The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Steam or not to steam

BrightM's picture

Steam or not to steam


I just tried an experiment

(Sesame -white- seeds rolls is the closed one)

I baked 6 sourdough rolls covered in a pan- as if in a steam oven. I baked another 6 rolls in an open pan in a regular home oven

I baked the open rolls, brushed with olive oil, for 24 minutes at 220 degrees until brown

I baked the closed rolls, brushed with olive oil, for 10 minutes closed, I then removed the cover and I gave them another 19 minutes at 220 degrees. Total bake time 29 minutes.

The only difference I notice is that the  open rolls were more chewy 

That can also be because the closed rolls were baked for another 5 minutes.

 Am I missing something?


jimbtv's picture

For many years I baked bread without steam. My disappointment was that the bread always had a soft crust. I then started baking with steam - actually injecting steam into my commercial oven for periods of time. The results were greater oven spring, a predictable splitting of the seam at the scoring point, and a thicker, crispier crust. Over time I have experimented with my home oven, using a pre-heated cast iron pan and a cup of boiling water. Sometimes the results were good and sometimes not so good. It was hard to produce a consistent product.

Sraight dough (yeasted breads) have a tendency to demonstrate more oven spring than breads made with a levain (starter). Usually I can coax straight-dough results out of my natural doughs through timing and steam. For me, natural levains demand better steam control.

The reason I bring this up is because I want to present my results to you, and not just wishful thoughts. For me, steaming well results in a thicker, crispier crust and more oven spring in my naturally leavened breads. My straight dough breads are more forgiving when it comes to steam. With that said I have introduced steam many times and in many ways, and still had lousy results on some occasions. It has a lot to do with how much and when. Also for me, brushing any dough with an oil or fat will pretty much insure a soft crust.