions including handle 21 x 12 ¾ x 5 ½
    -  inside dimensions 19 ½ x 11 ¼ x 4

There are two size stones sold.

Willard

Gayla's picture
Gayla

   I'm sorry, but this seems like an incredible waste of money. Not only do I doubt that it works much better that using a stone and spraying the oven with water, but $200?! It's a handheld clothing steamer, a baking stone, and a chafing/warming dish cover with a hole drilled in it! I'm certain you could buy that stuff for less that $100.   I have 6 terracotta floor tiles in my oven and an old cast iron pan. I preheat the oven to about 50 degrees higher that the recipe calls for, put the bread in and pour some hot water in the pan. I close the door and wait about 30 seconds before spraying the oven walls with water, I wait another 30 seconds and spray one more time, then I turn the oven down to the correct temperature. It works great every time, sometimes my loaves almost double again in the oven.

Willard Onellion's picture
Willard Onellion

I value differeing opinions based on fact or experience.  This doesn't seem to be one.

I have used several stones and sprayed/spritzed my oven for years. I have also used two style La Cloche's with great success.

BUT, neither of these methods approach the success I have had with the  steam baker. As I said in my original post, it is pricey. I question whether this is a handheld clothing steamer. It seems much more heavy duty. But, I won't try to change your mind that seems to have been made up in advance of seeing or trying the rig.

Oh, yeah, it also comes with a heavy-duty stone that runs about $50-60 elsewhere.

sphealey's picture
sphealey

I know nothing of this product, and was a bit dubious myself (although RLB did recommend it and she normally tests everything to destruction herself). So I can't comment directly.

 

But I will point out that from a thermodynamic and chemistry standpoint there is a HUGE difference between steam and boiling water vapour. Boiling water vapour is what all the spritzing/cast iron/hot water/ice cube methods produce; steam is a horse of a different Mollier diagram. So if this thing actually injects steam into the oven it could be different.

 

KitchenAid, at least, now makes a home oven with a built-in steam geneartor. But it is in the US$4500 list range, which is a bit much for my budget ;-(

 

sPh

Willard Onellion's picture
Willard Onellion

I first attempted to make "real" French Bread according to Julia Child in her book on French Cooking some 27 years ago. I bought the tiles and put them in my oven. I got a container that would hold the water for the drop of red-hot iron to make the steam. I did not succeed.

I have, over the years, discarded the tiles, replacing them with "baking stones" of various thicknesses and sizes.

I have put hot objects into water, I have put water into, onto, etc in efforts to  make steam. I just wonder that my oven let me do all the things I have tried. As I progressed in baking experience and hopefully, in expertise, I have yearned for some semblance of the professional steam-injected oven, that is far beyond both my monetary level as well as room to accomodate it.

Over the past 16 months, I thought I had found the perfect compromise, the La Cloche, both the round and the batard shape.

The oven rise was better than I obtained with the spritzing/steaming method.

I finally found the system I described. It replicates, however weakly, the effects of the professional oven. I find that the results, especially of oven-spring are spectacular.

It is better in its results than cooking on the stone with spritzing/spraying, and even better than using the La Cloche, plus I can do two loaves at once.

If tiles satisfy you, stay with them. If any other system satisfies you, stay with it. I just  feel that I have found, costly or not, the step to the next level of baking excelle nce.

 

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

I value your review and 27 years of experience. At this point in my baking, I have many skills I will need to hone before I get to that level of baking. I do appreciate hearing baking experiences and products that are available. Thanks

sewwhatsports's picture
sewwhatsports

I am seriously thinking about purchasing this product.  I will be taking a class in a couple of weeks and will ask others there if they have heard/tried this system.  I think I would like the big set up but right now cannot afford to get it.  Maybe after I get back from the class and save a little.  I am glad to hear that you can do 2 loaves at a time.  How much recovery time to do a second batch of loaves when you are finished with the first?  Basically a reheating of the stone?  I am looking eventually to make and take about 1 to 2 dozen loaves each week to a local farmers market this summer and want to be able to do all the baking on late Friday for Saturday sales. I want the best possible system without spending $4500 on a steam injected oven. 

Rena in Delaware

Willard Onellion's picture
Willard Onellion

Rena, I have not determined the recovery time you asked about. With only my wife and I here, I rarely make more than two loaves at a time, and even then, I usually give one away.

I would guess that just a reheating of the stone would be necessary, probably about the same time it will take the oven to recover its heat.

BTW, I found yesterday that just 25 degrees makes a huge difference in results here.

Instead of heating the stone to 450 F I went to 475 F, in both cases reducing the oven setting by 25 degrees after injecting the steam.

I scorched the bottoms of my loavess, not deeply but enough to require that I scrape them a bit.

