The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Humidity versus Steam

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Humidity versus Steam

All the "artisan baking" (I know the adjective is "artisinal," Mike!) books I have provide instructions for humidifying the oven to approximate the function of steam injectors in professional bread ovens. Some recommend using ice cubes. Some recommend hot water. Some recommend humidifying the oven before putting loaves in. Others humidify after loading the loaves.

 I think it is Maggie Glezer in her recipe for Dan Lepards Country French Bread who recommends putting ice cubes in a pan before loading to "humidify" the oven and putting hot water in a skillet after loading the oven to "steam" it.

 Can anyone comment on this procedure and clarify 1) the difference between humidifying the oven and steaming the oven, 2) the difference in the timing of adding water (in whichever form) on oven spring and crust formation?

And, has anyone tried the garden sprayer method Glezer recommends? If so, does it really yield a different result than throwing hot water into a hot skillet?

 Thanks.

David

proth5's picture
proth5

I indeed do use a small pressure sprayer in addition to pouring water into a container in the bottom of my (gas) oven, not on Ms Glezer's recommendation, but from what I learned working with a wood fired oven.  I spray my baking stone pretty liberally after loading (being carefull to avoid the bread...). 

I live in a very dry climate and I am happier with those loaves where I have done this kind of steaming than with the ice cube method (which I did try a couple of times).  I can pump quite a bit of water into the oven in a short period of time.  Much escapes, but much does not.  Hot water will use less energy than cold water to turn to steam, thus having a smaller impact on the temperature of the oven (As if opening the door wasn't bad enough!)

I might also add that I have an old oven and no longer fear committing oven abuse in the name of good bread.  The oven has needed to be replaced for some time, but I have been putting this off because I don't know if I could be so callous with a shiny, new oven (Of course I could get that steam assist oven, heh!)

Humidity can exist at any temperature.  At higher temperatures water contains more kinetic energy (which is why we see subliming ice create little wisps of moisture at the freezing point of water and vaporization create billows of steam at the boiling point.  Think of it, have you ever heard of a sublimation powered turbine?)

Certainly I have heard a very qualified teacher recommend that one steam an oven before loading a levain bread and also steam it after it was loaded because of the slower rising time for levain breads. 

I have heard the same teacher argue that the home baker should use ice cubes so they will sublime. This will not actually occur.  Sublimation occurs in arid environments at near freezing temperatures.  In an oven an ice cube will briefly turn to water and then the water will vaporize. There is a potential for only a small amount, if any, of the ice to sublime.  But the teacher in question seemed to be in love with the word "sublime" and I declined to argue my point.

What we are doing is to try and pump enough water vapor into the oven so that the surface of the loaves will be moist at the beginning of the bake, but not so much that the atmosphere remains moist after those first few minutes when the bread is expanding.  Steam is a very active form of water vapor.  Is that "better" than a less active form?  That way madness lies. There are many variables involved with this and each baker must find the right balance for his/her breads and oven. But I am forced to wonder: if steam weren't the best way to deliver moisture to the bread, why aren't there high priced professional "vapor" ovens?

What I find is that there is much art to baking and our teachers sometimes like to inject a little personal poetry into what they advocate.  No harm done.  I like a lot of steam.  For me the bread is the final arbiter.

Long answer.  I have obviously spent too much time thinking about this. Hope this helps.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Okay. So, the goal is to keep the surface of the loaf moist for the first part of the bake while cooling the oven as little as possible. 

That means you want the water vapor as hot as possible. You want to open the oven door as little as possible. 

What kind of sprayer do you use? I've seen a variety of garden sprayers with a wide cost range. I've used a cheap plant sprayer. It requires the oven to be wide open, and it doesn't seem to deliver much effective steam. 

David

proth5's picture
proth5

I use an inexpensive pressure sprayer from Farm Tek.  They seem to always be on sale and cost about $8.  You first pump it and then press a button on the handle to spray.

I do not have the dexterity to do anything but open the oven door fully and spray, but you may be more skilled.

