The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

How to create steam in wood fire oven?

Thaichef's picture
Thaichef

How to create steam in wood fire oven?

Good Morning:


  My French student's family visited me in my little town in VA. I taught her husband how to make sourdough bread and Facaccia. It was a great success. I used steam in my baking (hot water add to a lava rock pan). Patrick(the husband) asked me how he could add steam to his wood fire stove and I don't know.  Does anyone know? Please help. 


Patrick has this wonderful dome top -wood fire oven which you probably see in the magazine feature about  Provance area.  It is beautiful and very fuctional. They use it mostly to bake pizza and sometime cook meat and fish but never bread. Now he wants to bake breads and a lot of it ( so he says).  


They are planning a bread show off baking party but would like to use my recipe!!!   He needs steam before he can make it. Help.


Thank you.


Mantana


 


 


 

Dillbert's picture
Dillbert

the wfo should get hearth temps of round about 500F' - or higher - pizza folk aim for 700'F or more.


a preheated cast iron pan might work if it has good surface contact.


that said, one wfo dedicated bread baker I know uses an old pressure cooker, drilled & tapped for 12 inch copper fitting and 1/2 soft copper tubing he sticks through a hole in the door.  it's fired by a propane burner stand which started life as a turkey fryer.


you have to get the water at a fast boil before starting the bake, planning required - as stated. he's dedicated (g)

proth5's picture
proth5

I was working with a wood fired oven, "my teacher" had us use one of those garden type pressure sprayers (one thaht had never been used for anything but clean water) to spray the dome and back of the oven as we loaded the loaves.


That worked well for us at the time - but I have not done any wood fired baking since and there may be other ideas.


Just wanted to chime in as this seem less elaborate then the setup above...

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Here are just a few ways to add steam to your wfo. 


Here are just a few examples.


You can use a spray bottle of water and spray water aiming directly at the walls.  The water evaporates before hitting the walls.


Damp mopping  the floors to clean up the remaining ash, add's some steam..this usually happens before adding your bread..May assist in some pre-steaming of the oven.


Adding a pan with water soaked rolled up towels.


Use a garden hose and with a sprayer attached and spray aiming at the walls.


If there are several loaves of bread in the oven.  Some steam comes from the bread baking.


There are also mechanical ways of adding steam injection into your oven..this is usually done when the oven is being built.


http://www.fornobravo.com  site has information on steaming a wood fired oven.


Sylvia

Thaichef's picture
Thaichef

Thank you very much for your quick reply. I will gather all the info. and rewrite it in easy English and send to him.  


Mantana 

spacey's picture
spacey

In another thread on this site I saw this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4RiJs1a92U and in it the methods sylvia describes are employed.  It seems like using pre-heated pot/pan, and adding boiling water as you would at home should work fine.

Thaichef's picture
Thaichef

Hello Sylvia,Proth5 and Dilbert:


  Thanks everyone for your help. I will send it to Patrick. His WFO is very large with no door to close it. They use big log and start the fire a long time before they would start the Pizza baking. I remembered that the fire was blazing hot. They wait until the fire was down to white ashes and push it aside then start baking. The pizza was thin crust with fresh mozzarella, basils, tomatoes and olive oil on top. It cooked in no time and was delicious.


mantana


 

Peasant Baker's picture
Peasant Baker

http://www.homedepot.com/h_d1/N-5yc1vZ1xj4/R-100164531/h_d2/ProductDisplay?langId=-1&storeId=10051&catalogId=10053


 


These sprayers can spray finer droplets than a water bottle. I saw Richard Miscovich and Ciril Hitz use and recommend these at the Kneading Conference. 


 


-Chris

UnConundrum's picture
UnConundrum

LOL, I went out and bought two of them on my way home from Maine :)

Doc Opa's picture
Doc Opa

I love this sprayer.  Just pump it up and spray a fine mist.

yozzause's picture
yozzause

HI Mantana/ Thaichef


Patrick may need to make a door closure for his WFO as it is usual to pull the fire from the oven and use the residual heat to bake the bread the door can be made from a hard wood, it just needs to be made to fit into the opening and can be just proped to close the opening we usually soak the wood door before using it.


For your steam the same method you employed will work only add enough water to last for the first 5 to 10 minutes. 


Quite often the use of a wfo goes like a few hours of firing followed by pizza baking with some fire still in, followed by 2 or three batches of bread fire out  and richer breads later followed by some slow roasting and the next day even using the very warm chamber for drying fruits etc or failing that even your next load of firewood can be dried ready for the next session.


regards Yozza  

UnConundrum's picture
UnConundrum

Agreed that he'll have to fashion some form of door to keep the steam and heat in the oven.  I recently added some nomex felt ( http://www.amazon.com/Nomex-Felt-Long-Thick-Wide/dp/B002YXZ1B4/ref=pd_sbs_indust_1 ) that I roll up and shove in the crack between my door and the top of the opening to seal in all the heat.