I will continue to experiment with temps and times. Right now, I would heat the stone to 450 F, place the bread under the cover, inject the steam for 12 seconds, bake under the cover 12 minutes, remove cover, and finish baking . . . about 10-15 minutes depending upon the size of the loaf.

A major difference I have obtained with this method is the crust is flakier, rather than hard with the spritzing procedure.

I'll keep trying and, hopefully, learning, and let you know how it goes.

 

Willard

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I just joined this site and am glad I happened to see this posting. I found the steamer the other day and am also considering purchasing it. I have been trying to learn how too make the perfect baguette for the last year and a half and so far I have learned that everything matters. I'm making good bread but not that wonderful memory of Paris that has me hooked.  

Someone else commented that there is a big difference between ice cubes or water in a pan (water vapor) and steam. It's more than the differance between the two forms of moisture, the energy used to create the vapor is substantial. I'm sure the heat loss during conversion to vapor form results in a significant heat loss. Then there is the venting issue. I've had pretty good luck using a pressure cooker to provide steam through a copper tube but I'm ready to get rid of the hot steam tube for something a little more manageable.

One question I do have; how hard is it to remove the cover? Do you have to slide the stone rack out of the oven partially? The handles are not well pictured in the images I have seen. Thanks and keep the reviews coming.

 

Eric

Willard Onellion's picture
Willard Onellion

Eric, there is a single handle centered on the top of the stainless steel cover. No problem at all removing the cover.

Nope, I do not slide the stone out of the oven either at the beginning of placing the cover or at the end of process removing it.

The first time I tried it, I did slide the stone out to place the cover. The loaves on their paper slipped to the front of the stone and the cover pushed against them, causing the loaves to stick to the cover.

Since then, I have just placed the cover over my loaves, making sure that the edge of the cover clears the loaves. No problems since the first attempt.

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Do you pre heat the cover before you load the dough? Otherwise I would think it would take a while to deliver heat inside the cover. So many questions---

Willard Onellion's picture
Willard Onellion

No, I do not preheat the cover and neither does the mfr recommend it.

The stone retains easily enough heat for the process.

Willard

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Willard

 

The sales site isn't informative about replacement parts or warranty. Is there any mention of repairing or replacing the steamer should it fail? They don't list a price for the steamer alone on the site. Does it look like it will hold up for a while? How long is the warranty?

 

Thanks,

 

Eric

Willard Onellion's picture
Willard Onellion

Eric, sorry for taking so long to respond. I just saw your post.

The entire system seems very sturdy. The stone is, of course, a stone. The cover has only two parts, the cover itself and the small  handle at the top. No problems expected there. The only complex part is the heavy-duty steaming device. It appears simple and sturdy, too.

The manufacturer's warranty is for one year.

Willard

Noche's picture
Noche

I read somewhere that a masonary oven with a large number of loaves (12+) creates it's own steam from the little bit of moisture escaping from all of them. This is why the French towns have had a community bake oven for centuries and are going back to them. Put in one or five loaves depending on how large your family is and you all get the benefits.

 

It is this type of uncomplicated baking that is driving our "drive in one car and cook one loaf of bread" modern world with $4,000 bread machines and $70,000 SUV's. We pay a high price for not doing things together and not spending time with our neighbor.

 

At Google, type in French bake ovens or some similar search. Also - you put a shallow pan of boiling water into your oven just before placing your loaves in the oven - not hot water. 

breadnerd's picture
breadnerd

I sort of know what you mean. Using my mud oven this year made me realize the practicality of sharing the space and fuel as the french communities did. Even with my little oven I could easily bake off 25 loaves in one firing--and although I can freeze them, it's still way more than I need. I'm hoping to get in the habit of sharing with the neighbors this year, (in a more organized fashion) especially once the weather is nicer. And yes, in theory the moisture from the baking loaves is supposed to create steam....

 

My oven is based on the canadian versions, and they seemed to be much more independent folk--each family having their own oven. A lot has to do with space--in Europe people lived closer together so a communal oven made more sense--plus one wealthier landowner tended to control the community ovens, I believe. The canadians (and other north american pioneer-types) were a lot more isolated, and baked for their own family groups instead. I think their ovens were also more multi-purpose--often attached to another structure for heat, etc.

 

All this does make me think about american culture. I think the way our country was settled has a lot to do with how our society is based now--fierce independence, the spacing of cities (and then the reliance on automobiles, etc). And there's also a tradition of innovation, of coming up with improvised gadgets to do specific tasks and marketing those gadgets. It's not necessarily a bad thing--but I would also like to see more community activities that encourage sharing resources.

mountaindog's picture
mountaindog

Breadnerd - glad to see you chimed in - I was just about to point Noche to your mud-oven pics as an example of what I thought he was getting at.

