The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Steaming Success! consistent results with a gas oven achieved.

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Steaming Success! consistent results with a gas oven achieved.

This is the most successful Wholewheat multigrain i have baked so far. The Steaming technique this time was different. I drilled a whole through the roaster Lid and purchased a steamer cleaner to push steam through the hole. This was adapted from The baker steamer set that was marketed in TFL years back, but with much cheaper components.


The result was spectacular: the loaf gained color so fast, and the crust was crispy out of the oven. Oven spring was very good too. I left the loaf in the roaster for 20 minutes (should have been less: the bottom got charred).











If it wasn't for the charred bottom, i'd say , this is the one best tasting / looking bread i have ever tasted in my life.


Khalid

Comments

jyslouey's picture
jyslouey

may I ask how long you left the steam injector in the oven?  I have a vertical steam iron that has a rubber hose which gives out steam  and I'm wondering if this too would work for me although I must make sure that the rubber hose doesn't melt if I had to stick the nozzle in the oven for a prolonged period.  Thanks.  Judy 

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Thanks Judy. Oh no, I didn't leave the steamer in the oven, i only injected steam through the tiny nozzle into the hole when the bread was inside, and then i closed the oven door taking the steamer with me :) How long? well, count to 8 seconds or so.


The steamer has a tiny nozzle which is perfect for my little hole i drilled through the roaster lid. The plastic didn't melt when i put the nozzle, so its safe, but i don't know about your steamer.


Khalid  

jyslouey's picture
jyslouey

the next time I bake a free form loaf where steam is required, I have only been using a plant spray so far.   I have also thought of  using an oblong bread tin covered by a larger pound cake tin to trap the steam from the dough but I believe you're trying to increase the steam in side the container for a thicker, more crispy crust.

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Not thicker Judy, but thinner crackly crust is what you get by injecting steam in an enclosed space. The devise i adapted is a cheap alternative to buying an electric oven, and it works like a charm!


khalid

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I like your clever adaptation to provide yourself with a steamed oven. One of the issues when using a baking pan with a top is that you end up lowering the shelf to get it all in. That's where the carbonized bottom comes from. You might try a couple cookie sheets below the roaster to shield the pan from the harsh heat. You could also use a stone and just the roaster top upside down on the stone. That's what I do now.


Great looking Multi Grain BTW. You are getting to be a champion baker.


Eric

ronhol's picture
ronhol

So you inject steam for 8 seconds immediatly before closing oven door.


Do you plug the hole to prevent the steam from leaking out?


I take it the single shot of steam is all you need?


Currently, I am a new baker, using the 5 Minutes a Day tecnique, and I place a small 8" round cake pan on the bottom rack of my oven, and pour in one cup of hot tap water when I put my loaves in the oven.

lief's picture
lief

I love the ingenuity!  Great idea, and great looking bread.

LindyD's picture
LindyD

I've had a large rectangular roasting pan for some time and while I used it to cover loaves during the early part of the bake, I still wasn't getting great results in my gas oven.  


The pan covers my baking stone with maybe half an inch allowance on each side.  One of the problems I encountered was placement of the bread before covering it. I usually bake two batards or rounds, but they can't be too close together or they won't bake properly - but if they are too far apart, then they touch the side of the roaster.


Are you baking two boules at the same time?


I'm inspired enough by your success that I think I'll pick up one of those steamers during my next trip to a box store, drill a hole in the roaster and give it a try.  

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Thanks, Eric! you've been such an ispiration to me all along, and i appreciate your valuable feedback. As to the roaster lid on stone, my stone is smaller than roaster, and the gap in between will vent steam. i thought of a smaller roaster lid to accomodate my stone, but this will negate the whole idea of baking two loaves simultaneously. I'll try to shield the bottom of my oven as you have suggested.


Hi, Ronhol. I thought of the idea, but found that leaving the hole unplugged worked too, and steam was trapped well. As to the steam shot, a single shot did the trick. Don't forget that you have the dough moisture in there too. You should get better color and crust if you used enclosed steaming, even better loaf volume.


