The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Homage to SylviaH (and her sure-fired steaming method!)

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wally's picture
wally

Homage to SylviaH (and her sure-fired steaming method!)



Anyone who's followed my blogs knows that I'm constantly whinging about my gas oven and it's tendency to vent steam as quickly as I can create it.


But it's true: my relationship with my oven is probably like that of Ike and Monty in WWII - hated one another but needed each other.


So, having tried the numerous Rube Goldberg remedies found on TFL (I'm still using lava rocks in a cast-iron frying pan), and found them either impractical or wanting, I read Sylvia's recent post with interest - but skeptical interest I must admit.


Still, looking for anything that might offer a tactical advantage over my oven, I tried it out today with a pain au levain recipe using mixed rye and AP levains from Hamelman's Bread (still my favorite sandwich bread!)


I slightly improvised on Sylvia's instructions: I thoroughly soaked a terry cloth towel in water, placed it in a glass pyrex bread pan, filled it 3/4's with water and then nuked it in my microwave for about 10 minutes before placing it in my oven just before loading my loaves.


On loading a cup of water was carefully tossed onto my lava rocks, and then two minutes later, another half cup.  I removed the pyrex pan with the towel 15 minutes prior to finishing the bake.


Oh the result!  The most oven spring and the best opened cuts I've ever had at home - easily!


Here are some shots of today's bake:


    


 


    


If I could sell Sylvia's technique I'd be like Ron Popeil at this point.  However, I'm having difficulty visualizing an infomercial featuring a terry cloth towel steaming in a bread pan, so I'll give that a pass.


However, I will heartedly add my endorsements to those Sylvia has already received. 


This is one way of overcoming the shortcomings of home kitchen gas ovens.  And how!


Larry


And the crumb shot:



(Crumb shots to follow once the bread's cooled)

Comments

LindyD's picture
LindyD

And of course, I'm insanely jealous.  


So far all I'm getting is steamed windows and lousy ears.  About the only thing that has worked with any consistency is SteveB's method of shooting steam through a hole in a roaster pan.


Onward and upward.


Those sure are pretty, Larry.

wally's picture
wally

I'd just about given up hope on my gas oven, but the wet towel seems to have done the trick.  Even though my oven vents everything, the wet towel continues to produce enough steam to do overcome the venting - at least initially when I really need the steam.


I liked Steve's method, but it just looked too complicated for me.


Larry


 

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Larry,


They are great loaves, and testament that Sylvia has come up with some great techniques.


I really empathise with your frustrations with your gas oven.   My home electric oven is tending to cut out at the most inopportune times of late...how frustrating is that!


I'm sure Peter Reinhart makes reference to the all-importance of the dough quality in making great bread.   I rarely have a problem with that, but it's horrible to think the hard work is all at the mercy of a dodgy oven isn't it?


I need to fire up my wood-fired beast more, I guess.


Lovely bread; touches of the loaves you showcased during your King Arthur courses I venture to suggest?!


All good wishes


Andy

wally's picture
wally

Yeah, it hurts when you've done all good preparation, and then the oven fails to come through.


This is indeed a product of the King Arthur course with Jeffrey and James.  One of the three breads they introduced us to.  And by far my favorite in terms of the pleasure it provides for the labor involved.  Just a nice everyday eating bread!


Best,


Larry

AnnaInMD's picture
AnnaInMD

looking breads, wtg !


anna

wally's picture
wally

Thanks Anna!


Larry

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

Beautiful spring, Larry.


I used the same general idea with baguettes yesterday, combining the wet towels and lava rocks.  Got good spring.


Chalk up one for the baker.


Glenn

wally's picture
wally

Thanks Glenn! Nice when a workaround for an oven's deficiency can be found.  And yes, I was so pleased with the oven spring that was able to be realized because the cuts stayed open.


Larry

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

I'm so happy your happy! 


You certainly got some open slashes!  You know with my electric oven, I just couldn't get the steam to stay either.  No matter how fast I moved, it wasn't going to help.  My oven continues to vent quite hardily at all times...even when turned off after baking, it just keeps venting until the oven is cold.  It's nice to have a method, no matter how it's done with the steaming hot towels...they are constantly adding steam, until removed.


I hope you treated yourself to a facial, to celebrate ;)


Sylvia 

wally's picture
wally

instead of the facial Sylvia, but it was a celebration!  Thanks for what seems to be a reliable way of keeping steam in my oven.  It's been a long time coming!


Larry

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

and, I'll toast to your celebration, too!  