 

I agree with both of you, I currently bake a week's worth of bread for 3 families each weekend. I can't wait to make our mud-oven this spring and hope to encourage more of my friends and neighbors to share it, but as you say, it is not always practical, as we live in a very isolated area too.

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Mountaindog,

I'm intrigued by the idea of you baking a weeks worth of bread for three families. What does that amount to in number of loaves? I'm looking at building a mud oven also and it would be nice to be able to really use the energy for the benefit of our friends. Do you have a big commercial mixer like a 30 qt? I'd love to know how you do this.

 

 

mountaindog's picture
mountaindog

Eric - not as hard as it sounds. My ability to keep 3 families supplied certainly depends on how big those families are and how much they eat!  :-) Fortunately for me, the families are small (branches of my extended family) and 2 large 3lb country boules last them all week. I usually bake about 6-12 loaves (depending on size of loaves I decide to make) of sourdough each weekend now - I made yeast breads before learning sourdough more recently. I do not have a large capacity mixer, but my 6 qt mixer does the job for 4-6 batches of dough. I stagger the dough making over the end of the work week and bake on Sat. and Sunday. I can only fit 2 large loaves at a time in my oven anyhow, but they bake pretty fast once the stones are heated so it doesn't take a huge chunk of my day. I find there is so little actual time spent making the dough that it is easy for me to get things started on Thurs. and Fri. nights, the rest is all timing with not much actual work. I also am fortunate to have a very large root cellar that is like a walk-in fridge for storing ingredients and fermenting buckets of dough at a consistent 45-50F. Having the mud-oven would certainly make it easier to bake them all at once, as long as one of us decides to fire it up early on a weekend. It may all sound like more work than it actually is...I don't really do any other cooking - my husband cooks, and his father, a retired chef, also cooks for all of us quite a lot, in return for the bread I supply ;-) I'd also thought that if I got even more productive with the mud-oven, it might be fun to try making enough to sell at a local farmer's market and see how it goes, but not sure I want to commit that much time yet.

breadnerd's picture
breadnerd

Mountaindog, did you read that chapter in ABAA about the backyard oven that turned into a business?  I thought it was a cool story, but it seemed a little sad to take a hobby and turn it into a 24 hour/day operation!  Granted she built herself a BIG ol' oven in the backyard to start with, but still.

We have a couple at our local farmer's market that have an Alan Scott oven.  I went to visit a few years ago and they have a wonderful set up.  They fire the oven thursdays (all day), bake bread all day friday, and sell at the saturday market.  The oven is hot enough wednesdays apparently to bake things like cookies etc.  They had tried a busier schedule with some wholesale clients but were happier with this set up.  It's still a weeklong job but not as crazy as a 5-7 day baking week.  I'm not sure if this is still what they're doing but at the time it was very inspirational :) 

sewwhatsports's picture
sewwhatsports

What size lid are you using, the 4" or 6"?  How does the clearance work in your oven?  I think I want to get the 6" deep lid because I do both batards and boules and I am concerned that the 4" will not be tall enough. Let me know what you think.  And thanks for the continuing information on the steamer.  I really want to try this soon. 

Rena in Delaware

Willard Onellion's picture
Willard Onellion

Rena, I use the 6" size for just the reasons you list.

There is enough room in my standard-sized oven to tilt the lid to place and remove it without disturbing the loaves or pulling the shelf with the stone.

I found that although the mfr recommends letting the steamer warm up for 10 minutes before steaming, I became impatient and decided to use it after only about 5 minutes. I got a hot water stream instead of steam.

Now, I wait the full time, testing it to see if it spouts steam.

I think I mentioned in an earlier post that the crust is flakier than with the spritz method or even my beloved La Cloches.

Wow, what an oven spring!

 

Willard Onellion's picture
Willard Onellion

Rena, I bought the 6" size. It fits easily into my oven which, I assume is standard sized.

Willard

steam maker's picture
steam maker

My name is Mark Schimpf and I am the owner of the Steam Maker Bread Baker Company.  This thread was bought to may attention this morning and I thought I would comment on several things.

I am an avid amateur cook and bread baker myself and have been baking bread for decades.  My quest to develop a technique or product that mimics the steam injection feature of professional baking ovens started with my frustration over the results I could get in a conventional home oven.

The product that emerged takes into consideration every aspect of the professional oven.

We use professional quality 3/4 inch thick baking stone.  The lid is stainless steel.  The steamer is sized to generate a volume of steam, relative to the size of the baking chamber that is comparable to professional ovens.  Professional ovens have much large steam generators to feed much large oven volumes.  Our product is scaled to mimic this relationship.

The product is designed for the avid amateur who regularly bakes hearth breads (breads baked on a stone) and strives for professional quality results.  It is not for the occasional baker.

The proof of the pudding is, of course, in the results.  The idea to commercialize this product only dawned on me once I saw that I could achieve results comparable to the breads I can buy from the best bakeries in my area in Northern NJ and NYC.