 


As to steam generation, I soak a cotton mop head in water and then throw that into the oven.  seems to wick moisture into the air nicely.  I still spray also when adding loaves to the oven.

Thaichef's picture
Thaichef

Hello Everyone:


  I sent the information to Patrick and he wants to thank you everyone for helping him. I gave him the TFL web site and tell him that when he is ready, he can post some of his breads picture.


  Thanks, everyone.  You are the best!


mantana

BOSCO10's picture
BOSCO10

You can also try tossing some ice in oven before you load the bread.  I toss it into the sides and back of the oven and then seal the opening with a piece of wood covered with heavy duty foil. 


I have a cob oven, so the heated clay flakes off if sprayed with water.  I have also used cast iron pots that were heated in the oven and then filled with water just before loading the bread.  Good luck

Thaichef's picture
Thaichef

Hello Bosco10:


  Thanks for your advice. I will forward it to Patrick.


mantana

ClimbHi's picture
ClimbHi

I would be VERY reluctant to toss ice on a hot hearth, unless you're keen to replace cracked masonry. Too much thermal shock.


Many suggest using a fine mist sprayer -- that's what I do. The water essentially evaporates before it hits the hot bricks. Others use ice in a hot pan -- this keeps the cold ice off the hot bricks. But if your oven is full, and the door is tight, you may not need to steam. Lightly misting the surface of the loaves before loading them seems to do the trick. The loaves provide enough steam after that.


ClimbHi
Pittsburgh, PA

Fayzor's picture
Fayzor

Hi, 


We are just completing our brick-clad,  wood fired barrel oven and my husband has made a thick wooden door for it. This fits snugly into the opening and he soaks it in water for an hour  before a bake. This creates steam inside the oven. 

yozzause's picture
yozzause

Hi Fayzor


 i see you are from Victoria  is your oven a RADO of traditional oven design,


We have one here in WA  and although the wooden door is soaked in water and will give a small amount of steam initially, it is not going to contribute a great deal to the steam overall in the baking process. a full oven of dough pieces (18 x 500g)will generate a considerable amount of steam. The dough pieces loose close to 10% of their weight in the oven and a further loss during the cooling process out of the oven.


That's why a full oven gives a better result but that usually a mix with  5 kgs of flour.


We look forward to some pictures of the oven and some of its magic soon


Regards Yozza

Fayzor's picture
Fayzor

Hi Yozza.


My husband says it is a RADO oven of the MTO variety. He's just put on the last vermiculite layer on the top and will finish the last couple of rows of chimney and roof it soon. I care nothing for engineering technicalities. I am a luddite, which is no dobut why I find handmaking sourdough so soothing. 


However, there are only two of us and I can't see myself making 18 loaves unless I decide to sell at the local farmers' Market which is only once a month. I will ask him to make pictures for the posts, since I can't be doing with all that digital stuff. 


We made pizzas in it and roasted a chook and did a crumble on its first serious burn. We thought it was magic. Will let you know how we get on.


Cheers


Fay

yozzause's picture
yozzause

Hi Fay


I thought it might have been a Rado design, they are a very good oven and i like to make a batch of bread when i know that the students at work are using the oven for pizza. You are quite right that mixing a 5 kg dough is quite a task but i can use all the equipement that they have at work so its not to hard. It is also pretty easy to get rid of 18 loaves too as the word seems to spread if i am doing a bake. 


ROSSNROLLER a fellow West Aussie & TFL man came along one night when we put a wholemeal dough through and also baked a few of his sour dough pizzas in the WFO.


You can get a lot out of one firing with pizza followed by a couple of breads  slow roasts and the next day still plenty of heat to dry tomatoes or other fruit that is in season.


regards Yozza

CanuckJim's picture
CanuckJim

Over more than ten years I've tried various and sundry steaming methods in my WFO.  Finally, I settled on the most economical and effective.  I use a common, dedicated garden sprayer with a brass wand.  The only modification made was to add a longer piece of hose so the sprayer sits on the ground while in use.  Such sprayers can be gotten from box stores for something like $10.  The advantage of the wand is that you don't have to stick your arm or hand inside the oven (ouch).


At the high heats generated by a WFO, using boiling water is completely unnecessary, because ambient temp water turns to steam immediately.  Ice in any form is not recommended.  The other methods used for home ovens simply aren't required in a WFO environment.


