The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

A different way to steam

GlendaLynne's picture

A different way to steam

Thinking about boiling bagels, I decided to try placing my sourdough bread into a steam oven for a few minutes before baking.

I am now routinely slashing, steaming for 4 minutes, and then transferring the loaf to the convection oven to bake.

I have also used this method for yeast loaves:

Yeast loaves

Another method I have tried is to steam on the cooktop using a steaming saucepan and an appropriate pan. This gives a very similar result to the steam oven, but is restrictive in the size and shape of loaf.

Here are 3 loaves made at the same time for comparison.

Top: Sprayed with water before placing in oven.
Left: Steamed on cooktop
Steamed in steam oven.

We enjoy the rather chewy thin crust, and I particularly like the sheen obtained.

breadinquito's picture

Hi from Quito...the best results I got about the topic  (steam to get a crispy crust and a "wow" colour") was using a couple of alluminium disposable pans like the ones where you would tipically bake a thanksgiving turkey (for istance): I put my bread in the first, a few drops of water in the second, I cover and bake for about 20 minutes, then I remove the upper pan and another 20 minutes of cooking...yesterday night kneaded some sourdough bread and it's now rising for the second time, at 12 I' bake and in the afternoon I will be glad to send you a couple of pics...happy baking from Quito. Paolo

AnnaInMD's picture

where does pan #2 go with the few drops of water ?  is THAT the cover ?

or do you set #1 pan into #2 pan and if yes, aren't they the same size ? how does the steam get out ?  and what do you use for a cover ?

Thank you !


ladychef41's picture

Excellent idea and BEAUTIFUL breads!!! And no better proof of; "necessitiy is the mother of invention"!!!!

LindyD's picture

Could you describe the make and model?  Is it a separate stand alone unit made specifically for steaming purposes, such as the units used to steam hotdog and hamburger buns?

Interesting comparison on the three boules.  The one just misted with water before baking has the most open scores, while the scores on the boule placed in the steam oven didn't really open.  Maybe too much steam?

Would love to see some crumb photos if you have them.  

GlendaLynne's picture

Re the type of steam oven, see the separate post added to the blog.

Re the three boules. All three ended up about the same volume. I suspect that the two which were steamed in the steam oven and the saucepan have such a soft and wet 'crust' when placed into the oven they are able to expand uniformly over the entire loaf without tearing, and therefore do not develop very open scores.

I am new (approx 6 weeks) to sourdough baking, although have been baking yeast bread for nearly 40 years. I am finding the new experience exciting and challenging. This site has been most helpful.

The loaf below is a wholewheat and walnut loaf baked 2 days ago,and photographed today. It was baked a little longer than I usually do, but shows the crumb.

Hope that helps!



LindyD's picture

I'm sure you'll work it out as your experiements progress, however, too much steam definitely will prevent the cuts from fully springing open (Jeffrey Hamelman notes this in his discussion of steaming at pp 26-27 of "Bread, A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes").  The difference in the opening of the cuts is what caught my eye in your three-boule photo.

BTW, you might enjoy David Snyder's post on scoring.  Great photos and explanations; some day I hope to achieve that level of perfection.

Nice looking wholewheat loaf.

breadinquito's picture

but cause of the world crisis no prices :)...actually the answer A is the right one...and YES the pans are of the same size! cheers and happy day!

GlendaLynne's picture

The steam oven is a Miele DG1050. It is used domestically for a wide range of steaming.

The saucepan method I used:


(Today in Brisbane Australia the forecast temperature today is 34C and high humidity. I have a couple of friends coming around for a baking session. A cooler day would have been much nicer.)







amazonium's picture

I, too, shall have to play with steam. Beautiful bread, BTW.