The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Steam - Gas vs. Electric Oven

gt's picture

Steam - Gas vs. Electric Oven

Anyone have experience baking/steaming in both a gas and an electric oven?

I’ve always thought I had a harder time getting steam into my gas then people did with their electric ovens. So I took a good look at my gas oven and my Son’s electric oven and found quite a difference. Both ovens are older (maybe 10-20 years old) plain Jane consumer type ovens. Here’s what I found.

Electric Oven:
1. No bottom vent(s).

2. Has only one round top vent approximately 1 inch in diameter but it contains a perforated disk with maybe 1/8 inch holes in it. This results in a vent area of probably 0.5 sq inches or less.

3. There is a gasket around the door.

Gas Oven:
1. Two 1/2 x 10 inch bottom vents.

2. One top vent 3.75 inches square. This results in a vent area of 14 sq inches.

3. There is no gasket around the door plus there are little flat tabs that keep the door from sealing when closed.

Thanks Gary

subfuscpersona's picture

I agree that a "plain jane" gas oven has a problem holding steam. My oven is gas, my Mom's is electric. The electric oven doesn't dissipate steam as quickly. No what steaming technique I use, the steam exits my gas oven through the vents so quickly it is hardly effective. None of the stuff I've read about steaming techniques talks about the oven - wonder why?

gt's picture

I know what you mean about getting a discussion going about ovens. I’ve always suspected the people that had good luck just spraying a little or putting a pan of water or a few ice cubes in the bottom of their ovens had electric ovens.


The only way I’ve found to get a good blast of steam in my gas oven is to pour a half cup to a cup of hot water down a copper tube (threaded through the top vent) into a cast iron skillet of river rocks. This method produces enough steam to pour out around the oven door and create a satisfactory crust on the bread. I put about 3/4 cup of hot water in the other skillet before I put the bread in the oven to raise the humidity for the first half of the baking time.


gas oven steam

SeligmansDog's picture

That's really clever and I'm impressed no kinks in the thin copper.  Very cool!

Floydm's picture

That is a cool setup, gt.

I've only had an electric oven since I've gotten seriously into baking. Here is my current setup:

My current technique is preheat the oven to the full 550. When it is time to bake, I take a cup of hot water from the tap then heat it for 1 minute in the microwave. When I put the loaves in the oven I pour the water into the cast iron pan on the floor of my oven then close the oven door. I then take another cup of water from the tap, heat it again, pour it in again, then reduce the heat to my normal baking temp around 460.

Let me repeat the disclaimer here about how a couple of people on this site have fried their oven's circuitry trying to fill it with steam. Steaming is critical to good crust formation, but side effects could include destruction of one's oven or personal injury. Proceed with any of the discussed techniques at your own peril!

bsherrill's picture

For those of you that haven't seen it, I just bought one of these steaming devices.  I was having trouble maintaining steam inside the oven.  Everything I tried wouldn't give the crisper crust and rise I was looking for.  Although a little extra work and expense, I decided to give it a try.  So far I've used it 3 times, twice on baguettes and once on a pane siciliano, with better results than any I've previously had without the device.  So I'm tempted to say, yes it works great, but in reality needs more testing than I have given it so far.  Let's just say the results are very promising! is the website you can look at it.  I am not affiliated with them in any way.  This is presented for information only.  It was worth it for me, but others may not care for the expense or the concept.


gt's picture

Thanks Ben, I've seen those and wondered how they work.  Please keep us updated as you use it more -gt



mountaindog's picture

This is an interesting thread but I am surprised people with gas ovens are having so much trouble with their crusts. I have a ordinary Sears Kenmore 30" gas range, nothing fancy like a wolf or viking, no convection, it does have a gasket around the door, though. I seem to get really great crusts on all my loaves by just using baking stones preheated to 500F and misting with a plant mister for the first 3 minutes of baking at 30 sec. intervals and quickly shutting the door and turning down to 425F. No cast iron pan of water or anything else. I aim the mister on the 2 sidewalls of the oven. Now, maybe I'm not actually getting any effect at all from the steam this way, as a lot of people suggest, but whatever it is it seems to work. The crusts are crispy and chewy, and stay that way even after 5-7 days stored in foil (a light rewarming in a toaster oven when ready to eat certainly helps after that many days though).


Maybe it's my baking stone setup that makes the difference: I have a similar setup to Floyd's above: I purchased 2 very inexpensive ($6 each) pieces of natural bluestone from a local stoneyard here in the Catskills (garden centers probably have them too), each slab measures 1/2 to 3/4 in. thick by 16 deep by 22 wide, fitting on my oven rack with about an inch all around open for heat flow. One slab is on the bottom-most rack of the oven, the other on the top-most rack of the oven. This leaves enough room for even a very large 4 lb boule to rise and bake, and the evenness of the browning is amazing, perfect on all sides, and the bottoms don't burn like they used to when I used a thinner smaller stone. Certainly works good enough for me for home baking anyhow. I also leave the stones in the oven all the time - we don't actually use the oven for anything other than baking or the occasional roast, and the stones don't seem to be in the way for the roasts, and maybe they improve them with more even heating. I don't have my digital camera right now to show my oven stones, but here is a photo of what irregular bluestone looks like right out of the quarry, it is much more durable than slate, I hope to make an outdoor wood-fired oven someday with this material or combined with mud like Breadnerd's:

elwoodhaley's picture

Thanks for sharing!

SeligmansDog's picture

I've used the convection setting at 500F and my oven is still humid at the end when baking lean breads.  When I open the door it's pretty darn steamy.  A small amount comes out the vent, but it's very restricted.  I'm going in tonight to see if there's  any way to alter the volume of gas that escapes. 

Anyone have the same problem?

jcking's picture

Maybe too much water (steam) is being used? Many books advise opening the oven door ( a small amount) for the last 5 mins of baking.

As an aside, gas vs electric, gas ovens need venting to provide fresh air for the flame. Fires need oxyen, electic ovens, with no flames, may be vented differently. Convection settings may restrict air flow.


SeligmansDog's picture

I used no additional steam/water.  The steam is from the bread itself.  Lately,  I've been baking mini rolls (50 g prebaked X 10-12).  The oven spring is pretty awesome as well as the taste, but they're not getting that last bit of crackly crust, which I'm assuming because the oven's still humid at the end. 

I look forward to trying the door open at the end of the cycle.  Thanks!

jcking's picture

Have you tried baking without the convection?


sobithongie's picture

I deleted a post I made involving blocking oven vents out of safety concerns.