Thank you for your time and interest.

caryn's picture
caryn

My interest has been piqued, both by your explanation and that of Willard Onellion.  I have been an avid home baker for many years and understand the difficulty in achieving very crusty loaves.  My question to you and Willard is this- I really prefer a nice thick crust (like the kind you get on some wonderful Italian breads).  Will your system produce a  rather thick crust?  And I am curious as to the type of breads and formulas that you have tried with your system.

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Mark,

Thank you for your posting on this forum. I'm new here myself but never the less you have done a great job describing how to create great bread. The effort in your web site shows how much you are dedicated to the art. This is a very interesting solution to a challenging problem. I'm looking forward to using the unit next weekend.

 

Eric

ehanner's picture
ehanner

There is an excellent paper that should be well understood by any aspiring artisan baker at the commercial side of King Arthur Flour. The link below is to a discussion on the need for water in dough and the effects of various forms of it during the entire process. I found this to be very helpful in understanding how to arrive at a flavorful and well crusted loaf. If you dig around there are papers on all of the individual ingredients used by the baker.

http://www.kingarthurflour.com/stuff/contentmgr/files/15ec5c94af1251cdac2d7a25848f0e27/miscdocs/water.pdf

Cliff Johnston's picture
Cliff Johnston

ehanner,

Thanks for the very interesting link - much appreciated. It has prompted me to try a few experiments with my baking/steaming process.

Cliff. Johnston
"May the best you've ever seen,
 Be the worst you'll ever see;"
from A Scots Toast by Allan Ramsay

steam maker's picture
steam maker

Caryn, you can control the thickness of the crust by varying steaming time and lid-on time.  Shorter steaming times and longer lid on times produce thicker crust.  Connect to the following link for more on this. 

http://www.steambreadmaker.com/bread_making_tip_STEAM_INJECTION.htm

All of my work to date has been with baguettes, boules (pane pugliese, e.g.) and rolls made with a basic recipe (flour, water, yeast, salt).  I have varied things like hydration levels, yeast levels, rise and proof time and temperature, etc.  You'll find more at the following link. 

http://www.steambreadmaker.com/articles_baguette_bread_baguette_recipe.htm

I tend to like a thinner crust on baguettes and rolls and thicker crust on boules.  Hope this helps.

steam maker's picture
steam maker

Eric, thanks for that King Arthur Link.  It's an excellent discussion on water in general and steam injection in particular.  And Willard, thanks for starting this thread.

Back on 1/30, sphealey, alluded to the thermodynamics associated with injecting water versus steam into the oven.  He didn't specifically mention the heat of vaporization, but it is a key concept here.  Heating water to 212 degrees is in and of itself not enough to boil water and create steam.  Additional heat must be put into the water at 212 degrees to make the conversion.  Because of the tight bonds between molecules in liquid water, the heat of vaporization is very high.  According to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_enthalpy_change_of_vaporization) it takes five times as much energy to convert water at 212 degrees to steam at the same temperature, as it does to heat the same amount of water from 32 degrees to 212 degrees.  To quote sphealey, the difference between injecting water and steam is huge.

What does this mean in practice?  I believe there are two reasons that injecting water versus steam is not as effective.  The first has to do with timing.  The King Arthur article talks about how injecting steam into the oven must be done at the very start of baking.  Even a delay of a few minutes changes the effect.  When you inject water versus steam there is a time lag in converting the water into steam. 

The second issue has to do with concentration of steam required to create the desired effect.  I do not believe that introducing liquid water into the oven will ever generate the concentration of steam that is optimal.

One of the techniques that I worked through in the development of the Steam Maker Bread Baker is pouring hot water into a pan full of heated rocks.  This method does generate steam. Unfortunately, most of it dissipates before you can close the oven door.

When I finally came to the conclusion that a steam generator was the only device that was going to effectively mimic the professional bread baking ovens, I used existing steam injection oven designs to scale the relationship between the steam generator capacity and the baking chamber formed by the stone and lid.

 Mark

Willard Onellion's picture
Willard Onellion

Mark, many thanks for joining the discussion and giving of expertise that I certainly did not have.

I have used the Steam Maker with great success for the month or so I have had it. A comparison of my bread results in a "steamed" oven, my La Cloches, and the Steam Maker definitively tells me that I have found my solution until I can find $5,000 or more for a small pro oven, and even then I wouldn't know where to put the new one.

The questions of the group members had just about run me out of my limited expertise. My ability to handle most of the questions to date is a reflection of the ease of use and the very steep learning curve for the Steam Maker.

Thanks again for your input and for a great product.

Willard

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Willard,

Do you have any pictures you can share of your bread having been steamed? I ordered a kit minus the stone last week and have a lookout posted for the UPS guy.

