The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

I do not want to use steam !

Truth Serum's picture
Truth Serum

I do not want to use steam !

Some of my family members prefer a soft crust.  To accomidate this need as well as the longevity of my oven's electronic system, can I just omit the steam treatment from a bread recipe? or will my final rise change drastically.

Yerffej's picture

Omit the steam and worry not.  Your bread will be different and still as great as ever.


fminparis's picture

You can omit the steam (I do)  but don't count on getting a soft crust. Depends on many factors.  If the bread is a wet dough at all and if you cover the bread in the oven with a pot or other covering, the bread itself will produce enough steam to make a crust.  If you have a small oven like mine (24") you'll can produce a crust also from the steam that's trapped in the oven. The temperature that you bake at will affect the crust. You can use a lower temp for a longer time.  The shape of the dough matters.  Many factors involved.

jcking's picture

Brush the top of your loaf lightly with water, honey, oil or butter.

SallyBR's picture

I think you should remove those members from your family, and adopt new ones!   ;-)

just kidding, of course -

I do think the crust is more beautiful with steam, and I can sometimes bake at a lower temperature in the end to get the best of both worlds: the beautiful looking crust, but not overly hard. 

Maybe you can play with your conditions a little and make everyone happy?

ananda's picture

Hi Truth Serum,

It is common practice to dust soft rolls with flour before baking, and to avoid using steam.   You could use the same method for your bread.

An alternative approach could be to glaze the loaf with milk immediately it comes out of the oven, baked.

No, you don't have to use steam, but always try to be aware of the type of bread you are trying to bake, and the condition of the dough as you put your loaves into the oven.

Best wishes


Rick D's picture
Rick D

Am I harming my electric oven with repeated steam treatments (ice method)? (I love my brand new double oven, but love the hard crusts more!)

flournwater's picture

Hey, Rick, check the owners manual for your oven.  Most well made modern ovens with electronic control systems are designed to accomodate steam (the components are shielded from its influence) and can handle steam quite well.  Remember that a braised roast gives off quite a lot of steam; most people don't worry about that.  I use steam liberally in my electronically controlled oven, I have for years, and have never had cause to worry.

wassisname's picture

I used to worry about this a lot, until one day I was roasting sweet pototoes and noticed there was so much steam pouring out of the oven that it was condensing all up the front of the oven above the steam vent.  I've never produced that much steam baking bread, so I've stopped worrying.  I briefly considered using sweet potatoes to steam my bread, but chickened-out.  =) 

DisclaimerI'm not in any way saying it isn't possible to damage an oven with steam! But, if you figure out how to get that much steam into your oven let me know, I'll be wanting to try that technique!


Chausiubao's picture

Depending on how wet your dough is, its perfectly possible to get a nice soft crust simply by not venting the finished loaves after the bake. There should be sufficient moisture within your loaves to soften up the crusts to the point where hard crusts are no longer a concern. That being said, steam does more then just give you a crispy crust, it maximizes oven spring (and by proxy, volume), as well as ensuring that your loaves have natural shine and are not lackluster in appearance. Unsteamed loaves are often dull and appear almost whitened. I believe the key to crusty breads is not steam, but a proper vent of the oven after the bake, the opposite also holds to be true; therefore if you don't want crusty loaves, don't vent them.

Truth Serum's picture
Truth Serum

Thanks. I knew about about the oven spring,

However I never thought about the way the loaves were handled AFTER they came out of the oven.

Also I have an old ovenproof casserole that I will try baking the next loaf in.

Thanks again for all the input.


G-man's picture

When I want a softer crust, I put my bread in a plastic bag.

When I want a harder crust, I put my bread in a paper bag.

I use steam for the coloration and flavor of the crust, not to determine how crusty it is. You can control that after you bake it.