Hope this helps

PaddyL's picture
PaddyL

I think I've tried all the methods mentioned for steaming up the oven, but I discovered, on reading The Secrets of Jesuit Breadmaking, that just soaking the crust, either with a sprayer or a brush, before putting it into the oven, works just fine.

ehanner's picture
ehanner

This subject has been visited many times here. The only thing new I can add is that I can not see a noticeable difference between my French Baguettes and Sourdough Boules when baked in a humidified and steamed oven or baked without steam and added humidity, under a cover. The cover shields the dough while it is warming and creating moisture inside the cover. The surface of the newly expanded crust is then gelatinous and becomes shiny. Once the cover is removed it browns up as usual.

If I had a gas oven I would cover everything and never steam. IMHO there is no benefit to steaming over a bowl or some kind of cover like a roasting pan. Use a sheet pan or a stone as the base, again it doesn't matter much.

Eric

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Eric. 

It does seem this gives the best result for the home baker. I'm just going to have to give it a try. 

How do you cover baguettes or other long loaves? 

David

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Covering Baguettes is the hard one. I have a SS steam pan that just about covers my stone although it could be a little longer. I need to look into options for a little longer pan. When I have an extra long loaf for my regular size oven I place it diagonally. In my next life I'm going to get a large full size oven so I can do a real baguette. Here are a couple I did tonight under the ss cover. I do have a steam generator that I break out if I'm really trying to show off my bread but the secret is in the cover. Susan from San Diego taught me this trick with her magic bowl. That works best with boules but  once tried you will see that there is plenty of moisture in the dough to create a humid environment.
Eric--These were baked covered tonight.
Baguettes
Baguettes

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

I use a rectangular turkey roaster that I got on eBay. The top just fits in a standard size half sheet pan (18 x 13). It is fine for 2 batards about 1 pound each or 2 small baguettes. You can manage up to 2 1-1/2 pound loaves if you place them on the diagonal. A cover really is a lot easier than spraying and I'd like to thank all the TFL posters who educated me about this approach. (PS I have a poorly insulated gas oven that vents steam very readily. I tried all the usual home steaming methods except for the ice cubes but it seemed that the steam was in and out of the oven in 15 seconds flat. I also noticed that the oven temperature dropped about 50F every time I opened the oven door.)

enamel turkey roaster

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

And I'm going to try it over a batard!
 David

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

hi David,

Did you try using the lid (or bottom) of your enameled oval turkey roaster pan when baking your batard? How did it turn out?

BTW, are you baking on preheated stones or on a sheet pan?

thanks - SF 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, SF. 

I used the bottom of the roaster because it was larger. I was trying to cover two loaves at once. See my blog for how it turned out. In brief, the roaster wasn't quite big enough for two loaves, and they stuck to it. The result was not significantly different from using hot water in a skillet to humidify the oven. 

 http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/7247/greenstein039s-sour-rye-bread-baked-cover 

As others have commented in this thread, covering the loaf may make more sense in a gas oven. 

I probably will try this again with other breads, but I've gone back to the other method for most bakes.   

David

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Subfuscpersona, I like the size of your roaster pan and it fits inside a sheet pan. There are two other things I do to give a slightly higher humidity level. I sometimes will spray a little water around the perimeter of the dough on the paper. The small amount of water applied to the baking surface will quickly turn to steam when placed in a hot oven.

I have a small steam generator you can find on ebay that I use to spray super heated steam into the chamber through a drilled hole near the top. This creates the best high humidity environment for perfect baguettes and batards. You get a very nice thin crust that has that authentic French sheen on the surface when every thing is perfect. Search here for my T-55 flour test. This is the method I used for those breads. Hope this helps.

Eric

Janedo's picture
Janedo

I don't like things to get fussy and have to do several "procedures" while baking bread. In my electric convection oven, I have what we call a lèche-frite (a metal pan that collects meat juices that spill from broach cooking) in place in the bottom of the oven which is the same thing as putting a cast-iron pan I guess. I throw in a cup of very hot water in it, close the door, grab my bread, throw it in and then let it bake. I have been followiing the instructions in my books about doing it again two minutes later but that doesn't really make any difference at all.

I think in the end, it really depends on the type of oven and what the goal is. I like my bread to burst at the incisions so I don't want to keep the dough too oiled or damp. I don't spray directly on the bread. The steam created from the hot water gives a beautiful, golden, crunchy crust. So, I figure why complicate things?