Hi Lindy. I believe the space left between the Stone and the roasting lid will allow steam to escape from your setup. As to the placement of the loaves here is what i do:


I have the lid in the oven to preheat along with the stone on top/or bottom. the roaster base is left out on the stove to gain some heat from the vent. When the loaves are ready,i take out the lid with the stone on top, and place it on the stove top, and bring the base, lay in a parchment , invert the loaves from the bannetons, one at a time, score them, and finally place the lid on the base (making sure the steaming hole is facing outwards) , the whole thing is squeezed into the oven, and steaming is done through the hole. It takes 20 minutes for my loaves to show color, and then i remove them and place them on a higher rack on aluminum sheets, rotating them half way for even coloring.


I guess that the 20 minutes leads to charred bottom, due to the proximity of the roaster to the oven bottom (my heat source). 15 minutes should do it.


I hope that helps,


khalid


 


 

ehanner's picture
ehanner

khalid,


Just be sure to allow room on the sides for the heat to rise around and up to the vent. You might be able to use the stone, even if it a little smaller.


Eric

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Oh, Lindy, and you don't drill a hole, you hammer in a medium size nail. Granite roasters don't get drilled easily. Take care, and make sure to even out the protruding metal that results from the hole at the back, so as not to injure your self.


And yes, i bake a 2lbs boule, and 1.5lb batard at a time.


khalid

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Hi Khalid, my roaster isn't as fancy as yours.  I found it at a resale shop for a dollar and believe it is made of aluminum or another lightweight metal, so I think I can drill it pretty easily.


Also, it sits flat on my stone so I don't think the steam will easily escape.


Too much going on to bake this weekend, but hopefully I'll get a chance to try it next weekend.


Appreciate all your help.

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Thanks, Eric, i'll try to use the lid on stone, and push some steam through the hole to see what happens. Can't wait to try it!!


khalid

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Hi Khalid,


The breads look beautiful - what a gorgeous, caramel crust.


I have to say you show great dedication to achieving the best steaming technique. I imagine this directed steaming would be the nearest equivalent to the steam system in a bakery oven - doesn't that work by injection? 


I look forward to learning more.


Kind regards, Daisy_A

jyslouey's picture
jyslouey

I've not seen baking stones available in HK and now I have a very stupid question so pls bear with me...in the absence of a baking stone, can I use a cast iron hot plate with a flat surface as a substitute or will this burn my buns ?? 

ronhol's picture
ronhol

I use a cast iron Pizza Pan to bake my loaves on, it works great!

jyslouey's picture
jyslouey

Would it matter too much if I used the hot plate to rest my dough for final proof without preheating the cast iron plate and cover it for a crisp crust.


ronhol's picture
ronhol

I was instructed to preheat my cast iron, just as you would a stone.


The idea is to have the stone/cast iron at oven temp, and it acts as a heat sink, providing a constant temp to the loaf during the first minutes in the oven.


So, it's my understanding that the stone needs to be preheated for 30-40 minutes.


I actually have both, but I prefer the cast iron.

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Lindy, i meant granite coated, but your roaster will do just fine. Hope it works for you too.


Thanks, Daisy, right you are, Pro. ovens are steam injected. I strive to make the most of my humble gas oven.


Jyslouey, same here. I had a hard time finding a baking stone in Dubai, and had to plead my in law who works for a ceramic supply store. He reserved the last two "Thermal stones" he had on shelf for me. Glad to have them around, they are invaluable. Thermal stones are used in the floor of commercial conventional ovens that we use in the middle east to bake pita bread or pastries. They are made of earth clay.


As to your iron cast plate, you may use that, but be sure to preheat and bake on a mid. to higher rack level, to avoid scorching the bottom of your buns.


khalid


 

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Hi, Jslouey!


