The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Best way to steam a deck oven with no steam injection?

BazF's picture

Best way to steam a deck oven with no steam injection?


I have just bought a 3 deck, 2 tray Tom Chandley Oven c.1990 with stone floor but no steam injection.  This is my first commercial oven and I am self taught now baking for Farmers Markets.

I am trying to replicate the excellent results I have been obtaining baking artisan style loves for the past 8 years in our Aga.

Can anyone give me some advice on the following:-

1. How best to steam the oven? I have been using a small garden sprayer but the results are erratic and the loaves still look dull and lifeless! Is a large, pressurised sprayer the way to go?

2.  How much steam do I try and introduce and when?

3. How do I best handle the 'top' and 'bottom' heat settings? I am getting lots of spring in fact to much with many of the loaves losing their shape and distorting. Is this because there is too much 'bottom' heat? I am baking directly on the stone floor usually at 225/230C.

I would really appreciate your help.



Yerffej's picture


I added steam by using a pressure cooker that sits next to the oven.  I ran a line from the cooker into the heat chamber to release steam under the stone deck.  10 minutes of steam prior to putting the dough in with the top heat closed.  When the loaves go in I open the top heat to let the steamy air in.  This is certainly not ideal and not very powerful but it does help.  Using this method it is not possible to introduce too much steam.  I turn the steam off after 10 minutes.

Your temperature sounds right, if you are getting excess oven spring, your loaves are underporoofed.

The new oven demands that you learn all that you can from it.  You need to become friends with the oven and realize that it will bake quite differently from the Aga.  It is an ongoing learning process and may even cause you to alter some of your bread formulae to make them work better in this oven.

I use the top heat to control the browning of the crust.  It is open about 60% for the first half of the bake, I then rotate the position of the loaves on the deck and open the top heat 100%.  In the last few minutes, if the loaves lack crust color, I turn the thermostat up high to generate a hot flow of air over the loaves to brown them.

I hope that this helps.  I baked some very questionable and inferior loaves for about a month after switching ovens in a situation similar to yours.  Your new oven can do the job, you just need to find out how.



Aideuis's picture

I have a electric deck oven and have been using a cast iron skillet filled with 1/4" of water put in while the oven comes up to temperature when I do not have enough bread to fill the oven.  The best steaming I have ever achieved is to simply turn the oven up to between 550F-600F and load the deck full of bread then mist with water.  I will then open the door and dampener to release the steam and close the door while leaving the damper open for the rest of the bake.  I have been thinking about installing a brass nozzle (mist) with a 1/4" copper line run through a solenoid valve.  The copper line will hopefully be run close enough to the elements and be long enough by coiling, that by the time the water reaches the nozzle it will be hot enough to create a mist/steam.  If any one has tried doing something like this it would be nice to know if it worked.

GSnyde's picture

I have very successfully used a combination of the iron skillet with lava rocks and Sylvia's steamy terrycloth towels (  It makes LOTS of steam.

Good luck.


sandydog's picture

Hi Barry,

I bake regularly in a Tom Chandley Oven very similar (From your description) to yours c.1990 with stone floor but no steam injection.

1. How best to steam the oven?                                                                                                                                                                                     I have been using a (1 Litre) plastic water bottle - The type you would see sports persons drinking from - It is great for squirting as much as you want, deep into the oven, onto the stone hearth - Really cheap and effective. 

2.  How much steam do I try and introduce and when?                                                                                                                                          I usually load 6 or 8 loaves (Depending on their shape/size) on a tray and when I am ready to bake I close the damper, open the deck and squirt in about 250ml of water then close the deck to pre steam the oven. I then decant my loaves from their bannetons onto the tray, slash them with the required pattern and get the tray as close to the oven as possible ready to put it in as soon as possible after I have opened the deck and squirted in another 250ml of water - Get that tray in as fast as possible and close the deck. I guess this might be a problem for you if you are loading several loaves (One at a time) with a peel onto the hearth as the time it takes you to do that will allow most of the steam to escape (Into your face and on your hands/arms). If you do not wish to use trays then I recommend pre steaming the oven as above then spray the loaves themselves before you put them in. 