I have friends who have a lot of trouble with gas ovens with no convection. But I don't really know WHY! 

Jane 

Susan's picture
Susan

Gas ovens need combustion air and, therefore, are inherently more open than electric ovens. I think your friends with gas ovens would find a huge difference if they covered their loaves with a stainless steel bowl or a roaster for the first half of the bake. Ask them to give it a try. Your loaves are beautiful and I wouldn't change a thing if I were you!

By the way, I love the way my loaves burst open. This loaf was baked under an SS bowl; I just pulled it out of the oven.

Burst LoafBurst Loaf

Susan from San Diego

Janedo's picture
Janedo

I'll get them to try. That's one great looking loaf of bread. My friends with their gas ovens will be very pleased if they can get results like that!

Jane 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

That is the most beautiful loaf!
David

Susan's picture
Susan

Use the cover during the first half of baking. Have fun this weekend!

Susan from San Diego

weavershouse's picture
weavershouse

Susan, that's a gorgeous loaf. Do your breads crackel and sing when they come out of the oven? Mine do sometimes but not often enough. Wish I knew why. Also, what temperature do you begin baking at? Sorry if I've asked you this before.                                                                                                        weavershouse

Susan's picture
Susan

The color is just perfect!

I preheat the oven to 500F, and turn it down to 450F after loading the bread. My aim is to bake the bread at a high temperature without burning its bottom, whatever that takes for a particular oven. The baking sheet is on the second runner from the floor of the oven, and I still have room to use my SS bowl as a cover.

Yes, they usually snap, crackle and pop! I attribute all that noise to the thinner crust. Eric's beautiful baguettes are a prime example.

Thanks much for the compliment.

Susan from San Diego

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

that wonderful crust and crack open the loaf!  I can even feel the CRUNCH between my teeth!  OH SUSAN! 

Mini O

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

Using cover pans appears to be a good idea. I've been looking into ovens used to professionally cook baugettes in France and noticed that the professional ovens there have just enough height in the deck chamber to contain the bread with rise plus clearence for circulation. Steam injected into the chamber quickly fills it during the baking process. Covering the bread with a pan resembles this setup except that the steam injection is missing as is convection.

I have some questions though. Are the covers preheated with the rest of the oven or do you cover the loaf as it is inserted into the oven? I would assume that disposable aluminum roasting pans would also work. Also, what affect does this have on the spring rise? Does this method attain shiny but crispy crusted baugettes?

It just might be easier to start voicing praise on crusts of the Tuscan Dust...,

Wild-Yeast

ehanner's picture
ehanner

The answer to the question depends on the kind of crust you are shooting for. I'm pretty amazed that it works at all with a La Cloche or a 4L glass bowl but, it works just fine putting the cover on right after loading the dough. I like to preheat the pan with the oven, slide the rack out, load the dough, cover it with the bowl or pan and close it up. If you use a stone you can use a little shorter time under cover.

You want to use pans and covers that don't twist or deform when heated. The cheap steel sheet pans warp when they get hot. Once that happens the cover doesn't sit squarely and seal up. I have a heavy aluminum one that works well or use a preheated stone, Good luck.

Eric

Yumarama's picture
Yumarama

I'm still a complete noob so I don't have a lot of loaves in my repertoire, but the few times I've made bread and wanted to steam, I've thought of dripping some water into the oven and right onto the very hot oven floor through the vent that comes up the back right cooktop element.

Alas, I only think of this AFTER I've got the bread in and the hot tiles are in place which happens to be directly under that opening and I don't dare drip water on hot tiles. I just need to remember to place then just a wee bit to the left so I can drip right to the oven floor. Next time. This way I'd be able to get water in the oven without needing to open the door at all. I suppose if I was feeling clever I could also gerryrig some maner of a spray tip on a tube and feed that down the little chute and supply vapour instead of a water drip.

Does this sound like a plausible plan? Any downside you can think of?

