Effect of oven temp and humidity on oven spring
Hello, I have been avidly reading the forum posts on this site for a few months now. I find it the most comprehensive source of decent info about bread baking around.
I have one unanswered question though.
I want really fluffy bread. I know that steam encourages oven spring by preventing the crust from hardening too early. I also know that bakers use a very high temperature in their professional ovens and that this somehow maximises oven spring.
But surely, the higher the temperature, the quicker the crust will harden, preventing further rising?
I have experimented with using a preheated cast iron skillet to create steam with ok results. However, I noticed a marked improvement when steaming the bread for the first 10 minutes, in its bread tin, in a covered stock pot on the hob with water covering the bottom. This created more steam than the skillet method, and seemed to give a better oven spring and a lighter crumb. I then finished the bread off in the oven to brown the crust. The downside to this method is the temperature achieved is so much lower than that of a professional steam injected bread oven.
Why then do we need this high temperature? Surely it's better to ramp up the temperature slowly, to allow the heat to penetrate deep into the loaf, allowing the yeast to produce gas while the loaf surface is still wet?
Thank you for your help. This has baffled me for a while now....