my new toy - creating steam in a home oven
I got a new toy for the holidays. I have tried everything to get steam into the oven when I bake my hearth breads. I've tried hot water, cold water, ice, steam pan above, steam pan below, spraying the walls, spraying the dough, large steam pans, steam pans with lava rocks in them (the kind used in bbq's), clay cloches, metal bowls turned upside down over the bread...
I read on this site some years ago about a guy who modified his oven and then uses one of those steam cleaner things. But, I was scared to modify my oven that way....
And then I saw this product - http://www.steambreadmaker.com/ - and thought, hmmm. I didn't need the baking stone, and figured the metal cover could be for a counter-top-dough-proofing gizmo so I wouldn't have to use plastic wrap, and the steam cleaner has lots of uses. So, I asked for it for a holiday gift.
I'm a convert. The instructions are specific and include some recipes. You proof & slash your dough normally, but you do not need to spray your dough with water first. Preheat to your desired temp - I like 475 to 500 - put your dough on your stone (or whatever), put the cover over it, and then inject steam in through a tiny hole that fits the nozell of the steamer - and count to 15 or so. The instructions given say that more steam and less time has one result and less steam and more time has another - I tried both on the same dough. Less steam and more time under the dome gives a thicker, chewier crust.
Contrary to what I thought would happen, even if the dough is large and takes up much of the room under the dome, the steam does not adversely effect the bread, nor does it effect the shape of the bread or produce a crust that is different on the side opposite the steam hole.
I got the taller of the two domes, and it's perfect as a cover to do proofing on the counter. The steamer has many uses. You do not need to buy the stone. My brother, bless him, neglected to choose the "no stone" option, so I got one. I have not yet used it. It is thicker than the pizza stone I currently use, and is also a different material. I have not used it, so I don't know if it's better or worse than my pizza stone.
If you were handy, you could make one of these and buy your own steamer. I don't have a tool that cuts metal, so...
Anyway, I just wanted to share my new toy with all ya'all.
Happy New Year everyone!