The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Did steam break my oven??

Sylviambt's picture

Did steam break my oven??

Hi all,
I'm sitting here without an oven! It went down with my last batch of ciabatta. It won't go above 350 degrees F and the preheat light (an indicator) stays on instead of shutting off. Like most of you, I toss a cup or more of hot water into a cast iron skillet on the bottom of the oven when I put my loaves on the preheated stone -- lots of steam. Do you think this could have killed the sensors in my oven? Any of you had a similar experience?
and, now, a working oven!

Floydm's picture

JMonkey had a similar experience. I thought his oven came back to life after it dried out, but now reading back through his blog it looks like he may have needed to have it repaired.

JMonkey's picture

Indeed, it did briefly come back to life, but it died once again soon after. The repair guy said that the super heated steam went rigt through the digital controls, completely frying them.

I still steam my oven, but I've not tried to block the vents anymore, and haven't had any trouble.

You know, for ciabatta, you might want to think about using a cloche. I don't do hearth breads very often, but if I did, I'm pretty sure that's what I'd get.

Sylviambt's picture

Wow, this does sound similar. My variation is that the oven really never hits the desired temp no matter what the digital readout states. My good old analog oven thermometer tells the story - the oven won't go above 350 degrees. But yes, it looks like that Maytag guy is going to have to get up and actually do some work.
In search of the perfect crust & crumb

manxman's picture

I burnt out my element trying to put steam inside.
As an Engineer I should have known better
Neff the expensive oven makers in europe ( do not know if they have them in US) have a special programme for proving bread but BIG WARNING saying do not put water in hot oven

I think the electrical house oven can cope with steam as found with evaporation from normal cooking but throwing in water is taking a big risk.

try a gas oven with simple non electric controls

Paddyscake's picture

May I make a suggestion? I preheat my electric oven to 500 for a 1/2 hour or so then place
a 9x13 metal baking pan with about an 1 1/2" of hot water in the oven for 10 minutes at least.
You will see steam rising out of the vents. I get nice crispy crusts, good color, blistering.
Maybe not such a sudden shock of steam..but a gradual build up is a safer method for the home

KazaKhan's picture

I think a whole cup or more of water is way too much. I use about 100ml at the very most which is less than half a cup...

Floydm's picture

I've used a cup to 2 cups of water probably 100 times in this oven and a similar number of times in my previous oven and never had any problems. Both were relatively recent models, with digital timers on them and such. So... I'm not sure this proves anything, but it does show that some ovens can handle it fine.

I am going back and adding disclaimers to some of the recipes and places where people talk about steaming the oven so folks at least realize there is some risk involved in doing it.

bakerboy99's picture


i have tried the water in a pan and it does work ok. but i prefer to use a spray bottle and spray the bread just as i put it into the oven,it seems to work well.

qahtan's picture


 I do have the proofing programme in my oven also a dehydrator programme,

along with 3 elements, back, top and bottom the bottom one is hidden.

 I  hardly ever spray my bread and never never the oven walls, and never a pan of water.

 I don't understand all the shamozzle about a crispy crust, if you use a cloche the crust is fabulous,,,,, try it , you"l like it.   :-)))) qahtan   

John J.'s picture
John J.

Thanks for the posts so far on this subject. BUT, for those of you that have had good oven experiences, WHICH ones do you recommend? Thanks,

John J. in Marfa, TX