The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Steam Pan on Top of Oven, not Bottom?

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NetherReine's picture
NetherReine

Steam Pan on Top of Oven, not Bottom?

I recently purchased Reinharts' BBA and I have a question about his method for steaming the oven.  He shows his steam pan on a rack at the very top of the oven - with the bread below.  I am a baking newb, and I'm curious why the steam would be above the bread and not below the bread?  Hopefully you experts can explain it to me.  Thanks!  :)

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Hi NetherReine,


I'm by no means any expert, but if you read the text at page 93, you'll see he says to place the steam pan on the top OR the oven floor.  For me, oven floor translates to a rack just above the oven floor.  


In the photos you noted, it could be he's placing it on the top because he doesn't want to bake the bread at a higher level and doesn't have enough room in the oven. 


Follow your instincts.  They seem pretty good.

NetherReine's picture
NetherReine

I totally missed that in the text - thanks for pointing it out for me!  So it seems that it is safe to place the steam pan on the bottom rack - I don't know why, but that "feels" preferrable to me.  Thanks again!

LindyD's picture
LindyD

When I pour hot water into the pan containing lava rocks resting on my bottom rack, I watch the explosion of vapor immediately rise and surround the bread.


If that pan were on a rack above the bread, I'd probably drop some hot water on the bread and get burned in the process.  


I'm sure there's a reason behind PR's process in that photo. Am just glad my oven has more room to work with.

 

pattycakes's picture
pattycakes

I missed the rationale behind using lava rocks. Would you please explain it to me?


I was using the steam pan/ cup of warm water on the bottom and then misting three times 30 seconds apart, then I started with a cup of warm water before the loaves go in then another 2 minutes later, and that works well, too. I'm always open for a new, better idea!


Thanks,


Patricia

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Patricia.


I learned about this from Lindy, but, as a convert, I'm going to respond.


When hot water is poured over pre-heated lava rocks, you get an absolutely explosive burst of steam. (Strongly suggest you wear an oven mitt when pouring!) The water is converted to steam almost all at once, which is more like what happens in a commercial steam injection oven, I think. 


I think this is because the rocks present a much greater surface area than the bottom of a skillet. 


I no longer open the oven repeatedly to spray the walls. This always bothered me because of the heat loss, and I didn't feel I was really getting all that much steam from the process.


The water evaporates completely too. I've wondered about doing a second pouring after 2 minutes or so but haven't tried it yet.


Honestly, I'm not sure I see an enormous difference in the resulting bread, but I've only used the lave rocks for a few weeks.


David

pattycakes's picture
pattycakes

One more thing to try in the quest for perfect bread! I made Hamelman's Vermont Sourdough with Whole Wheat yesterday using white whole wheat, and almost from the beginning it was a disaster. Interestingly enough, I didn't lose faith, and the end result was not just acceptable, but very good. It's a story I've seen before on TFL, and it's humorous, given all we do to try to get the fine points right. These loaves over-rose on the second fermentation because I got stuck in town. They stuck to the bannetons, they stuck to the paddle, and they went in the oven looking fairly bizarre.Still no photos, but someday...


Patricia