Sylvia

Franko's picture
Franko

Hi Larry,


I've been following other posts on Sylvia's technique with interest as well. It seems to be a good one, my only concern with it and the other steam generating methods such as the SFBI method, is the potential for damaging our electric oven. I wonder what the manufacturers would have to say about generating so much steam over an extended period of time. My guess is that a gas oven like yours might be less susceptible to damage from steam but worry that some of the electronics in our electric oven might not fair so well. It's great that you've found a way around the problem, not that it ever reflected in any of your breads IMO, but I think I'll do a little more research before I try it out.


You have a couple of fine looking loaves there Larry, and like you, I find this type of formula and flavour best for my everyday tastes, from toast to sandwiches or just with a slice of cheese.


All the best Larry,


Franko

wally's picture
wally

Yes, a gas oven is a lot simpler than an electric one, so I'm not so concerned with damaging the oven. But I'm happy to have found a way to trap steam, and it certainly shows in that bake.


Larry

teketeke's picture
teketeke

They look good, VERY GOOD!!  Larry :)


I am an one of Sylvia's steaming method's fan. I have used the technique as soon as she posted.


To Franko:  I will wait to hear your research's result.  It seems to be fine, but I am going to ask my husband who is good at the electric stuff to research, too.


Sincerely,


Akiko


 

Franko's picture
Franko

To Larry: my apologies if this dialoque is going somewhat off thread from your post. It should probably be put out on the forum as a general question rather than distract too much from your excellent bread. My fault..sorry.


Franko


To Akiko: I'm not good at the electric stuff, so any input yor husband might have on this question would be greatly appreciated.


 


 

teketeke's picture
teketeke

 


To Franko


I am sorry that it took so long to response it you.  I got an answer from my husband said,


" Using water or wet towels to make steam in an electric oven is not problem" because we usually cook some meat or some food that have water content which produce steam in a oven for a long time (more than 10-12 minutes that is probably maximum time for baking bread with steam)


More than that, using highest heat or self-clean excessively will damage an oven. Actually I burned the oven's element twice when I had been baking French bread using 500F everyday for 3-4 months.   My husband said that most likely domestic oven is not well made to use such a high heat every day like professional bakers do.


I was about to ask an electrician who has been working for my neighbor's kitchen about this, But I had no chance yet because he has been too busy. 


To: Larry  -- I am sorry that I hijacked your nice blog.   Your loaves are impressive .  I am practicing to get such  nice score lines like yours :)


Best wishes,


Akiko

Franko's picture
Franko

Thank you Akiko, that's good information for all of us electric oven users, and please convey my thanks to your husband as well.


ATB,


Franko

wally's picture
wally

They taste wonderful!  I really like the complexity of flavor from the combination of rye, ap and whole wheat flours found in this particular recipe.


Larry

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

It's such a great feeling when an insoluble problem gets solved, isn't it?


Thanks to Sylvia for the solution! I'll have to give it a try.


David

wally's picture
wally

There is nothing quite like watching an insoluble problem dissolve before your very eyes.  Particularly when it's such an elegant solution.


Larry

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Great Cuts and loaves larry!! i bet you kitchen felt like sauna then! Another testimony to the success of Sylvia's magic steaming!


I have splurged and bought an electric oven which does vent, but can be easily controlled. couldn't take the labor of my old oven. I wish you posted this earlier..


I must try this.


Thanks larry!

wally's picture
wally

I think you'll enjoy this bread - and it has a small portion of your beloved whole wheat flour to boot!


Larry

Vogel's picture
Vogel

Wow, what an oven spring! The loaves look like they literally exploded in the oven, only held back by its outer shape. Beautiful loaves!


Sounds like one just has to try this steaming method.

wally's picture
wally

Thanks Vogel.  The loaves are testament to the final rising power of ripe dough if allowed to reach its potential.  Give Sylvia's method a whirl - you won't be disappointed.


Larry

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Impressive Larry! One of my favorite breads also.


Eric

wally's picture
wally

Thanks Eric - and a great phrase to describe that marvelous oven spring.


Larry

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Impressive Larry! One of my favorite breads also.


Eric

Mebake's picture
Mebake

The crumb you posted, along with the oven spring indicate that your levain was very happy! Your shaping was superior, and your steam was plenty!


Very well done, larry! I must try this sometime!

RonRay's picture
RonRay

Wow, Wally they look like they nearly exploded !


Great work !


Ron

wally's picture
wally

Nice when timing and oven spring happen to coincide, huh?


Larry