The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Kitchen Steam/Convection Oven

Old Baker's picture
Old Baker

Kitchen Steam/Convection Oven

Fundamental question is do they do the job?

I know they cost more than regular ovens, but are they effective for baking?

My wife and I both enjoy cooking and often find ourselves "jockeying" our cook schedules while using a single oven.  We currently have a Dacor wall oven under a microwave, built into a kitchen cabinet.  I found one Dacor (I'm sure there are other brands) double oven that I think would fit into the existing opening.  Both have the same internal size (4.8 cf) as the single oven we have now.  One of these ovens has a steam feature.  We could use an inexpensive countertop microwave unit when needed.

The two advantages of the Dacor double unit are that it would eliminate the use conflict and add the convenience of steam without the hassle of pouring water in a pan and/or opening the door to spritz.

Thoughts, comments?

UnConundrum's picture
UnConundrum

If the oven has any low temperature control with steam, it would be great for proofing your breads too.

clazar123's picture
clazar123

I just googled Dacor ovens. Very pricey! I can see why you want to check it out first.

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

Old Baker, there are a few posters on the Houzz, formerly gardenweb site, that bake bread  with combi ovens  here is one post  miele combi    here is another gaggenau-combi-steam-bread-baking

I checked the manual for the Dacor - and it is not a true combi oven.   A combi typically lets you cook with steam only, with heat only, and with various ratios of steam and dry heat. Instead, the Dacor only appears to let you cook with steam plus convection, or steam plus the broil element.  As you know, with bread, we generally want heavy steam at first, then vents open and no steam part way through.  Some combi's have bread modes that do that automatically, I did not see that in the Dacor manual.   My experience is that is not as convenient or predictable as a combo cooker, though I primarily cook 100% whole wheat, for bread flour, the results may be better.  For me, the latest attempt involved 100% steam at 210 preheat for 4 minutes, at the same time preheating a metal griddle on a range top burner - load the loaf on the griddle, then put into the oven, and change to combi steam plus heat at 440 -  then after 10 minutes, turn off the steam and left on convection heat.  I was able to get a very crisp crust, but I was making a test loaf of 100 % AP flour ( working out the kinks as I transitioned to 100% whole wheat ). 

  If you can afford it, I would definitely spring for separate oven and true combi.  The main benefit of the combi is not for bread baking ( which is why I bought mine ) but for general cooking .  The oven in my range preheats in about 20 minutes - the combi takes less than 5, so the vast majority of cooking is done in the combi - even when i use it just as a convection oven.  Since it is so small inside, it preheats much faster.  While it is small, it actually holds a fair amount of food.  If you check the houzz site, it is not uncommon to read about someone cooking a 12 pound or larger turkey.  Second, most combis have a reheat function ( sometimes called regenerate )- usually convection ( dry heat ) plus a low percent of steam  which lets you reheat foods without drying out.  I use that feature quite a bit.  In addition, you get the 100% steam function, which is good for steaming shrimp or corn on the cob.  Finally. when you use the steam plus dry heat feature, food cooks much quicker than a normal convection oven. For years, only the high end makers offered combis, with a price to match, but lower priced models are starting to come available, though still north of $2,500  Thermador and Bosch , Bertazzoni   https://www.abt.com/product/98487/Bertazzoni-Professional-Series-30-Stainless-Steel-Convection-Steam-Oven-PROCS30X.html   Jenn-Air-

 

 

Old Baker's picture
Old Baker

Interesting comments.  Thank you.  Looks like I have some research to do.  The unit I referenced is a Dacor DOB30M977D.  It's advantage over some of the other brands is that it has two ovens, both 4.8 cf.  Some of the others steamers I looked at are not much, if any, larger than a microwave oven.  If I purchase the Dacor, we would have two ovens equal to the size of the one we have now and in the same cabinet.  And by removing the tray the water pan sits on, I could bake two trays of baguettes instead of just one.

One comment referenced the maximum cooking temperature.  I don't know what the max of the Dacor is.  I can't find it anywhere  but I'd like it to be at least 500F.  There is a dealer nearby that I will check with.

A comment posted somewhere else mentioned the physics of "wet" vs "dry" steam and the energy required to produce steam.  Seems like the ideal is to have dry steam produced in a separate chamber and then injected into the oven.  It takes a lot of energy to convert water to steam and if misted water is injected, it would lower the oven temp.  Maybe not a much as spritzing with a water bottle, but spritzing coupled with opening the oven door obviously causes the temp to drop.

If anyone has information on other, similar units, I'd appreciate the brand and model number.

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

Nearly every combi I have seen is much smaller, usually 1.5 cu ft or less, to accommodate the separate boiler, and while they offer different trim packages, typically, the guts of the machine is around 24 inches - just the trim is 30 inches.  A few ovens are being offered as steam assist.  My assumption is that it in fact injects water into the chamber, and that turns into steam based on the heat in the chamber.  A true combi, in contrast, will have a steam mode or setting - the convection element is off, and the only heat is from the steam coming from the boiler.  KitchenAid also offered a steam assist range  .http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/35654/kitchenaid-steam-assist-oven-bread-baking  

Old Baker's picture
Old Baker

It may be a mute point whether the water injected is dry steam or in a water spray.  I guess the point is that water needs to be added into the oven.  Almost every recipe I've read says to spray the dough with water just before baking, spritz with a water bottle several times, and/or to put a pan of water on a shelf in the oven.  All these simply add water (not steam) and the principle has long been consistent for baking bread.  So whether an oven is a steam assist type or a true combi, I don't know.

The double Dacor I looked at would get water into the oven no matter in what form.  It would also solve the issue of being able to bake or roast two things at one time.