The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

I am curious about this steam oven.

Mike72903's picture

I am curious about this steam oven.

Amazon link to product in question.

Well I've worked on this question for a couple hours.  My profound ignorance of steam ovens complicates what I even need to ask.  So I'll just ask if anyone has any experience with this countertop oven or knowledge or opinion about it concerning bread baking. The brand is NutriChef. It gets mixed reviews.  It's made in China and the manual is supposedly worthless and customer service is practically non-existent.  Amazon reviews confirm those facts.  Having said that, it's only $279.00 and it's huge for a countertop and has a tall enough baking space to not burn bread tops like smaller countertops I've tried. I'm uncertain but I believe that it will not operate in steam and bake mode simultaneously.  Ignoring  reviews and possible pitfalls of this particular oven would something like this do a better job of encouraging oven spring and crust development than a standard home oven? 

Alchemist Aotearoa's picture
Alchemist Aotearoa

I haven't got any experience with this oven, but I'm cynical. Compared to a lot of people on this site, I'm relatively inexperienced in bread making, but the results I've had over the past six months have been pretty satisfying. Like many others, I simply place a (smallish) shallow tray filled with boiling water on the shelf below the bread in my conventional electric oven and I've been very satisfied with my results. I'm sure you can do a lot to improve the quality of your bread by experimenting with such variables as the hydration of your dough, the duration of proving, details of the formula, the oven temperature itself, and the surface area of the steam tray, without resorting to a product like this. My heritage is Latvian; my mother and grandmother were post-World War II refugees who settled in Aotearoa New Zealand, and I have warm memories of the delicious black rye breads that the matriarchs of the Latvian Society made when I was growing up in the 70s. For the most part they were using electric ovens made in the 1940s or 1950s without thermostats, so that the temperature had to be regulated manually, and their results were perfect. (I never heard of any of them using steam!) Their grandmothers used wood-fired stoves. For what it's worth, my opinion is that careful attention to the detail of your baking process, altering one variable at a time to test the results, is more likely to get the results you're looking for than investing in a technological product of dubious quality and questionable durability.

barryvabeach's picture

Mike,  I don't  see a link to the manual, so can't say what this can do, but had a prior countertop combi oven and have a full sized combi oven.  I can't tell from the description whether it will bake in combi mode  ( adding heat plus steam ) but my guess is that it would not be a great improvement over whatever current steaming method you are using.  

If it does combi mode, it may offer some of the advantages that the Cuisinart Steam Oven  ( CSO ) offers      In general,  I have found that while a combi mode can offer very good steaming, if the only heat is by convection, for bread purposes, the fan running tends to dry out the loaf a little faster than ideal.  

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Noticed the steam cartridge right away.  I bet the steam cartridge  can be removed or only partially filled to only steam during first part of the bake.  I liked the steam oven I had in Korea and could pop out the steam cartridge during the bake like an 8-track video, only vertical. (Wonder how this one works, I see where it goes in next to the baking chamber.)  Oven vented easily (open the door, pop out steam cartridge and close the door) releasing the trapped steam and let the oven continue baking.  I loved the crusts!  The fan wasn't a big problem as I recall for rolls. I like the black finish on the inside bottom of the oven, some radiant heat there.  Get a roll of aluminum foil and cover or tent cover loaves during the first part of the bake and uncover for browning.  That's my tip with convection that blows too much.  This model looks like it has a diffuser to circulate hot air better.  Wow, upper and lower heating elements!  From the reviews, if the oven works, it does a good job.  Several Oven were returned because of malfunctioning so check it over well when it comes and return if there are problems.  One customer returned the oven three times and gave up.  

I can go back into my notes and the archives here and look for tricks and problems. 

About oven bottom tip:

Mike72903's picture

Thank you all for your input.  I have seen the manual and it it almost useless. I have read the reviews and am aware of the evident luck in getting one that functions fully.    I agree it's an intriguing item with many features if they work. The answers I've received from the questions I've ask have been frustratingly contradictory or unclear.  From individuals and the manufacturer both.  After looking at this on various sites I still cannot determine specifically if it is a combi type oven.  Present thinking is that it is not but who knows.  My feeling is I would have to buy one and play with it to actually find out much.  I don't mind using DIY steam methods and if I could find a non steam countertop oven at a reasonable price with what I believe is adequate baking height I would do that.  Even the Brevills, which owners really like aren't tall enough.  At issue also is I just don't like our Samsung oven very much for a number of reasons.  And I don't want to invest heavily as I simply don't bake enough bread to justify it.  Thanks again