The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Steam Injection for the Home Oven

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Supes On's picture
Supes On

Steam Injection for the Home Oven

I am brand new to The Fresh Loaf and have read the content with great interest. I have tried just about every method ever suggested for creating steam in my home oven with varying results. My latest attempt to mimic the commercial steam injection is a relatively simple modification to my oven. I bought a quarter inch copper tube and inserted it into the vent for the oven. This took some disassembly of the oven which some may find daunting, but it's really just removing screws. I pushed the tube in as far as I could and bent it by hand to come through the vent just under my oven's control panel. I added a compression fitting to hold it in place and put the oven back together. The whole process took about thirty minutes.

Now for the steam-my wife had purchased one of those small hand held steam cleaners (Scunsi I think) that are advertised on infomercials. I never had much use for it until now. I simply fill it with water, let it heat up, and then insert the small injection fitting into my copper tube and presto--my oven is full of steam!

This approach lets me do the steaming without opening the oven door. This may be a little extreme but it works great!

Supes On (I'm a school superintendent and Supe's On is the name of my blog at school.)

gt's picture
gt

I tried that once but I didn't think I got enough steam into the oven. I'm going to try it again.

 

Is your oven gas or electric and does steam roll out around the door and vents when you apply the steam?

 

Thanks gt

Supes On's picture
Supes On

gt,  

My oven is an old electric with a Hearthkit permanently installed with quarry tile on the rack above the Hearthkit to get thermal mass on all sides of my baking.  The door seal is bad in one place and steam does escape there and of course it can, and does, come out the vent some.  However, it is so easy to add more steam that it has not been a problem.  Adding steam without opening the door and losing heat is a real benefit.  Of course the thermal mass in my oven helps air temperature recover relatively quickly anyway.

 

Supe's On 

JIP's picture
JIP

I always see alot of talk here about better ways to inject steam or how to deal with covection ovens when trying to steam bread etc..  What I want to really know is, with all this new "resturaunt style" stoves being maufactured for the home kitchen why doesn't some company come up with a home oven with a stone hearth and steam injectors.  I know there are commercial ovens that are sort of small that do this and may somehow be coverted for a rel hardcore breadmaker but what about the others.  Personally I could not afford it either way but you think someone would have done it by now.  If you can convert a a big Vulcan range to home use why not a commercial steam-injected oven for home baking???.  I don't know I guess it's silly but it's just a thought. 

KipperCat's picture
KipperCat

I'd forgotten about these.  When I was choosing appliances for my kitchen, I noticed some people on GardenWeb were choosing steam ovens.  Since I had no clue about bread baking then, I never looked at them.  I steamed veggies just fine on top of the stove. ;~)

Of course, I also had no clue that I would move in to an energy efficient house and start cranking up my oven to full blast so many times a week!

Haolemon's picture
Haolemon

 


Gaggenau makes several.  I plan to install one when we remodel our kitchen.


 


http://www.gaggenau.com/US_en/products/steamovens-overview.do

sphealey's picture
sphealey

The KitchenAid dual-fuel ranges with Steam Assist have a steam injection system. Pretty expensive even for the 30" though.

I am surprised Viking doesn't have steam injection as an option, but perhaps that means the market isn't large enough.  I looked at a lot of brands of ranges at the Kitchen & Bath Show in 2006 and the KitchenAid was the only one I found.

sPH

andi's picture
andi

I'm following the steam trail, and just am wondering about the combi-steam ovens -- I don't think these, and maybe even the KitchenAid with steam assist actually have steam under pressure -- as Gaggenau lists it -- "non-pressurized steam." So I'm not sure they would do the job, since they're not designed as bread ovens, but for roasting. I myself have a commercial Moffat to which I've connected a pressure cooker to the hose-fitting in the back which leads to a valve operated in front by a button (originally designed to spray cold water onto the fan, but that didn't make enough steam). I then plumbed each rack with 3/8" copper with graduated holes drilled at intervals, but even that is not enough -- I need to make the holes bigger. In the meantime I found a Wagner steamer (for removing wallpaper) at Costco and stick that into the vent hole at the top, and just keep it blasting in addition, the whole time I'm loading the oven (up to 24 loaves). I also replaced the 4 grills with granite sheets which happen to come in full-sized baking sheet size....(though maybe quarry tile would be better...?) The bread is coming out better and often has a nice shine, but I think I could still use more for consistency and to compensate for the drying convection effect.


Andrea/Wholesome Hearth

gt's picture
gt

My gas oven was hot tonight so I tried injecting steam with my hand held Shark Steam Cleaner again.  The result was I saw no steam coming out the vents or around the door. 

