The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Steam Generation - an Idea

Scott M's picture
Scott M

Steam Generation - an Idea

Hi All.

First post here, although I've been a home baker for a while.

I've often grappled with the best way to generate steam, which we all know is needed for a yummy artisan crust. I've tried the water bottle spritzer and pouring water in a heavy pan, all with mixed results. Yesterday I came up with something good that I thought I'd share. It prolongs steam generation for approx 3 to 5 minutes, and avoids the big and sometimes dangerous "poof" that comes from dumping a large amount of water at once.

First the result, which turned out OK:





It is a typical four-ingredient French loaf, started with a poolish.

Now the method:
I drilled a small (approx 1/16") hole in the bottom of a small SS mixing bowl.


For an evaporator, I used a round pizza pan below the bottom rack.


Immediately after placing the loaf, I dumped about a cup of water into the bowl, which gradually drained through the small hole during the first few minutes of baking. As the water landed on the hot pizza pan below, it provided a nice steady cloud of steam.

Happy baking,

Scott.

Ford's picture
Ford

A large open pan to which boiling water is added just before putting the dough into the oven also works.


Ford

008cats's picture
008cats

I have run across this sort of idea using a muffin tin, perhaps to regulate the "drips per minute". I was thinking of doing something like your idea, as my oven vents so fast (yay gas!) that any amount in a pan boils dry in a minute or two.


If I get the nerve to sacrifice a stainless cooking implement, I will try this (I've tried everything else!).

Scott M's picture
Scott M

>>>as my oven vents so fast (yay gas!)


 


Ahhh... never thought of that. That must be part of my problem too.

008cats's picture
008cats

Yep - once I started to "presteam" the oven, I realized how fast the pan dried out (well, at least I don't have to remove the pan to crisp the crust with dry heat.)


To be honest, the most effective method I've found to date is to rig a terra cotta pot with a handle, preheat it hanging over the edge of the stone (so the interior heats up too), remove it to load the bread and then count the number of times I spray-mist inside (to gauge the right amount of steam) before I replace it to steam the loaf.


Note: if you soak the inside of the pot with water and insert it cold, you get so much steam that your loaf will look like a pile of mashed potatoes. Really gelatinous ones.


I still presteam and steam the oven just because I don't fix what ain't broke.


I just received an oven insert called "Steam Maker Bread Baker" so that I can do steam for larger loaves; was a little splurge for me (especially with the import tax). If you are interested, I can  let you know how that works out.


Oh yes, BTW, there are folks on this site who contain the steam in their gas ovens by blocking the exit in the back - they say it is safe - but my oven will not ignite this way, and I am too chicken to stick my arm all the way in when it's so hot.

davidbweiner's picture
davidbweiner

I have to say I'm impressed. So impressed I'm going to try this myself. My oven vents the steam very quickly (2 or 3 minutes) and so I have to keep adding more steam. I don't like opening the oven all the time because of the temperature variatins. This looks like a keeper! Thanks.


David


www.breadmantalking.blogspot.com

008cats's picture
008cats

I  got the idea, and oh SO much more, from the WildYeast website. The link will take you to Susan's page on steam; look around if you haven't been before...


http://www.wildyeastblog.com/2007/07/02/steam/#more-57


Cloches

Scott M's picture
Scott M

I notice she says, "An oven mitt is essential to keep my pouring hand from getting a steam burn, and a long-spouted watering can is a good idea too."


 


With the hole-in-bowl idea, the big dangerous poof doesn't happen. The hole drains slowly which makes for a prolonged, steady release of steam.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

with thick rims for €10  each.  I removed the handles and set up my steam capsule rim on rim.   Can't wait to try it on the next loaf.   Yes, no stone and on the rack.


Mini