The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

How's the oven steamin'?

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alfanso's picture

How's the oven steamin'?

Most of you well know the value of creating sufficient steam in the oven to cool the surface of the dough down and then help that surface to gelatinize, providing us with that lovely glistening surface.  But what about when the steam is just not there?  

Well, today was the day that I found out!  The pics below are examples of with and without sufficient steam.  I’ve included photos of the insufficiently steamed (Don D’s – Bouabsa/Gosselin formula) baguettes, one taken from 50k feet and the other taken by nearby spelunkers on their way in.

As you can see, the results show a dull, lackluster finish which is exhibiting a lack of caramelization on the skin.  But I was surprised at the explosive gringe.  The grigne opened up so much that it looks as though these are short, but they are not - the same length as those in the pics below with correct steaming. 

My scoring is consistent enough where I infrequently get hourglass shapes and today’s baguettes looked just about perfectly proofed, shaped and scored as they went into the oven.  I can’t help but think that the corrupted shape is another result of the lack of proper steam.    

For comparison sake I’ve also included a few other pics of recent bakes with the same or other formulae which have emerged from my oven when the steaming was correct.

Let this be a lesson to ya (and me), kids...Steam your oven!


1) As you can see, no gelatinization of the skin, curves like Marilyn Monroe, and bread looking like those Cousin Itt bakes for Gomez & Morticia.


2) A close-up of same:


3) And now for a few with appropriate steam...

BobS's picture

Those are great-looking baguettes. When steamed.