For a door (which must seal completely to keep the steam in for half the bake), I use a scrap piece of plywood with a handle.  Attached to the oven side is a two inch thick piece of high heat insulation board, attached with screws and washers, that goes under various trade names (SuperIsol being just one, made in Sweden, available in Europe and N Am).  This is a rigid, dense board, unlike the softer variety (K-Fac 19 being just one).  The softer board will degrade over time unless it's incased in metal.  There are castable refractories (Matrilite 18 being just one), but a similar metal case would have to fabricated and then filled with it.  No matter how it's done, the seal is most important.  Another advantage with a door of this type is that once you're finished baking for the day, you can install the door so that the heat is retained far longer than it would be if the oven mouth was left open.


CJ

ClimbHi's picture
ClimbHi

CJ, I'm with you on the garden sprayer. My only complaint is that I've been using cheap-ish plastic ones that seem to only last about a year. I'd love to find a small (maybe 1 gal.) stainless steel sprayer with brass fittings. The other point worth mentioning is that, at least in my neck of the woods, you need to store the sprayer inside in the winter months or ice will wreak havoc with it.


As for an oven door, I made mine out of 2 layers of pine, each about 1-1/2" thick oriented in perpendicular directions. I then covered the oven side with galvanized steel, and added a second layer of galvanized steel set off from the surface by 3/4" spacers. The door overlaps the sides of the oven door and the second layer of steel just fits inside the door opening. This has worked well for several years now to protect the wooden door from scorching. The only time I had any problem with heat was one time when My Lovely Assistant put the door loosely in place while the fire was raging. Some smoke, but no major damage. I don't have a good pic of the steel portions of the door, but here's what the outside looks like. I'm toying with adding an insulating gasket (like those on wood stove doors) just to help it seal tighter.



Another thing to note: If you look carefully, you'll see in the below-oven cavity, an ash tray. I quickly found that you can't leave hot coals in the tray with the door in place or the door will get barbequed. ;-(


Since taking that pic, I've also added a thermometer I got (IIRC) from the folks that brought us the Big Green Egg. (I used that one because it is good for higher temps common in these ovens.)



I don't find it works the same as, say, the temp gauge on your average home oven since a WFO cooks mainly via radiation vs. conduction/convection, but it is a good gauge to help you roughly estimate how things are going behind the closed door. Kind of a relative gauge rather than an an exact indicator. Especially useful in non-bread baking/roasting where the effects of a falling oven are more significant over the longer baking times involved.


ClimbHi
Pittsburgh, PA

polo's picture
polo

Even though my experience is much more limited than CanuckJim or ClimbHi, I have had very good results with a cheap garden sprayer for the first two months. My 1st door, on the other hand, went up in flames after the last bake I made. It was designed as a temporary solution so I shouldn't be surprised. The next one I build will be built to last substantially longer.


Polo

scootlaroo's picture
scootlaroo

I used a full size bath towel, wetted thoroughly, then microwaved for 5 minutes.  I put the hot wet towel in the roasting pan and then poured boiling water (approximately 1 qt) over the towel which filled about 1/2 inch on bottom of the roasting pan. After inserting in the oven, I put wet towel around the door, and sealed for 10 minutes before loading oven.  When I opened door to load, waves of hot steam came rolling out of the door.  It was awesome.


 



Cheers,


Scot in Las Vegas

Thaichef's picture
Thaichef

Thanks everyone for a very useful information. I will give him the info.


Now Patrick in France wants to know where can he puchase a good thermometer for use in the Wood fire oven? I have no idea since I don't have a WFO.


 


Could you let me know so I can get one good one for him?


Thank you.


mantana

ClimbHi's picture
ClimbHi

That's kind of a loaded question. The answer is it depends on what you're looking for.


The most useful temperatures to know in a WFO are temps of the masonry, usually measured with thermocouples that are installed during construction. Just Google wood fired oven thermocouples for a bunch of ideas.


Runner up is an infrared thermometer. You can Google these too, and there are a lot of them out there. I have a Fluke unit that I like, but other are probably just as good. Look for one that measures up to 1,000 degrees. You use that to take the surface temp of the ceiling, walls and floor.


Second runner up is a thermometer that takes the air temp inside the oven. Not particularly useful for bread, but nice for roasting and baking. Take a look at my thread on my oven door for a pic. I got mine from a place that sells parts for The Big Green Egg grill.


I also have a thermocouple probe for an electronics multimeter, but I only used that when I first built my oven to chart falling temps over time in order to get a handle on the temperature curve for my oven once heated, i.e., how long it took to cool a particular amount.


Hope that helps.


ClimbHi
Pittsburgh, PA