The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Steam & Oven Temp

Vicious Babushka's picture
Vicious Babushka

Steam & Oven Temp

Hello bakers!

I just discovered this forum and found some great advice. I have been trying to make sourdough baguettes. My first attempts resulted in horrible-looking pale gray things hard and heavy as baseball bats. I also had some difficulties transferring the shaped loaves from the couche to the baking stone, I can still hear that sickening sound plop! plop! plop! as they slipped out and landed in a pile. I frantically tried to separate them and meanwhile the oven lost like 100 degrees.

My main problem is maintaining the oven heat. I found that if I spray the oven walls to create steam, that cools the oven down very fast. The results in the photo were achieved by spraying the loaves before putting them on the baking stone (using a parchment, I avoided the sloppy landings). Opening the oven door to spray steam--cools down the oven.

So my question is, how to achieve a steam environment without losing oven heat?

The recipe used to create the loaves in the photo is "Poolish baguettes" from The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Bread Baking.

DavidEF's picture

If you can, preheat your oven hotter than the temperature you will be baking at. Also, using some stones (like pizza stone) or bricks to hold heat in your oven might help a little. You may also try changing your steaming method. I preheat a small cast iron skillet in my oven, and just before time to bake, I heat up some water to boiling, either on the stovetop, or in the microwave. Just after putting the loaves in, I dump the hot water into the skillet, making steam. I do this in combination with over-heating the oven, and using a pizza stone. I also preheat for about an hour, because stones take a long time to heat up, just as they take a long time to cool down, which is the part we like. After dumping the water in, I quickly close the oven door and then turn the oven down to my desired baking temperature.

dabrownman's picture

at home where it doesn't dissipate and you don't open the door to let it out.  Use 2 of Sylvia's steaming pans half full of water and a 12" CI skillet  full of lava rocks and half full of water,  Put them in at preheat on the bottom shelf with the stone right above.  15 minutes after the oven comes to temperature then the stone has caught up and the steam is massive.  That's when you load the bread

lazybaker's picture

The color of the breads looks good. I get the gray color in the past, too. I forgot what I did. They ended up with a hard crust and dense middle. I gave up on making baguettes. LOL Maybe I'll try again once the weather is cooler.

There's a youtube video "Baking with Dom" where he shows how he transfers the bread from couche to oven. It looked like he floured a cardboard? Hmm. Maybe I should get like a clean cereal box or some food box.

lazybaker's picture

I just realized something. Did the person in the video say to turn off the oven for 10 minutes after putting in the loaves?? After 10 minutes, he then turn on the oven. 

I'm confused.