The Fresh Loaf

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Oven Steaming - My New Favorite Way

SylviaH's picture

Oven Steaming - My New Favorite Way

I have been wanting to try this method for sometime and have just been putting it off until today.  Of coarse I had to pick today, my kitchen still in some construction mode after remodeling my shower, it had leaked through on the kitchen ceiling, an appointment with a glass and mirror installer...and today is Mike's birthday, so everything is in a bit of a rush.  I baked a couple of mulitigrain loaves, and upon doing this I decided to try a new method of creating steam in my oven.  I'm convinced the only way I'm going to get steam that's not continually 'vented' out of my oven is by using this method.  This is so much easier for me..a lot less effort to create constant steam.  Pictures are worth a thousand words.

Preheated the loaf pans in my oven one or two 5 1/2" X 9 1/2" dark non-stick loaf pans...I used 2 loaf pans with 2 tightly rolled towels in each pan.

Placed 2 water soaked towels into a 6X10 Pyrex glass dish.  Microwaved them for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.  Until good and hot.

I removed a pre-heated loaf pan from the oven.  Turned my pre-heating oven onto the Bake mode.

Using Tongs I placed the hot towels into the loaf pan. Placed the pan and hot towels back into the oven

Repeated for the other loaf pan and towels.

Using a 8oz. pyrex cup, I microwaved a 1/2 cup of water until it boiled.  Poured the hot water over the two hot rolled towels in one of the loaf pans.

I then repeated for the other loaf pan.  I covered my glass door with a towel and left the pans in the oven while pouring the hot water over the towels.

More or less water can be added.  I had my towels very wet with a little water on the bottom of the pans.

The oven was pre steamed and steamed.  There was constant steam coming from the towels..  Up to 10 minutes after the pans were removed from the oven, there was still steam present, lots of it.  Photos of this steam.  It's not easy to get photos of steam but I did manage if you look closely at the photo.

This is the first time I have tried this method.  It is so much easier for me and creates that constant steam I have been after, without losing it to my venting oven...there's always steam present until the pans are removed.  I think one pan would work nicely too. 

My bread is still cooling.  Mike and I are off to enjoy the evening out.


            Tongs should have been included in this photo.  A couple of  large multigrain loaves was todays's baking.


                  Microwave heating the wet towels in a the pyrex dish



                                                           Steaming the oven



                                                        Steam coming from towels, apx. 10 minutes after being removed from the oven



          ADDED: A little better photo.  Steam coming from the towels several minutes after being removed from the oven.

                                  As I said in the post to Larry, there is some scientific reason

why the steam vapors are not as visable in a hot oven..something I think to do with the air being hotter and so the vapors do not show like they do in cooler air...something like that!  But the steam is in the oven, even though you can't notice it as much as you do outside the oven.  I think I will try a little less steam in my next bake.









SylviaH's picture

no matter what steaming method is used

  I have quite a collection of all those steaming devices used for trying different methods,  (purchased, metal lid w/the steamer, turkey pan lids, clay la cloches, stainless steel, pirex bowls, iron pan with lava rocks, pie pans with holes, nuts & bolts, lodge iron set, iron ceramic lined pots w/lids, foil lids, spray bottles).  I'm sure I've forgotten some others..  tucked away into my cupboards and some now moved into the garage...what a lot of space and money I could have saved.  Some of these things are still very usuable and steam nicely but are no longer used by me.

For more experimenting or my safety issues with steaming!


Skibum's picture

I tried your steamed towel technique this morning and it is way easier and safer than my previous method which involved pouring boiling water into a broiler pan.  It is so easy to heat the towels in the microwave, remove the pan and put in the hot, steaming towels, add another 1/2 - 3/4 cup boiling water and then return the pan to the oven for 5 minutes to let the steam build.   Then I just load the loaf and remove the steam pan when I turn the loaf @ the 10 minute mark.  The beauty of this technique is it's simpicity and saftey.  Many thanks for sharing!  

It is difficult to determine if this improved the bake, as all of my baking skills, from dough handling to scoring continue to improvewith each new technique discovered and learned. Each new bake seems to be better than the last and today's loaf was excellent tasting!

Once again thanks Floyd for this exceptional site and thanks for keeping it clean.

