The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Steam Maker Bread Baker Company

Willard Onellion's picture
Willard Onellion

Steam Maker Bread Baker Company

I don't remember where I first heard of the Steam Baker.

I bought one and am delighted!

It consists of a large 3/4" baking stone, a stainless steel cover, and a steam generator.

It replaces the need for the spritzing and spraying I have been doing since I began baking artisan breads.

To use it, you preheat the stone to 400 F. Place the bread on the stone, place the cover over the loaf/loaves, then spray steam thru a small hole in the cover for 10-15 seconds. Remove the lid after 10 minutes and continue the baking process.

I found it at www.steambreadmaker.com.

Pricey, but great.

 

alconnell's picture
alconnell

Glad to see a review of the steam baker.  I saw it too, but got scared off by the $200 price.  They do offer just the cover and steamer for less if you already have a stone. 

A couple alternatives I've discovered:

Baparoma (I think) makes an oblong metal pan with several layers that you can pour water in the bottom one and it steams.  I own one and it works great for baguettes, but not oval loaves or rolls.

Also, I decided to try to fashion my own steam baker after seeing their web site, since I already owned a stone and a steam cleaner.  I bought a full size 4" deep stainless pan from a supply co. and drilled a hold in the bottom of it.  I put it upside down over my stone, and inject my own steam.  I only used it the first time this morning and it worked great.  I'll experiment some more and post back. 

Willard Onellion's picture
Willard Onellion

Rena, I bake two loaves at a time.

The dimensions of the stainless steel lid are:

external dimensions including handle 21 x 12 ¾ x 5 ½
    -  inside dimensions 19 ½ x 11 ¼ x 4

There are two size stones sold.

Willard

Willard Onellion's picture
Willard Onellion

I value differeing opinions based on fact or experience.  This doesn't seem to be one.

I have used several stones and sprayed/spritzed my oven for years. I have also used two style La Cloche's with great success.

BUT, neither of these methods approach the success I have had with the  steam baker. As I said in my original post, it is pricey. I question whether this is a handheld clothing steamer. It seems much more heavy duty. But, I won't try to change your mind that seems to have been made up in advance of seeing or trying the rig.

Oh, yeah, it also comes with a heavy-duty stone that runs about $50-60 elsewhere.

sphealey's picture
sphealey

I know nothing of this product, and was a bit dubious myself (although RLB did recommend it and she normally tests everything to destruction herself). So I can't comment directly.

 

But I will point out that from a thermodynamic and chemistry standpoint there is a HUGE difference between steam and boiling water vapour. Boiling water vapour is what all the spritzing/cast iron/hot water/ice cube methods produce; steam is a horse of a different Mollier diagram. So if this thing actually injects steam into the oven it could be different.

 

KitchenAid, at least, now makes a home oven with a built-in steam geneartor. But it is in the US$4500 list range, which is a bit much for my budget ;-(

 

sPh

Willard Onellion's picture
Willard Onellion

I first attempted to make "real" French Bread according to Julia Child in her book on French Cooking some 27 years ago. I bought the tiles and put them in my oven. I got a container that would hold the water for the drop of red-hot iron to make the steam. I did not succeed.

I have, over the years, discarded the tiles, replacing them with "baking stones" of various thicknesses and sizes.

I have put hot objects into water, I have put water into, onto, etc in efforts to  make steam. I just wonder that my oven let me do all the things I have tried. As I progressed in baking experience and hopefully, in expertise, I have yearned for some semblance of the professional steam-injected oven, that is far beyond both my monetary level as well as room to accomodate it.

Over the past 16 months, I thought I had found the perfect compromise, the La Cloche, both the round and the batard shape.

The oven rise was better than I obtained with the spritzing/steaming method.

I finally found the system I described. It replicates, however weakly, the effects of the professional oven. I find that the results, especially of oven-spring are spectacular.

It is better in its results than cooking on the stone with spritzing/spraying, and even better than using the La Cloche, plus I can do two loaves at once.

If tiles satisfy you, stay with them. If any other system satisfies you, stay with it. I just  feel that I have found, costly or not, the step to the next level of baking excelle nce.

 

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

I value your review and 27 years of experience. At this point in my baking, I have many skills I will need to hone before I get to that level of baking. I do appreciate hearing baking experiences and products that are available. Thanks

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Last night I baked off a batch of the BBA French bread formula in the Bread Baker Steam Maker. It was my first batch and I fumbled around a little trying to figure out the work flow but in the end everything went well. I steamed for 20 seconds and let cover remain on for 8 minutes upon which I removed it and continued for an additional 10 minutes. At that time I checked the internal temp (205) and removed the light golden demi baguettes. They were crispy and I would say even delicately crispy. You could easily squeeze the crust and feel the soft chewy crumb below and yet hear the crack of the surface carmelization. Exactly the way they do it in Paris! I paced around for a long time while they cooled some (10 minutes) and broke out the knife. This was an incredible moment for me as I have obsessed for longer than I care to admit over trying to make a true French Baguette. The flavor and texture were the best I have had in the US. This is victory for me as an home baker.