 

Eric

Willard Onellion's picture
Willard Onellion

Sorry, Eric, I have no pictures.

Willard

gt's picture
gt

"One of the techniques that I worked through in the development of the Steam Maker Bread Baker is pouring hot water into a pan full of heated rocks. This method does generate steam. Unfortunately, most of it dissipates before you can close the oven door."

 

Mark, I agree that most steam dissipates when pouring water on hot rocks with the oven door open. I have found that by running a copper tube down through my gas oven vent that I can generate enough steam to do a lot of good and keep the door closed. Here's a picture of a loaf I did yesterday using this method plus one from a while back.

 

 

Here's a picture of my oven minus the pizza stone.

 

scott lynch's picture
scott lynch

That is a very cool setup.  I don't know if I could stand all the explaining if people walking through my kitchen were to see that.
I am using a similar rig but without the extensive installation.  I use a length of copper pipe with a funnel attached to it and I slide it down into the iron skillet by cracking the door a tiny amount.  I pour 1-2 cups of water down the tube, most of which vaporizes instantly, and I pull the tube out and shut the door right away.
Yes, using the door does cost you some heat, but if you have 2 iron pans, a pile of rocks, and a baking stone (or in my case, 2 stones) you have lots of thermal mass in there--I think you'd recover the temp very quickly.  I am certainly getting better oven spring this way that when I was using spray bottles and the like.
One note: river rocks can sometimes crack or burst (at times rather violently) if they are heated.  I don't know that this would be an issue with an oven, but I do know they can sometimes "explode" if thrown into a campfire.  So be careful with your pan of stones if this applies to you.

steam maker's picture
steam maker

GT, I've seen your rig in other postings before.  My hat's off to you for coming up with an ingenious way to address this problem.  I tried to fashion something similar early on, but neither of my ovens allowed me to run a tube through the vents the way you show.

The ears on your bread and the expansion at the slits suggest that you are getting a good spring in the oven. 

Have you ever measured vaporization rate?  A steam generator can be sized by the rate at which it converts water to steam.  A simple experiment might entail adding a known mass of water and observing how long it takes to completely turn to steam.  It would probably take a series of experiments with different amounts of water to zero in on an answer.  From that figure and a measure of the volume of your oven, you could compare your rig to the steam generation / oven volume ratio of a professional oven.  The following link has some good information on steam generators and professional baking ovens.  http://www.reimersinc.com/app_2.htm 

Have you tried blocking the vents to contain the steam for the first ten minutes or so of baking?

Mark

gt's picture
gt

Thanks Mark. I haven't measured the vaporization rate but I can say a few more things about this setup.

 

Before I load the bread, I put 1/2 to 3/4 cup of water in the empty skillet and that just boils off in 10-15 minutes to create moisture. Immediately after I load the bread, I pour approximately 3/4 of a cup of hot water down the copper tube onto the rocks. When the water hits the rocks it makes a lot of instance steam, enough to puff out around the oven door and up through the vent. It also steams up the kitchen windows. I do put a towel loosely over vent on top but it doesn't seem to do much good plus I can't really recommend it anyway for safety (CO) reasons.

 

I have always thought creating steam was less of a problem in an electric oven due to much less venting. I asked about this in this thread a few weeks ago. "Steam - Gas vs. Electric Oven"

 

www.thefreshloaf.com/node/1733

 

 

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Last night I baked off a batch of the BBA French bread formula in the Bread Baker Steam Maker. It was my first batch and I fumbled around a little trying to figure out the work flow but in the end everything went well. I steamed for 20 seconds and let cover remain on for 8 minutes upon which I removed it and continued for an additional 10 minutes. At that time I checked the internal temp (205) and removed the light golden demi baguettes. They were crispy and I would say even delicately crispy. You could easily squeeze the crust and feel the soft chewy crumb below and yet hear the crack of the surface carmelization. Exactly the way they do it in Paris! I paced around for a long time while they cooled some (10 minutes) and broke out the knife. This was an incredible moment for me as I have obsessed for longer than I care to admit over trying to make a true French Baguette. The flavor and texture were the best I have had in the US. This is victory for me as an home baker.

 When I think about all the steps I have taken to generate a large volume of steam in my oven and how effective or rather ineffective it was, it makes me wonder what the best solution might be. Clearly the steam generator is way way more effective than tossing a cup of boiling water on hot rocks in a cast iron pan and trying to close the door quickly. This is a good technique that is safe use and won't warp the oven walls or crack the glass.

I also tried the "No Knead" bread formula baked on the stone, covered with the steam cover instead of plopping it into a cast iron pot. I steamed it for 20 seconds and removed the cover in 10 minutes for a total bake time of 23 minutes at 450. I had proofed in a banneton basket and attempted a slash that worked fairly well. The bread was/is wonderful with nice open crumb and a golden crispy crust. Much better looking than the blob that came out of the dutch oven.