When I pour approx 1/2 cup of water down the 1/4 inch copper tube and into a cast iron skillet filled with river rocks in my oven, a lot of steam comes out the vents and around the door.  The amount of steam that comes out around the door is very similar to what I've seen a couple of times on bakery ovens  when they pulled the steam lever.

I have always suspected electric ovens are much easier to steam due to the fact that they don't need and don't have near as much vent area as gas ovens.  If you search on my name "gt" you can see my setup and some vent area measurements I made on my gas oven and another electric oven. 

So Supe's On, that's neat if you get enough sream into your electric oven with your steam cleaner - it's a slick way to do it.

gt 

 

 

tgw1962_slo's picture
tgw1962_slo

Hello,


I saw one of these hand held steam cleaners at a local Dept. store. I think it was  about $50.


I considered buying one, but before I did, I contacted King Arthur Flour to ask their opinion about using it to inject steam. The person there indicated that if the item isn't listed as being intended for use with an oven, it isn't safe for that use. But frankly, I'm not sure what difference it makes. Its not as if this thing shoots a huge amount of steam and I don't know how it could be any worse than "spritzing" water into a hot oven.


If anyone here has had good experience with this, maybe I'll give it a try.


 


Tory

SteveB's picture
SteveB

Tory,


You may be interested in the following:


http://www.breadcetera.com/?p=85


When used properly, there should be no issue with using a hand held steamer for oven use.  I've been doing so for quite some time, with excellent results.  I'm surprised KAF would provide contrary advice (unless they have liability issues).


SteveB


http://www.breadcetera.com


 

tgw1962_slo's picture
tgw1962_slo

Steve B.,


Thanks for that link. It is an interesting article.


Actually, the device he refers to "steam bread maker" is something I came across a few months ago. But after seeing the hefty price tag on it, I decided not to bother.


But when I discovered this same kind of steam bottle at the Dept store for a fraction of the price, I decided to give it a try.


I'm glad to know you've had success with yours.


When you say "when used properly", I'm assuming you're just meaning using it the way its intended...?  Do you have any suggestions on how you use it to get your excellent results?


Thanks,


Tory

SteveB's picture
SteveB

Hi Tory,


I'm actually the author of the blog post you just read.  :)


Like you, I already had a hand held steamer.  I did not buy a steam bread maker either because of the price.  Instead, I just bought the stainless steel cover at a restaurant supply store and drilled a hole in it myself.  Inexpensive, and when used as I describe and show on the blog video, very effective.


SteveB


http://www.breadcetera.com


 

vstyn's picture
vstyn

steve


 


Can explain your steaming process, and how build your steaming system. Is the oven when your injecting steam

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Vstyn, you can see the steaming technique Steve uses by watching this video.  It's at the end.

AnnaInMD's picture
AnnaInMD

I preheat the oven to 500 degees along with the top only of the La Cloche.


I place a 10 inch non-stick spring form with my scored dough into the cold bottom of the La Cloche, surrounding the space between the two walls with crushed ice.


I then insert this into the preheated oven with the preheated top of the La Cloche, placing it securely above the bottom holding the spring form.


I bake this for 30 minutes at 500 degrees covered and 20 to 25 minutes at 425 degrees uncovered, resulting in wonderful oven spring each and every time.




Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Innovative with a great looking crumb!  Pretty soon we'll have these loaves baking themselves with very little effort! 


 

AnnaInMD's picture
AnnaInMD

the plastic peanut butter jars when gunked with old starter, I will have truly evolved !  :)


 

Gidamanyarasa's picture
Gidamanyarasa

I love baking breads, custards, pastries, you name it and I love baking with steam. I never thought to use a steam cleaner. Instead, I fitted my preassure cooker with a copper tube that has wrap insulation on the tube and directed the other end into the oven. This way I get as much or as little steam as I want.


 


Scott

hilo_kawika's picture
hilo_kawika

Hi,


Since we're doing the steam injection thing, I thought I'd share my latest idea.  I'm using a terracotta tray/beehive combination which has been described earlier by a number of TFL'ers.  My contribution is a little container that sits in a wire framework above the loaf.  The container is filled with small stones and a perforated cover (not shown in the picture) to reduce spattering.



Both the top and bottom of the terracotta faux "La Cloche" are preheated.  The dough sits on a piece of circular parchment paper with a "tail" on one corner for pulling the dough off the peel onto the tray.  The tray is then put onto the oven door, boiling water put into the little dish, the dough - first sprayed with water - is then put on the terracotta tray and the top of the terracotta put onto the tray.  The whole thing goes into the oven.  Then after the usual amount of closed time, the upper portion is removed and baking continues until the internal temperature and crust are right.  When the cover is removed, there's no water left in the little dish so I'm assuming that it all became steam and worked.  The bread looks good and the rise is also ok.


aloha,


Dave Hurd, Hilo, Hawaii

corkermutt's picture
corkermutt

I splurged and bought a steam assist oven (kitchenaid) when we remodeled our kitchen last year.  I LOVE it it works great for bread, pizza, and also meats and cassaroles (everything cooks faster and is better).  For bread you get a great crust and it is the same every time.  I used to just put a pan of water in the bottom of my oven when I added the bread, but this works better.