 When I think about all the steps I have taken to generate a large volume of steam in my oven and how effective or rather ineffective it was, it makes me wonder what the best solution might be. Clearly the steam generator is way way more effective than tossing a cup of boiling water on hot rocks in a cast iron pan and trying to close the door quickly. This is a good technique that is safe use and won't warp the oven walls or crack the glass.

I also tried the "No Knead" bread formula baked on the stone, covered with the steam cover instead of plopping it into a cast iron pot. I steamed it for 20 seconds and removed the cover in 10 minutes for a total bake time of 23 minutes at 450. I had proofed in a banneton basket and attempted a slash that worked fairly well. The bread was/is wonderful with nice open crumb and a golden crispy crust. Much better looking than the blob that came out of the dutch oven.

I'll get some images up in the next few days.

Cliff Johnston's picture
Cliff Johnston

I use an old stainless steel roast pan that at one time I was going to throw out.  I keep it on the bottom rack of my oven.  In it is a brick that I have cut in half.  When I want to produce steam I pour in boiling water.  Voila!  All the steam that I want, and produced at a very low cost indeed.

Any metal container will work.  As for the brick I cut it in half so that it would fit in a pot, and I could boil it for 20 minutes to kill off anything that might be lurking inside somewhere - highly unlikely, but it made me feel better.

One does need to remember though that several sayings cover this type of merchandise...1.  There's a sucker born every minute...  2.  Some people have more money than brains...  etc..

Cliff. Johnston
"May the best you've ever seen,
 Be the worst you'll ever see;"
from A Scots Toast by Allan Ramsay

ehanner's picture
ehanner

While I can appreciate your need for thrift, the benefit of being able to produce a high humidity environment to bake in without creating a huge cloud of steam in the kitchen also has it's benefits. I'm trying to find a safer way to bake without introducing moisture into the electronics of the oven. I think these guys came up with a pretty interesting idea and it works better for me than pouring boiling water into a very hot pan while leaning over the door. My 14 year old can operate the steam generator safely as I help her learn to bake and turn out great bread. Some people like to experiment with new ways to ride an old horse.

 

Eric

Cliff Johnston's picture
Cliff Johnston

...cloud of steam in the kitchen is produced. That's a bit of gross exaggeration. There is a small cloud of steam produced initially, in my experience. I've yet to have a problem with it - real or imaginary. If one is concerned about introducing water into the pan then one can use a metal garden watering can with a long spout. I bought one on eBay for 99 cents - don't use it for the bread though as the steam doesn't bother me.

For those of you who have tried rocks, my advice is to switch to a brick. It is pourous and will produce steam as long as there is water in the pan. Note that "STEAM" is produced with this method - not a spray of water.

Eric, I can appreciate your concern for your 14 year old. It's always a good policy to encourage good habits.

Cliff. Johnston
"May the best you've ever seen,
 Be the worst you'll ever see;"
from A Scots Toast by Allan Ramsay

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

to their opinion. I also think everyone should respectfully express them. The owner of the company and some of the peeps who post have found this to work for them. Each to their own, rather than your opinion of them being idiots.

Floydm's picture
Floydm

No one called anyone an idiot, though perhaps it was implied. Please let us deescalate this rather than pouring more fuel on the fire.

saraugie's picture
saraugie

Oops

alconnell's picture
alconnell

Let me also chime in as one who suggested alternatives:

I too am someone who tries to "make do" but I love gadgets!  I wish my budget allowed for more of them.  I would love to have a Steam Maker and also the HearthKit that KAF has.  Both are a little out of my range right now.  But those of us in the quest for the perfect loaf are inventive and that is why there is  a Steam Maker as well as HearthKit.  More power to you! It's what makes America great and I'm sure there are plenty of customers for you. 

pizzameister's picture
pizzameister

Floyde,

Thanks for the Super Peel plug.

I often feel as though I am overcharging people for my Super Peel.  But, if one realizes what it costs to manufacture and market a new product 'round these here parts, they might be less quick to judge.  I can share with you what I have been struggling with.  Not complaining at all, just information.