Regards, Brian

SylviaH's picture

for the nice comment.  Yep, steaming is just one of the steps to do to get a nice loaf!

Happy baking and steaming!


cor's picture

Hey Sylvia,


I just posted about the trouble with actually keeping the steam in the oven without throwing water on rocks or something really ridiculous and risky to the oven.  Your idea is awesome.  It remedies my problem of how to bake bread in a loaf pan on a hearth stone and keep the bread steamed without a Dutch oven.  I have yet to try it but from what I've seen it looks awesome.  Thanks Sylvia-  I'll definitely post pictures of my results depending on how they turn out! :)

SylviaH's picture

Glad you like the idea.  Thanks for the comment!  Hope you try it and like it even more.  I would love to see your photo results.  


cor's picture

I would have paid money to have this info, the water towels on the bottom of the oven. followed your way mostly, except used a sheet pan instead of loaf pans for the towels. also left the towels in for 30 minutes to mimic our wood fired oven. We load the oven completely full and seal it off for the entire bake, so the bread sits in steam the entire bake. And it came out great. Here is a pic. The bread is sourdough 1/2 whole wheat, 1/2 whole rye, with hydration at 100% or more. Thanks again, Sylvia.



SylviaH's picture

Your loaf turned out beautifully.  I do change pans, depending on what works for me.  Sometimes I just put the towels in my cheapo recycled aluminum pie pans and I use the sheet pan in my wood fired oven...though I do prefer higher sides on my pans for my safety sakes.   So now, I' am changing to cake type pans instead of the sheet pans.  I don't bake a lot of loaves at once...maybe someday I will.  Right now just a few loaves for the two of us and limited freezer space. 

Glad you were able to save your money!  I sure wasted some on other steaming devices.

Happy Easter,


Truth Serum's picture
Truth Serum

I purchased two ceramic loaf pans filling them with an inch of water while I preheat the oven. Then I add my  microwaved towels to the hot ceramic pans. Seams to do the trick.

timbit1985's picture

Not a scientist, an HVAC-R mechanic.

Maximum humidity of air relates to the temperature. The hotter air is, the more grains of water it can hold. Thus, the steam in a hotter than hell oven will probably not be visible because it is constantly venting out the oven, reducing the humidity of the oven compartment, allowing more water to evaporate without condensing (That is what visible steam is.)

When you remove the hot towels from the oven, all of a sudden the air surrounding the towels is no longer able to hold all of that evaporating water, thus you can SEE the steam condensing into a cloud of vapour.

Truth Serum's picture
Truth Serum

crustThis crust crackled when I sliced it!

davidg618's picture


The science is simple: water vapor is the gaseous form of water, and is invisible. The visible clouds seen above the heated, dampened clothes are composed of small drops of condensed vapor, I.e. water in its liquid state.

Your correct that the air inside the closed oven is hotter than the the air in the oven when the door is opened. At atmospheric pressure the hotter air can keep all the water evaporated from your cloth lined pan entirely gaseous. The cooler air outside can't sustain all the water vapor as a gas, therefore some condenses into droplets.

Fog, and mist are other examples of gaseous water vapor condensed into water droplets.

David G

P.S. I've gone to baking most of my breads under inverted steam-table pans--I bake three 1 or 1-1/2 lb. loaves under a single pan. I get approximately 10% more volume increase doing this. However, on those occasions when I don't use the pan I still rely on your favorite steaming method. I've never found anything better.



VPULSANI's picture

Dumb question. When do you remove the wet towel pans from the oven. Immediately after you load the bread? First 10 minutes of baking ? 

Deteoliv's picture

Hi everybody, after 7 years from the silvia discovery about steaming I would like to know if anyone could find another way to give steam to a home oven? Or this technique is still valid. Thanks a lot.

SaraBClever's picture

I have a question about where to put the loaf pans.  I usually see people talking about putting the pans at the bottom of the oven when steaming.  But I see you have one pan above, and one pan next to, the loaf.  I have a rather large baking stone and I would think that it would block a lot of steam from rising.  (I have the Fibrament -D).

vagabon1031's picture

aaaah! Your step-by-step is very useful. I’ve been banging my head over steam. I’m definitely giving this a try. Thank you Sylvia!