Yes it'll work this way too, but be sure to preheat the inverted bowl before loading your dough. The Cast pan will eventually pick up heat. I'd love to see the end product!


khalid

jyslouey's picture
jyslouey

Thank you Khalid for the advice. I've been out of town since last Saturday and have only just returned last night.  While I was away, I managed to find a couple of rattan bread proving baskets for a bargain at no more than USD10.00 for all three of them.  They are exactly like the ones on sale at Breadtopia, I also bought some dark rye flour and will try to find a good recipe to test the cast iron/stainless steel cover contraption.



Judy

jyslouey's picture
jyslouey

Here's what I made using the cast iron hot plate and stainless steel cover, a dark rye bread with caraway seeds and raisings. The apparatus worked well  but unfortunately my bread making skills are at fault and the bottom crust turned to be rock hard in some parts but the top crust and crumb were fine




Judy

ronhol's picture
ronhol

mebake, I noticed you put your stone on top of the roaster.


Why not place the roaster on top of the stone instead?


That way, the stone tempers the heat from the bottom of the oven, and the thermal transfer through the graniteware should be even and controlled.

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Hi Khalid,


Gave it a try yesterday - I think this steaming technique works better for a gas oven than pouring water over rocks, but I've got to get the timing right.


My roaster pan cover is 17 inches long by 12.5 inches wide - the first steam spray was only ten seconds and I don't think it added enough moisture.  I tried 25 seconds for the second steaming with better results.  I think I'll enlarge the drill hole just a bit so I can direct the spray to each side of the plan.


Also think I'll put the roaster pan on a plastic sheet on my kitchen table and play with the timing so I can see what's going on under the pan.  That should give me a better sense of how long to steam.


Good thing the little steamer is a multi-tasker; does a nice job getting wrinkles of of clothes and cleaning the kitchen sink, so I don't feel guilty about buying another bread baking toy.

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Keen notice, Ronhol. I Placed the stone on top to emulate the effect of an electric oven, where heat is distributed evenly through the top and bottom elements through the bake time. furthermore, i rely on bottom heat for the whole bake (my oven does have a broiler top element, but tends to flame out when i use both elements, which i've tried).


NIce to hear that this has some potential for your oven, it should. cn't wait to see your first loaves with steamer effect.


khalid

ronhol's picture
ronhol

I don't think placing the stone on top of the roaster is as effective as placing it beneath the roaster, for several reasons.


Heat rises, so, unless you have a convection oven, the upper portion of the oven always heats first and hottest.


A convection oven helps even out the temp gradients.


An example would be to get on a ladder in a 10' high room, when the furnace is running.


The temp will be considerably hotter than on or near the floor of the same room.


The stone acts as a heat sink, which stores the heat for steady consistant release after opening the oven, and losing a large percentage of the heat in the air.


The heat being released from the stone will natually radiate and gravitate upwards, heating the roaster pan, the loaves and ambient air inside and outside the roaster pan.


By contrast, the stone on top will have much less effect on the interior temps of the roaster.


I have an Associate Degree in Environmental Technology, where we studied the science of thermodynamics and heat transfer, as the basis of heating, cooling and conditioning interior environments, along with the various laws of physics affecting the transfer of heat.

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Hi ronhol,


Can I benefit from your expertise please?


I have a small domestic, UK gas oven, about 1.75 cubic feet, with heating only from gas jets at the bottom. I use a 14" wide, 3/4" deep baking stone, preheated. Will I get more heat retention in the stone if I put it on the lowest rack (about 2" off the bottom of the oven), or the next rack up (about 5" off the bottom)?


I preheat to around C250 and bake directly onto the stone. If the stone is higher up then the loaf crust is at risk of burning. 


Also, how does radiant heat act in a wood-fired oven? I thought I understood that the walls of the oven heated up and then gave back heat?


In the case of Khalid's oven set up, would the top stone also be warmed by rising heat and sort of insulate the bread in the roaster making it like a mini oven within the oven? You can see from an earlier blog that the baker also uses a stone beneath the roaster for some oven setups http://www.thefreshloaf.com/blog/mebake?page=1  


Either way, the bread produced is cracking :-)


Kind regards, Daisy_A

ronhol's picture
ronhol

Hi Daisy,


As far as your oven goes, it sounds like it would be better to place the stone lower, so the top of the loaf does not burn.