 

--------
Paul

sphealey's picture
sphealey

If you search around on this site a bit you should be able to find some pictures of a modification that one member made to allow hot water to be poured through the vent into a cast iron pan on the oven floor. If your oven has electronic controls you do take a bit of a risk of destroying them with the hot vapor, but that is your call.

sPh

Yumarama's picture
Yumarama

I'm not getting your comment about the electronic controls with regard to adding water through the vent hole in the back burner. Would that not apply to bursts of steam from any method?

In case the placement of the hole isn't clear, a visual aid:

Oven vent 1 Oven vent

Oven vent

 

--------
Paul

sphealey's picture
sphealey

=== I'm not getting your comment about the electronic controls with regard to adding water through the vent hole in the back burner. Would that not apply to bursts of steam from any method? ===

Well, unless one is using an actual steam generator with a pressure vessel we are talking about water vapor here not steam.

But in either case once you have an oven full of vapor/steam it finds its way to every corner and opening in the stove, including the part that contains the controls, no matter where the actual vent is. The control on my stove it at the opposite side from the vent but has gotten a little damp although never been damaged; other people who post here have had their control module burn out.

Here is the link to the through-the-vent water injection system.

sPh

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

The simplest and the most effective solution is covering the loaf for the first part of the bake. How often is the best solution also the simplest?  

This weekend, I am going to make at least two different breads and bake one loaf of each in my usual manner (Hot water poured into a cast iron skillet) and the other covered with a stainless steel bowl or an enameled metal roaster.  

I think one will be a country French sourdough, which I would expect to have lots of oven spring and bloom, and the other a sour rye, which has much less oven spring, but should have a crackly crust and usually doesn't. 

I have multiple candidates for a third type of bread. Anyway, stay tuned. 

Thanks for everybody's input!

David

weavershouse's picture
weavershouse

David, just because I know you like rye here's a photo of a recent one baked under cover. Like Susan, I love to see them burst open.

 

Good luck with your baking this weekend. I'm sure we'll be awed with what you do.

 

RYE UNDER COVERRYE UNDER COVER weavershouse

rainbowbrown's picture
rainbowbrown

wow, looks like its got wings. very cool.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, weavershouse. 

I'm planning to make a Jewish sour rye. Actually, I don't want it to burst. I want good oven spring and a thin crackly crust. If covering that kind of bread during the bake results in bursting, I'll try another humidification method.  

Except for the crust, I've been quite happy with how this particular bread has turned out for me. It is supposed to have a pretty homogeneous, moist, chewy crumb which I've seen described as "custardy." It's very different from the Polish and Czech ryes in Daniel Leader's "Local Breads," for example. They might benefit more from covering. 

Examples:
Sour Rye Bread (Norm's formula) Crumb
Sour Rye Bread (Norm's formula) Crumb 
Polish Cottage Rye from "Local Bread" - Crumb
Polish Cottage Rye from "Local Bread" - Crumb  

What recipe did you use for your rye? It does look wonderful. 

David

weavershouse's picture
weavershouse

My breads burst like that when I don't slash them. When I do slash it's more controlled but still not like the smooth topped loaves shown in your photo. But that's just me. I don't know how it will work for you but I hope  you'll give it a try.

 

I've admired "Norm's" rye before and I love the looks of that Polish Cottage Rye. I look forward to seeing your weekend baking.                                                                                        weavershouse

PaddyL's picture
PaddyL

I read in a book by Tom Jaine that, to replicate the baking of soda bread in a bastible, (a pot placed in the fireplace, with coals on the lid) you should cover the bread in the oven with a large heat proof bowl, largely for a more even baking.  I've yet to try this in our oven as it's too tricky to get the door open without its falling off, let alone trying to manoeuver a large bowl on top of a cushion of soda bread.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

and having an oven door fall off is no fun...(and dangerous)   Check the hinges, sometime there are little safety  latches there that need to be "switched"  after removing the oven door when cleaning.  Check the manual if still around.  Or is it a different problem? 

I finally found my bowl, at Ikea.  With added handle it looks like a little SS weber lid.  It fits on my pizza pan of sturdy enamelled steel.

