has anyone a better way to steam the oven then ice in a loaf pan or boiling water in a cast iron skillet or pyrex?
I use a plastic spray bottle set on a wide mist spray and spray my loaves jsut as they go into the oven and then spray them again after about 15 minutes - I get a nice, brown, chewy crust that's not too thick.
Steam is effective during the first 5-10 minutes of the bake - too much steam and you might wind up with a soft crust. Each time you open the oven door, you lose heat.
A few ice cubes can be used to humidify the oven about five minutes or so before you plan to load the bread, but I don't think they are a such a great source of steam. You don't need boiling water - hot water will do just fine. Dan DiMuzio recently commented on this here.
If you really want to take steaming to the next level, TFL member SteveB created a very impressive steaming method - watch his video here
I haven't tried rigging such a unit yet, but it sure is tempting!
SteveB steaming looks very interesting.
IMHO, the very best way to steam bread is to cover it for the first half of the baking time. No ice, no hot water, no McGyveresque contraptions.
The dough has moisture in it and it's usually enough to provide just the amount of steam you need. If it's a particularly low hydration formula, you can help it along by spritzing your dough with water before covering it, but that's rarely necessary.
You will be amazed at the results--crisp, crackly crusts and oven spring that will knock your socks off!
Furthermore, this is a very safe way to do it. No sputtering and spitting hot water and steam threatening to burn you. No risk to the glass in your oven door. No excess moisture to harm to the delicate electronic components of modern fancy ovens.
You don't need anything fancy or expensive to do it. You can find a big foil turkey roasting pan at the grocery store or Dollar store. (Check out this page on Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day--you don't have to be making their bread for this to work). As long as the pan is big enough to contain your risen bread and not so big that it is bigger than your stone, you're in business.
I got a big oval enamel roasting pan at Goodwill for just a few dollars and it doesn't get all banged up and bent out of shape like the inexpensive foil pan.
Or you can use something else you might have around the house, as long as it's oven proof AND you can handle it safely when it's very HOT. Some people use Pyrex bowls and such, but they are very hard to handle when very hot. So use common sense. Be careful when taking a hot glass vessel out of the oven--it can shatter if you put it on a very cool or wet surface!
If you want to get fancier, there are options such as clay bakers like La Cloche (a clay baker designed for bread making), Romertopf, and other clay baking vessels, stoneware pans, stock pots (make sure the handles are oven proof), etc.
It's not as exciting and adrenaline producing as other methods, but it works great.
What do you cover with the roasting pan, one batard shaped loaf? One or two round loaves? I am asking because I have used all the skillet and lava rocks and hot water and spritzing techniques that everybody points out over the years with success but nothing works as well as covering and trapping in the dough's own moisture like your picture, I have recently been using the one round loaf at a time in a stock pot and love the results, except for the one at a time limitation. The novelty (and yes, adrenaline) of uncovering the loaf halfway through the bake and seeing the exceptional oven spring is already wearing off for me because of this. I think it is waste to heat up the oven and bake a single loaf, when I normally bake four at a time. Can you bake two at once under there? If so, what size is your roasting pan?
I'm on my mobile right now and can't do photo links, but I can do two 1 lb boules or skinny baguettes at once under the enamel roaster. If you go to my blog (www.babybobbysbreadblog.blogspot.com) you can see two boules baked together this weekend (I trapped a little of one edge under the roaster--oops!)
Saw your pics. 1 lb is a little small and still catching the lid, and my loaves are usually 1.5 lbs so I would still only be baking .5 lb of bread at a time than in the stock pot.
My breads were pretty far apart--It was my fault I caught the edge of one loaf with the lid--they could have been a bit closer together on the stone and all would have been well. I THINK I could fit two 1.5 lb loaves under there, though I haven't tried it.
I'd like to come up with a lid that fits over even more of the stone. Actually, I had a BIG rectangular aluminum foil roasting pan that fit almost perfectly on the stone and had more room than my enamel roaster but no place to put the darn thing when I wasn't using it. It ended up getting pretty bent up and ugly, and when it doesn't lay flat on the stone it's not so good at trapping the moisture.
If your 1.5 lb. loaves are ROUND, you might like to use two clay bakers at once. They are very reasonable here even with shipping costs (much less than La Cloche). Check around that site for other sizes, too. I have the 10.5 inch baker and it's my favorite "cloche" technique of all, but I only have one so I couldn't use it for the "head to head test" you saw on my website. I preheat the lid in the oven, but proof the dough into the unheated base (a la Rose Levy Beranbaum) and it works very well. I am also experimenting with putting barely proofed dough into the clay baker and a cold oven to reduce the energy waste. There are some posts about doing that here on TFL.
I made a Levy's rye bread from Rose Levy Beranbaum's bread book Sunday. This bread has the most incrdible oven spring and a beautiful crumb and flavor. I baked it in my 10 1/2" clay baker. The finished loaf was just shy of 2 lbs--1:14.9. I think that is the limit for this baker, but that's more than I guesstimated.
Sorry, metropical, regardless of what you read or hear, water cannot turn to steam until it reaches its boiling point. That's not my fault, it's a fact of science.* Water will steam more quickly if it's introduced as a fine mist and sprayed into a super heated environment. But if the spray is too cold and contacts a temperature sensitive surface (e.g. baking stone) the surface that it contacts will often crack. Many baking stones have been ruined when cold water is sprayed on them in an oven. As an aside, keep in mind that every time you spray a mist into the hot oven, the temperature of the oven drops dramatically. It has not choice. When some of it's heat goes to turn the droplets of water into steam, it's temperature cannot remain constant.
In a container, the vessel must first reach the proper boiling temperature (212 degrees fahrenheit - 100 degrees celcius - at sea level) before the water can attain that temperture. I know, I know. You've read and heard a lot from people who are widely experienced in bread baking about generting steam in an oven who claim they know some secret way of producing steam without boiling water. But it doesn't matter whether you rely on nuclear fission or a camp fire, water will not turn to steam until it reaches 212 fahrenheit at sea level.
When I use a spray bottle to spritz the loaf in the oven, I make certain the water in the bottle is very warm (like hot) and I avoid spraying directly onto the loaf so the water doesn't make immediately contact with the stone.
Personally, I often us the technique suggested by janknitz. It eliminates a lot of guesswork.
*physics - the laws of thermodynamics
thanks guys. I'll try that method Janknitz. Me likey simple!
To give credit where due, Susan of San Diego introduced that technique here some time ago. It's fondly called Susan's Magic Bowl technique and if you do a TFL search using those terms, you'll come across her quite wonderful recipes for a lovely sourdough boule that's baked under the bowl.
I use an inverted disposable aluminum lasagna pan (like $3.00). Aluminum has a low speicific heat and is very thin, so it heats (and cools) VERY quickly. This eliminates the need to heat the vessel with the oven. I put the shaped dough on the stone and invert the lasagna pan over it. Ten minutes later, take of the pan. Two minutes later, the pan is cool enough to touch. Although the pan is disposable, I reuse mine over and over.
Sometimes I spritz the inside of the pan with water to add extra water for evaporation. However, spritz or no spritz seems to work fine.
I could see a potential value though, if you are quick about things, to having the heat-mass of the preheated roasting pan around it, particularly for those of us with a crappy oven.
I am going to have to try some of this out!
can't bring myself to pour water on the oven floor without a pan.