The board alone for my Super Peel costs me 13.50 each, to get it made in quantity and shipped to my "fullfilment house".  No effort has been spared trying to find a reliable US or Canadian manufacturer who can do it for less.  By using the sheltered workshop network, I have been able to keep the total cost of this product to about 17.50.  When you compare to overseas manufactured goods that are marketed by the big guys, there is no way to be competitive.  You can buy a nice peel for about $15 - $20 ($27 at the aforementioned "WS" store).  I happen to know that the cost of the US manufacturing for the one they sell is about $8.  The profits required by all the links in the marketing chain make it retail for 3 1/2 times what it cost to actually make. Most product categories have much higher total markups of 6X or more, and it is particularly tough on the little guy whose sales are small and overhead relatively higher.

Even though I sell my Super Peels for $34.00, I make much less than $10 on each one, after all overhead is factored in.  If I were to offer it in the big stores (Bed, Bath and Beyond asked for it this past Fall), even if I only made 1 or 2 dollars profit on each, it would end up selling (Not!) for about $55.  I am being forced to look at quotes from overseas manufactures at this point, so that I can offer the product more broadly at a palattable price.

It would be better for this country if more people would consider what they waste on more or less disposable goods and products and things that break, not to mention take out food and coffees, on a daily or weekly basis.  I understand that a lot of members on this group may be of a more frugal nature, and do not mean to include you in this category.  But, when it comes to buying durable goods,  things that will last you for 5-10 or many more years, please consider buying American, even if it costs 2X as much.  A lot of us would be way better off with less stuff and seeking better quality stuff that we do buy.

PM (An American Inventrepeneur)

Trishinomaha's picture
Trishinomaha

Pizzameister - I total agree with you. We've looked at your peel and loved it. We will probably be ordering in the next few months when the year end bonus comes in.

Trish

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Well said, pizzameister.

It takes an amazing amount of of hard work for a small businessperson to try to get a product off the ground these days, particularly if they are try to manufacture it domestically. I certainly admire anyone dedicated enough to try it.

Any chance you see the series on Pen Again in the Wall Street Journal the past 6 months or so? It has been following what it like when a small, two man business manages to get their product into Walmart. Then Office Depot and Staples want it. Each store has its own demands in terms of payment, packaging, display, and so on. The guys end up enlisting their wives, parents, kids, friends, basically everyone they know so that they can make the deliveries on time. Fascinating.

How is your business these days?

pizzameister's picture
pizzameister

Floyd,

I cannot complain about business.  Super Peel sales doubled in '06 from '05.  Thanks to all of my customers who might read this.  Not like I can live off of it or anything.  I guess more of a labor of love still.  I am happy to be able to provide the product, and from feedback I get it seems that 100% of my customers are very happy with it.  Cool!  :-)

I regret the overseas production foray, but I plan to keep the Made In America version always available, however that all goes.

PM 

www.superpeel.com

 

JIP's picture
JIP

Even closer this is the steamer used in the steambreadbaker but it is $40 with a used chafing dish lid that you can find online relatively cheaply and if you already have a stone (I use unglazed tiles less than $5 for about a dozen way more than I needed to fill my oven) http://www.amazon.com/STEAMFAST-STEAM-CLEANER-900WATTS-MIN/dp/B000M470I4/ref=sr_1_54/103-9350429-6777424?ie=UTF8&s=kitchen&qid=1173490192&sr=1-54 I can see how you could sell all three items for $200 if you give people convenience a large percentage of people would rather avoid doing things themselves like putting packages like this together.  That being said I really dont think those people are spending 2 sometimes 3 days to make a loaf of bread not to mention the time it takes to care for and feed a starter.  Just my2 cents. 

flournwater's picture
flournwater

Let's see now.  My locally delivered household water costs me 1/2 cent per quart.  I usually use about that much water in the oven to generate steam for bread  making.  If this steam maker gadget costs $200, it would require 40,000 loaves of bread to amortize the purchase.  Even at $45 it would require 9,000 loaves to amortize the expenditure.  I think I'll stick with the heated bowl of water in the oven trick.

saraugie's picture
saraugie

I really like using this kit.  The stone fits perfect on my oven rack.  After following instructions on how to make the stone ready for use by increasing the temp by 100 degrees till 600 or the highest possible, in my case 500, and letting it stay at that temp for 1.5 hours, there is absolutely no smell nor transfer of taste from putting food directly onto it.

The lid fits perfectly and will accommodate anything I can think of to cook under it.

The steamer unit itself, is made of high quality parts as it feels to me.

Mark Schimpf, the owner could not have been more accommodating and helpful. He always answered my inquiry's via email thoroughly and usually within 20 minutes!

I feel that I got a major boost to my bread baking technique with having steam already made and I am in complete control of how much to use for how long. Also the safety factor to body and oven is without measure.

Thank you Mark and TFL for making this available and known to exist.

MichaelH's picture
MichaelH

I have one, it works, I like it and I would buy it again. Did I waste my money? In my eyes no, but it's mine to waste.

I see a lot of envy and bitterness in this thread, too bad.