Snigglefritz's picture
Snigglefritz

I have tried other techniques such as spritzing, placing a pan of water in the bottom of the oven. These techniques didn't work well for me. I bought the Artisan bread pans which allow you to steam individual baguettes in a home oven. They work great but I wanted to be able to do a full-sized loaf in a glass pan.

Here's what works for me: I have an old covered roasting pan that I found in my mother's garage. It was originally meant for cooking a large turkey in the oven. I put a wire rack on the bottom and pour about a cup of water into the roaster. Then, I place the bread loaf pan on the rack, put the lid on the roaster and place it in the oven at 375. After about an hour, the bread is nicely steamed and I take it out of the roaster to finish browning in the oven for about 20 mins. Gives a pretty great crust to my sourdough bread.

2foodwithlove's picture
2foodwithlove

Hi, 

i got a combination steam oven and have started to blog some recipes including a great focaccia dough that I made today ! 

I would love to swap / share recipes with all of you !

My blog is 2foodwithlove.com 

Let me know some of your favourite combination steam recipes :-)

 

mixinator's picture
mixinator

I've tried putting a vessel of water in an oven, attempting to generate steam. The oven comes up to a temperature of about 425 F as measured by my accurate oven thermometer, so the water is well above 212 F. There is very little observable action in the water, just some small bubbles like you would see in a carbonated beverage. There is not the activity you would customarily see in boiling water and no visible steam, no matter how long I leave it in. When I open the oven door, no steam comes billowing out.

On the other hand, when I place a dutch oven in the big oven at 425 F, even with just a small amount of water in it, I get a face full of steam when I remove the lid. Why can't I get the same head of steam from my regular oven? The regular oven is not a convection oven so it doesn't have vent holes through which the steam could escape, and the oven door seems fairly well sealed.

What am I doing wrong?

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

Mixinator,  I can assure you that the water in the vessel is not 425F.  It takes an incredible amount of energy to take water from 212 degrees to turn it into steam.   For example it takes 1 calorie of energy to raise 1 gram of water 1 degree Celsius   ( I know you are using F, but for simplicity sake follow along).  So if you want to heat water from 90 C to 100 C ( the equivalent of 212F ) it would take 10 calories.  Once it got to 212F, though, it would take 540 calories to turn that water into steam.  So what is happening is the oven is gradually increasing the temp of the water, but has not generated enough energy to convert it into steam.   In the dutch oven, you have used a much smaller amount of water, so you need less energy to convert it into steam.  One way to try to get better results is to preheat a pan with lots of mass in it ( like bolts or volcanic rock ) and then pour water over it because all that mass preheated to 400 or so degrees F has a lot of energy in it which can be used to convert the water into steam.  

 

Calories to heat water http://www.mansfieldct.org/schools/mms/staff/hand/countingcalories.htm

mixinator's picture
mixinator

Thanks, Barry.

We know the temperature of plain water can't exceed 212 F. I was referring to the temp inside the oven cavity being 425 F. Are you saying the inability to generate much steam is related to the volume of water used? There are probably 4 ounces of water in my vessel.

When I bake in the dutch oven I simply spritz the loaves with a mist of water; less than 1 ounce of water is used.

mixinator's picture
mixinator

I tried pouring a small amount of water on the bottom of my oven. The water evaporated without generating much steam. I then took a tiny aluminum-foil loaf pan and filled it about half full of water. I placed it directly in contact with the heating element on the oven floor. The water came to a simmer, not a full boil, and still not much steam.

When I use a dutch oven I get a big cloud of steam right in my face when I lift the lid, and I get great crusts. Perhaps this has to do with the volume of space we are trying to fill with steam?

Now I understand why people love their dutch ovens.

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

Mixinator, yes, the factors in play include the amount of energy in the stove, the amount of water involved, and the volume of the stove.  If you have a typical oven, you probably have a volume of 4 to 5 cubic feet.  While you subtract the loaf from that volume, it is not much of a subtraction. In the DO, the total volume is very low compared to the oven - for example, if you had a 4 quart DO, the total volume is .13 cubic feet, but assuming your dough takes up 1/2 of the DO, then you only have .05 cubic feet of airspace  -   which is approximately 1/100 or less of the airspace in the oven, so it would require 100 times the water to reach the same saturation in the oven -  which in turn would require lots more energy to turn into steam.  

mixinator's picture
mixinator

The next phase of this experiment was to take a metal pie pan filled with water and place it directly on top of the heating element of an electric oven. The water came to a full boil and there was plenty of steam.

