The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Less steam vs more steam in bread baking - Real world results?

CUISINED's picture

Less steam vs more steam in bread baking - Real world results?

No steam vs. little steam vs. moderate steam vs. heavy steam?

What would it look like in the real world?


Baking Baguettes at 180c vs 240c vs 260c?

I know that releasing steam right after the initial O.Spring has finished is crucial for browning and 'crusting'

Theoretically what will happen if I keep the steam going longer? (any side effects?)



ds99303's picture

Too much steam makes the crust chewy like a bagel. 

CUISINED's picture

looking for more of your thoughts guys, please contribute!

I want to educate myself... :-)


barryvabeach's picture

Nice article,  I didn't read every word, but skimmed it.  Their results are similar to my results using a combi steamer.  Not surprisingly, so long as the baking time is held constant, the longer you steam ( or greater amount of steam you introduce ) the lighter the color of the crust.  The drier  the environment, the darker the crust.  I did not see when they vented the steam from the chamber , so it appears they were studying just how much steam was introduced at the start.  For most home bakers, we don't have much control over that, and instead have control over how long it is kept in a moist environment.  Also, they did not appear to measure the increase in loaf volume with different amounts of steam.  Finally, I did find it interesting that the ran the bulk ferment until tripled in volume.   

CUISINED's picture

image reference in it.


Crust properties greatly determine the perception of the fresh bread, especially crispness. Those properties are significantly affected by the amount of steam applied during the baking process, particularly colour and glossiness, thickness, microstructure and texture properties. Low amounts of steam give thinner crusts with high vapour transmission rate and permeability. Thus, lower permeability attributed to the crust can be directly related to porosity, which acted as a barrier affecting this property. On the other hand, it is necessary to apply the right amount of steam to obtain brittle and firm crusts in the fresh bread. Based on present results, it seems that a medium to low amount of steam results in at thinner crust, which in turn is more permeable to moisture during storage. Therefore, it is expected that such crust will remain brittle for longer time during storage after baking. 


alfanso's picture

meaning a lot of steam for the first 13 minutes, then release and continue baking.  Others will 'insist' on no more than 5 minutes of steaming, but I have found no degradation in my timing, and it also delays the setting of the dough before carmelization really takes effect.

  I bake mostly baguettes in my home electric oven on a 3/4 inch thick granite deck.  The steaming apparatus sits directly below the baking deck and the baguettes are baked at between 460-480 dF.   13 minutes with steam, and then another 10-13 minutes before 2-3 minutes of oven venting. 

The crust is never chewy, but rather crisp, and I like to bake on the darker, bolder side of coloration.  

Look up Sylvia's steaming towels and also lava rocks in the search box, upper right hand corner.  You'll see plenty of evidence for these two methods, both of which I employ together.

my baguettes are shorter than the commercial length due to the depth limitation of my oven, and typically weigh between 350g-425g each.  Making them more like a "long batard", according to M. Calvel's designation.

i quite like the baguettes that you displayed in your previous entry.   A tad on the dark side, but the shaping and scoring were quite good.

as far as who is 'right' and who is 'wrong' about steaming techniques, the field is wide open for you to experiment and find what works best for you.  And pretty much whatever type or shape of dough I bake, the 13 minutes of steaming apparently works across the board.  For me.

David R's picture
David R

... show something important: There are many variables affecting the results, and unless all the other ones are kept the same, it's difficult to pinpoint the role that steam is playing. If your oven is different and your recipe is different, then changing your steam won't work exactly the same as it does for someone else.


If everybody was making the same recipe in the same oven, we would all quickly agree (more or less) on the best use of steam, how much, when, etc.