3. How do I best handle the 'top' and 'bottom' heat settings?                                                                                                                             Like you, I am baking usually around about 225/230C and, for baking on aluminium trays, I find that top heat 7 and bottom heat 5 is about right for most of my hearth breads - Buns a little higher temperature, large loaves may have to have lower temperature after 20 minutes or so to pevent crust burning. I have to say however that I have baked in two simlar Tom Chandley ovens in different locations and, whilst there was not much difference in performance, I do have to play around with top/bottom settings to obtain best results depending on the breads and whether I bake directly on the sole plate, an aluminium tray or a cast iron tray. You will need to experiment to find the best settings for your oven/loaves to achieve the simultaneous perfect crust (That's the way you want it) with a perfectly baked crumb (Again, to your requirements - not anyone else')

Hope this helps.


BazF's picture

Thanks Brian and others have contributed to this thread.

I shall be trying your various suggestions and will report back.


Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Hi Barry.

You can try what I use.  I get good results and without the fuss and mess of using ice, water, spray methods.  Here is the link to my past post:

Here's a link to a recent bake that used this roaster steaming method:

If you have any questions, please feel free to message me.


DGoldy's picture

This is my first post as my bread experience pales by comparison to so many contributors to the site. I feel that I really needed to share this. I have been looking for help here trying to get some guidance on how best to turn my new cheap Chinese pizza oven into a rockin' steam capable bread oven. So, after trying every conceivable trick found on this site and others ( except the pressure cooker hack)  I decided I needed to do something to make my bread making life easier and get scalded a little less often.

I searched the internet and chanced upon a site called Vevor US which sells a relatively inexpensive sauna type steam maker . Stainless Steel, Auto fill, timer and auto drain capable with a coupon I found on line $124. delivered.

I got it hooked up yesterday and the results were, after a 5 minute preheat, a full oven of steam in less than 1 minute.

Simple is better prevailed and I used an old 30A RV plug labeled "for RV use only" LOL get the 220v into the box.

I insulated the 1/2" copper pipe and ran it in through the back of the oven. No fancy drilled SS distributor pipe.

The directions say that the generator can make steam for an hour so I imagine I could have gotten away with a smaller version but the 4kw model I found on another site was actually more expensive.

I didn't look carefully enough at the details when I ordered it but this least expensive unit came with a control panel without the timer. The timer was important so I wrote them to see if I could order their other controller with timer.

If someone in the forum already did this and posted it and I didn't see it, I apologize. I'm just so excited about the results that I had to share .

This is the best work-around I could come up with and as we all know, for a home bakery, a real steam deck oven is just way too expensive.

DGoldy's picture

The results were great. Since up until now I have been using a Dutch Oven in my home kitchen I'm used to timing the first part of the bake anyway so I am less hung up on getting the control panel with the timer now. I just press the off button and open the vent and it works perfectly.

albacore's picture

Nice to hear you are getting good results with your steam generator. I am a founder member of the pressure cooker crew, which works very well for me in a domestic oven setup.

I have looked at those steam generators with interest, tho, but they are overkill for me.

I did wonder about response time for injection; do you have to have it blasting into the room (or a vent) and then divert it into the oven once the loaves are in? Or do you only fire it up once the loaves are in. In which case what is the time lag before you have the oven full of steam? Or do they allow steam pressure to build up so the steam is ready to go?


barryvabeach's picture

Dgoldy,  looks pretty impressive.   

DGoldy's picture

Hi Lance,

Those are all good questions.So far, the way this thing works is as soon as I press the on button the valve opens to top up the water, I can hear the element instantly begin to heat kind-of like a counter top water kettle. Within a couple of minutes I can't see through the oven window anymore and the oven door will start leaking steam around the edges. The generator has no pressure buildup . It's really just a stainless steel tank with a heating element in it.So I saturate the oven before I load the bread. I just let the generator continue to run through the load and up to the 6 minute mark for Baguettes and the 14 minute mark for Miches and Boules. Then I open the vent in the back of the oven which drops the temperature and lets the steam out. I open the door to put a probe in one of the loaves and cook until I get up to 210 or 212F internal.
albacore's picture

Thanks for explaining - it sounds like you are getting serious amounts of steam into your oven!