The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Baking on stone with steam

Kentucky Jim's picture
Kentucky Jim

Baking on stone with steam

I have used stone flooring to bake. If I started with an 18x18 stone I could trim it with a masonry blade in my circular saw.


I read some of Bro Juniper's books and started using steam. I would do this by putting a rimmed baking sheet on a rack in the lowest position and the stone on a rack at about 2/3 up. Right after putting the loaves onto the stone I would shoot a 1/2 cup of boiling water into the baking sheet with a jumbo syringe.

Steam gave me better bread, but when the cloud of steam hit the bottom of the stone I'd get two or three more stones than I had started with.

The engineering solution:

A steel frame to hold the stone with a sheet steel bottom to keep the steam from directly hitting the stone. This also let me use several smaller stones instead of one big one. Using smaller stones reduces the amount of stress across each stone that could lead to cracking.  And since I had a frame and could move any number of smaller stones as a single unit, I went extreme and got a bunch of 2 x 2 slate tiles. (they come as a 12 inch x 12 inch square with 36 of the 2 x 2 tiles glued to a net with water soluble glue.)

I lifted a few tiles out for the picture.

I use parchment anyway, so the small height variations are not a problem, and now, the steam is not a problem either. 500F oven plus steam plus hot stones and I really like the crust that is coming out of the oven!


pmccool's picture

How thick are those tiles, Jim?  About 3/8" or 9mm, roughly?  My reason for asking has to do with thermal mass.  If that thickness gives the desired result, then you have a winner on your hands, especially since a thinner stone will reach baking temperature faster than a thick one.  If that thickness doesn't store sufficient heat to drive oven spring, it would be pretty easy to put another layer of tiles over the first layer.  That's a winner, too, since one-piece baking stones aren't at all adjustable.  I suppose that choosing heavier gauge steel for the tile tray could also work to boost the thermal mass.

It's pretty cool to see such an elegant solution to a problem.


Kentucky Jim's picture
Kentucky Jim

The tiles are 3/8". I have used it a couple times and they seem to have a pretty good thermal mass. They were still too hot to handle 3 hours after turning off the oven last night.

Kentucky Jim's picture
Kentucky Jim

BTW, after making the frame and floor, I scrubbed them clean with detergent, dried them, and gave them a very light coat of flax seed oil.  Then I put them in the oven for an hour at 500 (no tiles, just steel). This is the same treatment I use for my Dutch ovens and cast iron, and the result is the same--a hard, tight, thin, dark surface that resists rust and has no flavor of its own.

Casey_Powers's picture

Thanks for the pic.  I have been contemplating a new stone for more mass in my oven.  I think my hubby could

totally do this for me!  I would love to see the loaf on this!

Warm Regards,