Mini O

PaddyL's picture
PaddyL

The front panel on the oven door is what keeps falling off, and there's no handle any more, so we have to open the oven very carefully, using oven mitts and holding on to both sides, then sticking a knee under the door to catch the panel as it falls.  That panel can be very hot resulting in burned knees, and it takes two of us to operate our oven now; one to hold the door open, the other to put in or take out whatever it is we're cooking/baking.  It's been like this for months, but when the income tax rebates arrive, we'll be getting a new stove.  It's somewhat miraculous that I've been able to bake bread all these months.

Janedo's picture
Janedo

I am really intersted in this covering technique to share with my readers, but there is something I don't get. If the bread is covered, do you still steam or does the bread itself create enough? Could you follow Eric's method and right before the cover is place, throw some water to create steam and then quickly cover the bread? I'd burn myself, I think. Or is steam just no longer necessary?

Jane 

Susan's picture
Susan

The bread creates plenty of steam inside the overturned bowl. I don't use extra water. I don't preheat my SS bowl. The bowl is removed halfway through the baking time. My oven is electric, and very tight, so I crack open the oven just long enough to release the residual steam about 5 minutes before the bread is done.

Susan from San Diego

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

Hi Jane,

To summarize; just find a cover that will fit over the loaf that includes enough height clearence to allow for oven spring and whose edges seat well to the to the oven stone underneath. Preheating the cover is optional but recommended. I think that the closer the fit to the loaf the better the result which implies that there may be a need for more than one cover depending on the type of loaf being baked. I even thought about making a make shift tent out of aluminum foil to try out the method.

Having hovered around my oven vent during the baking I can safely say that the water content of the bread evaporates as the loaf bakes. Reducing ventilation around the cooking loaf elevates humidity using this evaporating water. It may not produce nearly as saturated an environment as a steam injected commercial oven but, compared to all the other methods we've been using, it is simple and straight forward and probably provides more humidity for a longer period than any of the other methods. It also may represent a solution for those with gas ovens. I have not tried this yet as I don't have a suitable cover yet. But intend to try it the day after tomorrow...,

Anyone with a gas oven try this yet or did I miss an entry?

Wild-Yeast

P.S. Was that baugette crust shine in Eric's photo?

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Preheating the cover is NOT required. Unless you have a clay cooker with a handle molded into the cover, preheating makes setting the cover in place dangerous. Susan says she warms the bowl with hot water just before placing it over the dough. That means there will be some drops of water inside the bowl that will turn to steam plus some of the shock of the hot oven is removed. If you really think you need to increase the humidity, spritz some water around the dough on the parchment paper just before loading in the oven. It quickly turns to steam inside the cover.

The point of the cover is slowing the temperature rise in the dough as it starts to bake. If you preheat the cover you are simulating a hearth oven condition where hot radiant heat is applied all around. That's fine but unnecessary if you want a thin crust or want to control the crust.

Eric

edh's picture
edh

A number of us use this with our gas ovens. It is truly the only way I can get a decent crust, as steaming is a joke; I can literally watch the steam come rolling out the vent at the top!

The only drawback is the limiting factor of size. My big oblong roasting pan does great for a couple of smallish boules or batards, gets a little iffy for two baguettes and, well, my attempt at stuffed petit pains yesterday, while a big hit on the taste front, also caused gales of laughter from the "audience" when they came out of the oven. Conjoined loaves, anyone? I'm thinking seriously about trying to find something bigger and rectangular.

A bit off topic, but I'd seen the post at King Arthur about stuffing mini-baguettes with ham and cheese, so tried it using Janedo's baguette recipe. Add a little Raye's mustard (stone ground, locally made) and these are a serious lunch (or supper in this case) treat! I highly recommend it. My hand seems to have slipped during construction as well, as several of them were filled with bittersweet chocolate instead, WOW...

edh

Janedo's picture
Janedo

Do you stuff them before cooking them? Oh my, those must be DEADLY!

I'm doing a new baguette recipe for tomorrow. I hope these work out.

Jane

SteveB's picture
SteveB

Since I, too, have a gas oven, steaming has been problematic for me as well.  Taking a clue from the steam bread maker, I was able to put together a steam chamber from a stainless steel buffet tray that I bought at my local restaurant supply store.  The tray is high enough and long enough to accomodate both boules and demi-baguettes.    