Now here's the rub: the oven didn't get above 275° F :(

We know that water doesn't go above 212° F. Perhaps the water vapor in the oven prevents the temperature from getting very high? Also, could the opaque metal pie pan be blocking the radiation of infra-red from the heating element?

It's one way to steam clean the inside of your oven :)

 

mixinator's picture
mixinator

When that same metal pie plate, empty, with no water in it, is placed directly on the heating element, there is no steam but the temperature can get nice and hot, well above 425° F.

My conclusion is that the water vapor/steam regulates the temperature and makes it impossible to reach a typical bread-baking temperature around 400° - 450° F. It's a tradeoff between temperature and a dense cloud of steam.

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

than basic thermodynamics.  I routinely have a broiler pan on the lower rack, in which I pour boiling water, and the oven has no difficulty regaining the set temperature a few minutes afterward.  And yes, the set temperature is often in the 400-450F range.

One other oven in my past was seriously under-powered and took a long time to preheat.  Even that one could regain the set temperature in a reasonable, if slower than desired, time.  

You may want to have a technician check your oven to see whether something is amiss.

Paul

mixinator's picture
mixinator

You're missing the point that the oven is capable of achieving a temperature of well over 425 (actually 475) without a vessel of water in it, so we can rule out undervoltage or design flaws. That's why I did the experiment with an empty pie pan, viz.:

When that same metal pie plate, empty, with no water in it, is placed directly on the heating element, there is no steam but the temperature can get nice and hot, well above 425° F.

By actual measurement, the oven (rated at 120 volts) is getting 117 volts, which is within tolerance.

I routinely have a broiler pan on the lower rack, in which I pour boiling water, and the oven has no difficulty regaining the set temperature a few minutes afterward.  And yes, the set temperature is often in the 400-450F range.

What kind of action are you seeing in the broiler pan water after 15 minutes? It it a full rolling boil or just some bubbles? Do you see any indication of steam such as condensation on the window or steam escaping around the door seal or when you open the door? Are you measuring the temperature with an accurate oven thermometer? If you're boiling your water in a pot on the stove, I would bet it is no longer at a full boil once you remove it from the stove.

 

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

that the oven performs well without steam.  That, however, was not the problem being discussed.  Rather, that the oven did not reach temperature when steam is present. 

So, then, why does the oven not achieve the desired temperatures when a steam pan is introduced?  Since other ovens are able to overcome the heat demands of turning liquid water into water vapor and bake at elevated temperatures, as evidenced by my example and that of other posters on TFL, why are things different in your kitchen?  The immediate suspect is the oven itself.  Based on the description provided, which is the only evidence available to me, it would appear that the oven does not have the capacity to boil the water and increase the temperature at the same time.  Possible causes include an undersized heating element, a malfunction in the thermostat, a malfunction in some other part of the oven's controls, inadequate power supply, or something else that hasn't occurred to us yet.  You have already eliminated one potential cause, the pan blocking some portion of the heating element, by running the exercise with the pan in the same position for both steamed and dry bakes.

The possible problems listed above are what went into my suggestion to have a service technician examine the oven.  They would have the tools and the knowledge to make a diagnosis that I can't.

In answer to your questions.  The steam pan is generally dry after 15 minutes of baking.  When the water is first poured into the pan, there is an eruption of steam.  When that calms down, bubbles are visible in the water but it isn't anything as vigorous as a rolling boil.  My guess is that this has more to do with the shallowness of the water, which doesn't provide for much of a convection cell to form in the water.  And, the heat source is diffuse, rather than being concentrated immediately under the pan as it would be on a stove-top burner.  Eventually, as the water depth drops further and the bottom of the pan begins to be visible, there are localized sites of visible boiling at the water's edge.  I don't generally see steam coming out around the door; it seems to be sealed reasonably well.  Steam is visible as it escapes from the oven's vent, though.  I think I posted a short video clip of it here some time back.  I do notice condensation on the surface of the loaves in the first 3-5 minutes of the bake.  Eventually the crust temperature gets high enough to dry the condensation and prevent further formation.

I hope that some part of the information is helpful to you.

Paul

mixinator's picture
mixinator

The oven works fine in the absence of water in a pan directly on the heating element. That's the only limiting factor on temperature in these experiments. A technician can't fix something that isn't broken.

When that calms down, bubbles are visible in the water but it isn't anything as vigorous as a rolling boil.

That's a clue. And you're not using an oven thermometer to measure the temperature, another piece of information. You don't really know the oven temperature.