My only concern would be if the stone might be damaged (crack) from being so close to the flame.


As to the brick ovens, yes, the stones will radiate heat back, and I think many of them are rounded like an inverted bowl, so as to affect the direction of the radiant heat, and aim it toward the center of the oven.


If Kahlid has a stone in or under his roaster pan, then yes, I would imagine another preheated stone on top might offer some benefit, but I doubt it would be nearly as beneficial as the stone beneath the loaf.


In any case, preheating of the stones to your oven temp is probably the most critical issue.


If they are cooler than the desired baking temp, they could feasibly be counterproductive and undermine your efforts.


After looking at some of his other pics, from your link, I became confused.


Does he have a stone under the pan, and in the pan and on top of the pan?


3 stones?

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Hi ronhol,


Many thanks for the advice! I had the stone cut so that it sits well in front of rather than directly above the burners so hopefully it will not crack. It is also high enough specification to go in kilns so can take temperatures upwards of C1000 - 4 times what my oven can do!


I will try it at the bottom again. I do make sure it is thoroughly preheated but I do know what you mean about not heating enough being counterproductive. I used to heat a full width iron pan also to pour water into but with the stone the mass was so great it meant the whole oven never got up to full heat. Now I use two small fajita pans and the oven can cope with that.


I think Khalid is trying a number of approaches to see which is best. Certainly he has more than one stone. Hopefully he can clarify.


Kind regards, Daisy_A

Mebake's picture
Mebake

HI, Ronhol,


I have two stones, with which i have tried various approaches, as Daisy pointed out. The effect i seek "crust coloring and even baking from top" is ellusive with my roaster (only) setup. The roaster lid is tall, and shields more heat from the top of the loaf than radiates. To ensure that constant heat radiation is being emitted from the top of the roaster, a preheated stone was placed on top for only the first 15 minutes of the steaming process, where the milliard effect takes place "caramilization of the crust"


The fact that Heat being higher at the top of the oven is uilized when i uncover the loaves, and movr the rack higher.


Now, i have tried both placing the stone at the base of the roaster and inside the roaster under the loaves, and they all ended with charred loaf bottom.


I have also failed to mention that i have a solid metal rack that came with the oven and i place it "not preheated" at the lower most position near the flames to distribute heat, and shield the roaster from direct flames.


To conclude: I have learned through trial and error, that: given the position of the roaster in my oven and the type of material it is made of, and the heat source of my oven, the best setup was to introduce a constant heat source on top (during 15 min.steaming period) all the while heat from the bottom is bein radiated through the metal rack at the base of the oven, which acts as a stone.


Hope this helps.


khalid

ronhol's picture
ronhol

I see, you have a rather unique challenge with the particular oven you are using.


In order to resolve the charring problem, you might want to try reducing the temp of the bottom stone some how. Instead of bottom stone temp being 450, maybe let it drop to 350 when placing loaf.


For example, remove the bottom stone 10 minutes before baking, and let the temp of that stone drop, then put it in with the loaf and roaster.


It might actually simplify your operation to place the stone in the roaster, preheat normally, remove roaster bottom (with stone inside), put roaster top, with top stone back in oven, wait a predetermined time, put loaf in roaster, then put back in oven as you normally would do.


A bit more fuss, and trial and error, but with practice, you would be able to determine the correct 'cool down' time needed to achieve the desired results consistently.


Good luck, sounds like you are on the right path.

Mebake's picture
Mebake

I might have mislead you when i first said that  i use 2 stones. I own two stones, of which use only 1 (preheated with the roaster lid) as shown in  pictures, none others, whether in on under the roaster.


As i said, i used a metal rack at the base of the oven to deflect direct flafrom charring the loaves.


khalid

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Jyslouey! Great Bargain for such a valuable baskets!!


Take care though, HongKong is humid , store those baskets in a dry cool place or you'll have to brush them off every time.


As to your late bake, Keep at it, it should work!


khalid