I'll get some images up in the next few days.

Cliff Johnston's picture
Cliff Johnston

I use an old stainless steel roast pan that at one time I was going to throw out.  I keep it on the bottom rack of my oven.  In it is a brick that I have cut in half.  When I want to produce steam I pour in boiling water.  Voila!  All the steam that I want, and produced at a very low cost indeed.

Any metal container will work.  As for the brick I cut it in half so that it would fit in a pot, and I could boil it for 20 minutes to kill off anything that might be lurking inside somewhere - highly unlikely, but it made me feel better.

One does need to remember though that several sayings cover this type of merchandise...1.  There's a sucker born every minute...  2.  Some people have more money than brains...  etc..

Cliff. Johnston
"May the best you've ever seen,
 Be the worst you'll ever see;"
from A Scots Toast by Allan Ramsay

ehanner's picture
ehanner

While I can appreciate your need for thrift, the benefit of being able to produce a high humidity environment to bake in without creating a huge cloud of steam in the kitchen also has it's benefits. I'm trying to find a safer way to bake without introducing moisture into the electronics of the oven. I think these guys came up with a pretty interesting idea and it works better for me than pouring boiling water into a very hot pan while leaning over the door. My 14 year old can operate the steam generator safely as I help her learn to bake and turn out great bread. Some people like to experiment with new ways to ride an old horse.

 

Eric

rc_czarny's picture
rc_czarny

AS Cliff said.

I 've been following this discussion.Points re water and steam well taken, Hmm....

why commertial ovens use steam injectors not water injectors?? 

Also how to replicate this at home?

Hmm....

Go to Linens & Things or google Shark steam cleaner 30$ use with your oven

or upgrade get any stainless steal pan which  will cover your loaves drill small hole in it

15$ if you like results every time you eat your bread send mi blessing in your thoughts,if

you dont sell it on e-bay.

At any rate you dont need to pay me any royalties. Enjoy.

 

Cliff Johnston's picture
Cliff Johnston

...cloud of steam in the kitchen is produced. That's a bit of gross exaggeration. There is a small cloud of steam produced initially, in my experience. I've yet to have a problem with it - real or imaginary. If one is concerned about introducing water into the pan then one can use a metal garden watering can with a long spout. I bought one on eBay for 99 cents - don't use it for the bread though as the steam doesn't bother me.

For those of you who have tried rocks, my advice is to switch to a brick. It is pourous and will produce steam as long as there is water in the pan. Note that "STEAM" is produced with this method - not a spray of water.

Eric, I can appreciate your concern for your 14 year old. It's always a good policy to encourage good habits.

Cliff. Johnston
"May the best you've ever seen,
 Be the worst you'll ever see;"
from A Scots Toast by Allan Ramsay

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

to their opinion. I also think everyone should respectfully express them. The owner of the company and some of the peeps who post have found this to work for them. Each to their own, rather than your opinion of them being idiots.

Floydm's picture
Floydm

No one called anyone an idiot, though perhaps it was implied. Please let us deescalate this rather than pouring more fuel on the fire.

saraugie's picture
saraugie

Oops

rc_czarny's picture
rc_czarny

I'm sorry,I am new here ,and while my post may have been sarcastic it was not ment to be deregatory in any sense .Is steam is better from injector or from pan in the oven  I dont  know  I use  steam  generator  (1000 W steam cleaner   bought in local  home supply /linen store which looks  very very  similar to "steam baker" ) is  able to produce continous stream of steam for aprox 10 min.and and costs 39 dollars not 200. and no I am not company owner or even stakeholder.Just wonted to share info with a group.

steam maker's picture
steam maker

I'm the owner of the Steam Maker Bread Baker Company and I'd like to add a few comments on the most recent posts.

There are two people contributing to this thread who have actually tested our product and both are very happy with their purchases.  Our product made a significant enough difference in their bread baking results that they felt compelled to take the time and share their experiences.  And potentially subject themselves to the type of abuse you sometime get in the blogosphere.

Some posters have pointed out that you can duplicate my product and probably do if cheaper.  I'd be curious to hear what product exists in the market right now that you cant' say that about.  Often when you purchase a product you are buying not just the hardware, but convenience, design (steamer, stone and lid that are sized and work together), time saving (add the hours you spend researching, driving around, modifying a lid, etc.) and support.

I know plenty of home bread bakers that don't get my product.  No problem.  They're not my audience.

Those of you that are happy with the existing spring in the oven and crust that you get ... God bless and enjoy your bread!

Floydm's picture
Floydm

I think this debate hinges less on the quality of the product in question than on how different people value their time and money.

