The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Best way to steam a deck oven with no steam injection?

BazF's picture

Best way to steam a deck oven with no steam injection?


I have just bought a 3 deck, 2 tray Tom Chandley Oven c.1990 with stone floor but no steam injection.  This is my first commercial oven and I am self taught now baking for Farmers Markets.

I am trying to replicate the excellent results I have been obtaining baking artisan style loves for the past 8 years in our Aga.

Can anyone give me some advice on the following:-

1. How best to steam the oven? I have been using a small garden sprayer but the results are erratic and the loaves still look dull and lifeless! Is a large, pressurised sprayer the way to go?

2.  How much steam do I try and introduce and when?

3. How do I best handle the 'top' and 'bottom' heat settings? I am getting lots of spring in fact to much with many of the loaves losing their shape and distorting. Is this because there is too much 'bottom' heat? I am baking directly on the stone floor usually at 225/230C.

I would really appreciate your help.



Yerffej's picture


I added steam by using a pressure cooker that sits next to the oven.  I ran a line from the cooker into the heat chamber to release steam under the stone deck.  10 minutes of steam prior to putting the dough in with the top heat closed.  When the loaves go in I open the top heat to let the steamy air in.  This is certainly not ideal and not very powerful but it does help.  Using this method it is not possible to introduce too much steam.  I turn the steam off after 10 minutes.

Your temperature sounds right, if you are getting excess oven spring, your loaves are underporoofed.

The new oven demands that you learn all that you can from it.  You need to become friends with the oven and realize that it will bake quite differently from the Aga.  It is an ongoing learning process and may even cause you to alter some of your bread formulae to make them work better in this oven.

I use the top heat to control the browning of the crust.  It is open about 60% for the first half of the bake, I then rotate the position of the loaves on the deck and open the top heat 100%.  In the last few minutes, if the loaves lack crust color, I turn the thermostat up high to generate a hot flow of air over the loaves to brown them.

I hope that this helps.  I baked some very questionable and inferior loaves for about a month after switching ovens in a situation similar to yours.  Your new oven can do the job, you just need to find out how.



Aideuis's picture

I have a electric deck oven and have been using a cast iron skillet filled with 1/4" of water put in while the oven comes up to temperature when I do not have enough bread to fill the oven.  The best steaming I have ever achieved is to simply turn the oven up to between 550F-600F and load the deck full of bread then mist with water.  I will then open the door and dampener to release the steam and close the door while leaving the damper open for the rest of the bake.  I have been thinking about installing a brass nozzle (mist) with a 1/4" copper line run through a solenoid valve.  The copper line will hopefully be run close enough to the elements and be long enough by coiling, that by the time the water reaches the nozzle it will be hot enough to create a mist/steam.  If any one has tried doing something like this it would be nice to know if it worked.

GSnyde's picture

I have very successfully used a combination of the iron skillet with lava rocks and Sylvia's steamy terrycloth towels (  It makes LOTS of steam.

Good luck.


sandydog's picture

Hi Barry,

I bake regularly in a Tom Chandley Oven very similar (From your description) to yours c.1990 with stone floor but no steam injection.

1. How best to steam the oven?                                                                                                                                                                                     I have been using a (1 Litre) plastic water bottle - The type you would see sports persons drinking from - It is great for squirting as much as you want, deep into the oven, onto the stone hearth - Really cheap and effective. 

2.  How much steam do I try and introduce and when?                                                                                                                                          I usually load 6 or 8 loaves (Depending on their shape/size) on a tray and when I am ready to bake I close the damper, open the deck and squirt in about 250ml of water then close the deck to pre steam the oven. I then decant my loaves from their bannetons onto the tray, slash them with the required pattern and get the tray as close to the oven as possible ready to put it in as soon as possible after I have opened the deck and squirted in another 250ml of water - Get that tray in as fast as possible and close the deck. I guess this might be a problem for you if you are loading several loaves (One at a time) with a peel onto the hearth as the time it takes you to do that will allow most of the steam to escape (Into your face and on your hands/arms). If you do not wish to use trays then I recommend pre steaming the oven as above then spray the loaves themselves before you put them in. 

3. How do I best handle the 'top' and 'bottom' heat settings?                                                                                                                             Like you, I am baking usually around about 225/230C and, for baking on aluminium trays, I find that top heat 7 and bottom heat 5 is about right for most of my hearth breads - Buns a little higher temperature, large loaves may have to have lower temperature after 20 minutes or so to pevent crust burning. I have to say however that I have baked in two simlar Tom Chandley ovens in different locations and, whilst there was not much difference in performance, I do have to play around with top/bottom settings to obtain best results depending on the breads and whether I bake directly on the sole plate, an aluminium tray or a cast iron tray. You will need to experiment to find the best settings for your oven/loaves to achieve the simultaneous perfect crust (That's the way you want it) with a perfectly baked crumb (Again, to your requirements - not anyone else')

Hope this helps.


BazF's picture

Thanks Brian and others have contributed to this thread.

I shall be trying your various suggestions and will report back.


Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Hi Barry.

You can try what I use.  I get good results and without the fuss and mess of using ice, water, spray methods.  Here is the link to my past post:

Here's a link to a recent bake that used this roaster steaming method:

If you have any questions, please feel free to message me.