The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Lava Rock

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Maluz's picture
Maluz

Lava Rock

Sorry I don't know if I am in the right place.


There was I post a few days ago about someone using Lava Rock for steaming the oven while baking breads. I have tried to locate the post but couldn't find it.  The pearson who posted it didn't say if they wet the rocks before placing it in the oven. Can someone help.


Thanks a lot.


 

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Hello, Maria,


The dry lava rock is placed in a cast iron or other sturdy pan, which is set below the baking stone, then preheated with the oven.  Upon loading the bread, half a cup or a cup of hot water is carefully poured into the pan containing the lava rock.  That's what creates the steam.


If your oven has a glass door, you must cover the glass with a towel to avoid the possibility of water droplets landing on the glass and shattering it.


Hope this helps...

Maluz's picture
Maluz

LindyD, thanks for your prompt reply.


Just the information I was looking for, although in the post I mentioned, the person places the cast iron with the Lava Rock, on the top shelf. I would need to do the same as my oven does not heat from the bottom.


You clarify about the water and that was what was looking for.


Many thanks.

LindyD's picture
LindyD

You'll probably have to experiment with the amount of water you add, and perhaps even the placement of the lava rocks and steam pan, but I'm sure you'll be quite pleased with the results as steaming does make a positive difference.


Have a great bake!

Trishinomaha's picture
Trishinomaha

Note: Sylvia places her skillets of lava rock on the top rack. I haven't tried this yet but it's an interesting concept and makes a lot of sense. Here's the link to that post: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/19424/today-8-loaves-1-doz-buns-sandwiches


Trish

Maluz's picture
Maluz

Trishinomaha, that is the post I was looking for. Thanks.


Lucia

lumos's picture
lumos

I don't use lava rocks (No idea if I can get hold of them where I live, anyway) but been quite sucessfully baking using pebbles in a baking tray set on the lowest shelf in the oven, pouring hot water just as you guys are doing with lava rocks.


It's the method I learned from a Japanese book on breadmaking a long time ago and a lot of Japanese home bakers still do that these days (though some of them seem to use ceramic baking beans nowadays).....if they haven't yet bought one of various new home ovens with self-steaming function for artisan bread which most of major oven manufacturers've been pumping out to the retail market in recent years. ::green with envy::


I bought a small bag of pebbles for fish tank from local pet shop, but garden centres also sell various type of decorational pebbles if you're prepared to buy in a much larger bag. One of my baking mate who didn't want to spend extra money for such a thing, started collecting pebbles everytime she took her dog for walking. She's still collecting....after nearly 2 years. Pebbles turned out to be rarer commodity than she'd expected in the end... unless you live near large riverbank or beach with shingles or something.


When I mentioned about this method at another bread forum (UK based) a while ago, someone was worried if hot pebbles would explode when you pour water on it, but it's never happened to me (been doing it for more than 30 yrs) and never heard of any home baker in Japan having an accident because of that. So I think I can more or less confidently say it is effective and safe method. .....And cheaper if you're patient enough to collect your own pebbles. :P


Another method I use to create steam....or improvise to create the same effect, rather, is use of pyrex casserole with lid for round or oval loaf. I got this idea from Jim Lahey's No Knead method, of course, but rather than using cast iron or clay pot, I use Pyrex. The beauty of it is you can use it upside down, so you slide in your proofed dough to the lid part which works as the base and put the main part of the casserole as a cover on top of it. It's much easier than trying to 'throw in' your delicate dough to burningly-hot deep casserole and removing the cover is not difficult either.....PLUS you can see how the dough is doing because it's see-thru!  2L round/oval casserole is just happened to be right size for my round/oval banettons and, being Pyrex, it's quite resilient against heat shock. (After several years of hard labour, they're still doing alright. No crack.)


lumos

Maluz's picture
Maluz

A fantastic idea using pebbles, unfortunately I have already bought the Lava Rock. I should have come here first and ask all this knowledgeable people on this site.

The idea of using a Pirex dish also is very useful. I usually use a Le Crusier casserole, but as you mention, it is more difficult to damp the dough on a tall dish than would be on the lid. I will try it one of these days

lumos's picture
lumos


I should have come here first and ask all this knowledgeable people on this site.



Well, it might've not helped actually, because I only started posting here a few days ago after more than 3 yrs of lurking and quietly borrowing/stealing everyone's brilliant ideas. :p


But, yes, Pyrex is great.....though I just realized the ones I have are not quite Holy St.Pyrex themselves (Pyrex doesn't do 2L in casseroles, but either 1.7L which is too small or 3L which is too big for my banettons) , but something similar from another manufacturer. After I saw Jim Lahey's article/video, I did also used LeCrueset and other cast iron casseroles I had. but because of high temperature it required (higher than their 'guaranteed safe temperature') the surface was a bit damaged. So since then I started using Pyrex and have never looked back.

Chuck's picture
Chuck

Glass is glass, and it never ever goes in my 500F oven  ...even though that's another excuse to call me paranoid. I know Pyrex is "rated" for the heat  ...so let the person who made that rating put it in his oven.


True, the most recent reports tell us the stories about Pyrex exploding are "mostly" nothing more than fiction. But "mostly" isn't enough for me to sleep soundly.


I've heard too many stories about a dish working fine for twenty years and then disintegrating without warning when hot because a microsopic flaw (too small to see even holding the dish up to the light) had developed. I've heard too many stories about problems caused by sudden temperature drops, as a very common way to cause one of those sudden temperature drops is to pour some water elsewhere in the oven but drip a little bit. And I've heard too many stories about problems mainly affecting those "almost-Pyrex" look-alikes which can be hard to identify.


Buying something that for certain has the "Pyrex(R)" Logo on it helps a whole lot  ...but I find it easier to just forego glass altogether and use cheap and sturdy "cast iron" for steam vessels.

alldogz's picture
alldogz

You can get lava rocks at any home store (lowes, home depot) that sell grills...i have a whole bag left over after redoing my grill and am going to try them in the pan and see if they spread the steam time out a bit more.

highmtnpam's picture
highmtnpam

Hi! Make sure that you wash the lava rocks outside first... with a hose.  Mine had a lot of dust on them.   Pam