I for one fall into the camp of people who would not spend over $100 bucks for *any* single purpose device for my kitchen. Heck, my standmixer barely cost more than that (correction, I spent 79 bucks on it). But I am, without a question, a skinflint: I buy my clothes at Goodwill, don't have cable TV, have a $5 a month cell phone plan, pick up pennies on the street even when they are on tails, and return my pop cans for the 5 cent deposit. Ha: thinking about any single purpose gadgets in my kitchen, my coffee maker came free when I signed up for an account at Gevelia (which I quickly cancelled after the first order). Don't even get my wife started about the green sweater that I refuse to throw out or what it takes to get me to throw out an old pair of socks. And, personally, I would get more pleasure out of using my ingenuity to come up with a clever set up like gt did than buying a product even if the end results weren't as good. So I'm in the camp of people that probably would not be interested in purchasing your product.

That said, I've been emailing with Mark at your company and am going to be evaluating your product in the next few weeks. My expectation, based on the comments from folks who've actually used it, is to be able to notice a significant difference in my crust. As you point out, none of the people that have posted here who have actually used your product have been disappointed by it. And your pricing isn't unreasonable, given the prices that kitchen gadgets run. I know I'd certainly rather see people spend their gadget money supporting a small businessman trying to cater to the amateur baker like you or the Super Peel guys than spend it at Williams-Sonoma. What could $200 bucks buy there? A couple of tea towels? A corkscrew?

alconnell's picture
alconnell

Let me also chime in as one who suggested alternatives:

I too am someone who tries to "make do" but I love gadgets!  I wish my budget allowed for more of them.  I would love to have a Steam Maker and also the HearthKit that KAF has.  Both are a little out of my range right now.  But those of us in the quest for the perfect loaf are inventive and that is why there is  a Steam Maker as well as HearthKit.  More power to you! It's what makes America great and I'm sure there are plenty of customers for you. 

pizzameister's picture
pizzameister

Floyde,

Thanks for the Super Peel plug.

I often feel as though I am overcharging people for my Super Peel.  But, if one realizes what it costs to manufacture and market a new product 'round these here parts, they might be less quick to judge.  I can share with you what I have been struggling with.  Not complaining at all, just information.

The board alone for my Super Peel costs me 13.50 each, to get it made in quantity and shipped to my "fullfilment house".  No effort has been spared trying to find a reliable US or Canadian manufacturer who can do it for less.  By using the sheltered workshop network, I have been able to keep the total cost of this product to about 17.50.  When you compare to overseas manufactured goods that are marketed by the big guys, there is no way to be competitive.  You can buy a nice peel for about $15 - $20 ($27 at the aforementioned "WS" store).  I happen to know that the cost of the US manufacturing for the one they sell is about $8.  The profits required by all the links in the marketing chain make it retail for 3 1/2 times what it cost to actually make. Most product categories have much higher total markups of 6X or more, and it is particularly tough on the little guy whose sales are small and overhead relatively higher.

Even though I sell my Super Peels for $34.00, I make much less than $10 on each one, after all overhead is factored in.  If I were to offer it in the big stores (Bed, Bath and Beyond asked for it this past Fall), even if I only made 1 or 2 dollars profit on each, it would end up selling (Not!) for about $55.  I am being forced to look at quotes from overseas manufactures at this point, so that I can offer the product more broadly at a palattable price.

It would be better for this country if more people would consider what they waste on more or less disposable goods and products and things that break, not to mention take out food and coffees, on a daily or weekly basis.  I understand that a lot of members on this group may be of a more frugal nature, and do not mean to include you in this category.  But, when it comes to buying durable goods,  things that will last you for 5-10 or many more years, please consider buying American, even if it costs 2X as much.  A lot of us would be way better off with less stuff and seeking better quality stuff that we do buy.

PM (An American Inventrepeneur)

Trishinomaha's picture
Trishinomaha

Pizzameister - I total agree with you. We've looked at your peel and loved it. We will probably be ordering in the next few months when the year end bonus comes in.

Trish

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Well said, pizzameister.

It takes an amazing amount of of hard work for a small businessperson to try to get a product off the ground these days, particularly if they are try to manufacture it domestically. I certainly admire anyone dedicated enough to try it.

Any chance you see the series on Pen Again in the Wall Street Journal the past 6 months or so? It has been following what it like when a small, two man business manages to get their product into Walmart. Then Office Depot and Staples want it. Each store has its own demands in terms of payment, packaging, display, and so on. The guys end up enlisting their wives, parents, kids, friends, basically everyone they know so that they can make the deliveries on time. Fascinating.

How is your business these days?

pizzameister's picture
pizzameister

Floyd,

I cannot complain about business.  Super Peel sales doubled in '06 from '05.  Thanks to all of my customers who might read this.  Not like I can live off of it or anything.  I guess more of a labor of love still.  I am happy to be able to provide the product, and from feedback I get it seems that 100% of my customers are very happy with it.  Cool!  :-)

I regret the overseas production foray, but I plan to keep the Made In America version always available, however that all goes.