 Steam Set-UpSteam

I keep a pan of landscaping stones in the oven so that the temperature can quickly recover after the oven door has been opened.  Five to ten seconds of steam injection using the hand-held steamer produces a thin, crisp crust. 

 A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes".This

 

Janedo's picture
Janedo

I wrote an article about this in my blog and your setup describes it all perfectly! Would you mind if I used your picture to illustrate?

Jane 

SteveB's picture
SteveB

Jane, I would be honored.  Feel free to use both pictures, if you'd like.

- Steve

weavershouse's picture
weavershouse

Your loaves are picture perfect.What recipe do you use?                                            weavershouse

SteveB's picture
SteveB

Thanks.  I use the formula for baguettes with poolish in Hamelman's "Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes."

slaughlin's picture
slaughlin

Steve

Where did you get you hand held steamer?

Steve

Spearfish SF

SteveB's picture
SteveB

I bought it through E-Bay:

http://tinyurl.com/6k9khx

- Steve

2brownbraids's picture
2brownbraids

 

StevenB

Your baguettes look wonderful, for long covered pans, do you think those french fish pans will work? They are long and narrow and has a relatively heavy lid, though they are rather expensive.  

2brownbraids

SteveB's picture
SteveB

If you are looking to use only the moisture released by the loaf itself to aid in the formation of the crust, then any oven-usable pan appropriately sized to fully cover the loaf will do.  I'm not sure what you mean by a French fish pan, but if you mean a fish poacher, then I would just invert the pan over the baguette once the baguette is loaded onto your baking stone.  Two possible concerns with using a pan of this type: 1) only one baguette can be baked at a time and 2) you have to make sure the handles of the pan don't interfere with the entire rim of the pan coming in contact with the surface of your baking stone.   

2brownbraids's picture
2brownbraids

 

Thank you, StevenB.  When I said French fish pan, it must be the same as  what you meant by poaching pan. (I have a rack in mine and I steam my fish instead of poaching).  To invert the pan on to the stone is not a bad idea, but it may  be rather heavy ?  I was just thinking of putting the dough onto the parchment and lower into the pan and cover for baking - same way as I would use a Cloche, except this will make a longer baugette.

edh's picture
edh

I'm having self control problems with the chocolate filled ones...

I used your Kayser "Monge" dough, but scaled it into 6 pieces, flattened to about a 5" rectangle, laid the chocolate down one edge, then rolled and sealed into a mini-baguette. Same for ham and cheese. One batch got slashed, then my Mum called when I was putting the other in to bake, and I forgot to slash them. Didn't really cause a problem, though they were a little, well, homogenous looking (except where they all stuck together!)

Frankly, I've been having crust problems for the last couple of days; not horrible, but kind of blah, for lack of a better word. I think I'm overproofing; the weather just started getting up into the 60's a couple of days ago, and I think I need to pay attention to times more. Things are just moving a little faster than they were.

One other stuffing thought; I have a friend who makes an awesome chevre, though she hasn't weaned the kids yet, so isn't producing just yet. I'm thinking her garlic/basil and sun-dried tomato chevres would just rock in these, though someone else will have to eat them for me :-(

edh

Janedo's picture
Janedo

My kids are raised on goat and ewe cheese, so those one's will go over JUST fine! I think I'll do that this weekend... thanks for the idea.

OldDoughNut's picture
OldDoughNut

Do you adjust bake time & temperature if you're going to cover a recipe not originally intended to be baked in a covered pan?

I tried baking a loaf in a covered "dutch oven" for the first time today (unfortunately the cover doesn't exactly match the pan, so there's probably a little leakage). My loaf was a basic whole wheat sourdough - I started with Mike Avery's recipe but I added some extra water to soak the flour overnight before mixing - this change made it a very lax dough (probably an extra 1/8 to 1/4 c water).

To bake the lax dough in the dutch oven, I improvised and followed the baking instructions for the "NYTimes No Knead" recipe: preheat the pan to 450F, bake covered 30min & uncovered 15min. The bread turned out good, probably the best crisp top crust I've ever made (though a little darker than I'm accustomed to), but the bottom was definitely too dark & hard (but not burnt - yet!). I was wondering if I should have just followed the original recipe's baking instructions & baked it a little longer.

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Baking in a dutch oven is not the same as covering with a pan, especially if the cover doesn't fit. It doesn't matter if the recipe calls for covering the loaf. The point in doing that is to get a nice thin crispy crust without steaming. The whole No Knead thing is another subject altogether. Read the thread above and try it just like it's written. You can get a 4 Liter bowl or turkey roaster anywhere cheap. Good luck.

Eric

GrapevineTXoldaccount's picture
GrapevineTXolda...

cooking pot I purchased years ago.  It's stainless steel, large, and totally a misfit in my kitchen, but tomorrow it becomes the 'cover' for my baking boule.  And to think, I almost tossed this treasure after the last burnt chili episode.  What was I thinking?...oh yeah, that was BEFORE bread.  :)

LindyD's picture
LindyD

This is a fascinating thread and a technique I'd like to try.

We have a large metal pan or bowl sitting on our hot stone, covering the bread. The cover is very hot and probably has no handles.

What's the trick in getting that hot cover off the bread and out of the oven without getting charred in the process?


 

 

Susan's picture
Susan

I assume that silicone hotpads would do the trick, as well. I'll have to try a couple. A strong magnet sounds like a good idea, too.

Removing the bowl

Removing the bowl

Susan from San Diego

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Put on an apron if you're naked. Clear the area of children and pets.

Then arm yourself with a pair of brightly colored oven mitts (they don't have to match.) Search for a long, sturdy, heat withstanding instrument, with a thin edge. A long knife is a good choice, Susan's is even better.  Now open the oven door.... pull the shelf out a bit and put one mitt on one side of the bowl as you slip the tip of knife under lip of bowl, prepare for a cloud of very hot steam and get out of the way! Elevate the edge high enough to slip a mitt under the edge and pull the bowl carefully off away from you, a bigger steam cloud will escape as you upright the bowl. Keep the bowl out in front of you to let the steam escape as far from your face as possible (this also keeps your spectacles from fogging up.) Park the hot bowl on a secure spot and return to oven to push self (and bread) back inside.  Finish the bake.  Remove apron.

If you want to try some dry runs, by all means go ahead! The apron should still be used and the mitts as well, pretend the bowl has bad breath. You can substitute steam with a "woooshing" sound.

Mini O

ehanner's picture
ehanner

One of the properties of Stainless Steel is that it has such a small amount of Iron that it won't attract a magnet. If yours does it isn't stainless steel.
Naked in an apron? (now that's a word picture)

Eric

sphealey's picture
sphealey

Stainless steels are generally around 80% iron. The most common types include some percentage of nickel; the addition of nickel changes the molecular structure of the material and prevents the iron atoms from lining up in the shape necessary to support a magnetic field. There are magnetic stainless steels but they are not common in everyday use.

sPh

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Sounds like a farrier's apron and welder's mask might be useful for this operation. Rube Goldberg in the kitchen.

Windischgirl's picture
Windischgirl

Hey Mini,

this has been an interesting thread, but I am worried about one line in your post:

"push self (and bread) back inside [oven]."

It sounds suspiciously like baking instructions written by the Brothers Grimm.  Can this technique only be used by people named Hansel or Gretl?  ;-)

Seriously, I will have to try this technique.  Crust is the thing in our house!

I have a batch of Zopf (aka, Swiss-style challah, aka cholesterol in a loaf) rising, but with the high fat content of the dough, I think I want a softer crust...will save it for the Columbia sourdough ( don't recall the full name...a la Glezer) that's on tap for tomorrow. 

 Windi

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

that should have been shelf, sorry.  Have you seen the Brothers Grimm movie?

My son gave me a t-shirt for my 50th. Says: "Come to the Dark Side, we have cookies!"

I had written about SS and magnets not sticking, then I retracted it when a magnet stuck to my latest SS bowl from Ikea. Then I took one SS bowl manufactured here (18/10) and the magnet didn't stick. Then turned them both over. Ikea has made in China stamped on it. Now I don't feel so bad drilling a hole and attatching a handle to it.

Mini O