PM 

www.superpeel.com

 

JIP's picture
JIP

Even closer this is the steamer used in the steambreadbaker but it is $40 with a used chafing dish lid that you can find online relatively cheaply and if you already have a stone (I use unglazed tiles less than $5 for about a dozen way more than I needed to fill my oven) http://www.amazon.com/STEAMFAST-STEAM-CLEANER-900WATTS-MIN/dp/B000M470I4/ref=sr_1_54/103-9350429-6777424?ie=UTF8&s=kitchen&qid=1173490192&sr=1-54 I can see how you could sell all three items for $200 if you give people convenience a large percentage of people would rather avoid doing things themselves like putting packages like this together.  That being said I really dont think those people are spending 2 sometimes 3 days to make a loaf of bread not to mention the time it takes to care for and feed a starter.  Just my2 cents. 

flournwater's picture
flournwater

Let's see now.  My locally delivered household water costs me 1/2 cent per quart.  I usually use about that much water in the oven to generate steam for bread  making.  If this steam maker gadget costs $200, it would require 40,000 loaves of bread to amortize the purchase.  Even at $45 it would require 9,000 loaves to amortize the expenditure.  I think I'll stick with the heated bowl of water in the oven trick.

darellmatt's picture
darellmatt

Let me throw my hat in the fray regarding the steam maker bread baker. 


I just  bought one and have two loaves in the oven right now of Thom Leonard's Country French Loaf that I steamed using it. 


I bought the large size stone, and the 6 inch pan to go with it. 


I personally think the price is reasonable considering what my time is worth and how much of it I would have to spend tracking down the pieces to replicate what he has done. 


I have no problem with the idea of generating steam in a pan with rocks or bricks or whatever. The problem I have is that our oven has 2 vent fans that run automatically when the oven is on, they suck the steam out very quickly if I use a rock-pan method.


Steam maker generates steam quickly, efficiently and reliably. Also, truth be told, I like gadgets. It's OK if you don't, my wife doesn't so I keep it in the garage when not in use. 


So point one is that I believe the product performs as advertised: you get a steamy enclosed environment for the first phase of your baking. When you are ready you remove the pan and brown your crust. 


My only bone to pick is that the stone supplied appears to be made of cast concrete. The supplied instructions ask you to place this in the oven for an hour at 200 degrees, then an hour at 300 degrees, then an hour at 400 degrees, etc up to the maximum temperature of your oven. Ostensibly this is to dry the stone and prevent cracking. However I noticed an unpeasant chemical smell coming from the oven at 300 degrees, which alarmed me at the thought of transmitting that to my bread. I don't want my bread to smell like concrete, harmless or not. 


I went ahead and completed the thermal steps as recommended. However after the stone cooled I decided to completely coat it with vegetable oil and bake it again as if I were seasoning an iron fry pan. I did two layers of vegetable oil seasoning to seal the stone and insure that there is a gas and vapor barrier between whatever residual chemicals might be in the stone, and my bread. 


I am comfortable with this solution, and the brown seasoned stone is actually more attractive than the drab grey one that arrived. Nonetheless I would prefer a stone that is made of natural stone, and when time permits I will probably approach the granite dealer whose shop is next to my business, and ask if he will cut me a scrap of natural stone 3/4 inch thick to use instead of this slab of concrete. 


But as for the system, i am very pleased. 

A_McIntosh's picture
A_McIntosh

It seems that your use of oil to season the stone and create a barrier is the way to go.  How did that work out for you?  I just got a UPS delivery with the pan and the stone.  Did the stone ever crack from use of oil on only one side?  Was this not a problem?  Or did you get a piece of granite and toss the cast concrete before using it extensively?

saraugie's picture
saraugie

I really like using this kit.  The stone fits perfect on my oven rack.  After following instructions on how to make the stone ready for use by increasing the temp by 100 degrees till 600 or the highest possible, in my case 500, and letting it stay at that temp for 1.5 hours, there is absolutely no smell nor transfer of taste from putting food directly onto it.


The lid fits perfectly and will accommodate anything I can think of to cook under it.


The steamer unit itself, is made of high quality parts as it feels to me.


Mark Schimpf, the owner could not have been more accommodating and helpful. He always answered my inquiry's via email thoroughly and usually within 20 minutes!


I feel that I got a major boost to my bread baking technique with having steam already made and I am in complete control of how much to use for how long. Also the safety factor to body and oven is without measure.


Thank you Mark and TFL for making this available and known to exist.

MichaelH's picture
MichaelH

I have one, it works, I like it and I would buy it again. Did I waste my money? In my eyes no, but it's mine to waste.


I see a lot of envy and bitterness in this thread, too bad.