The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Steam setup and baking stone temp

Telebakes's picture

Steam setup and baking stone temp

I've been baking for a while now and have a nice routine.  Using a what I believe is the Old Stone Oven 14.5x16.5 stone  in a 30" GE electric oven.  My steam setup is a half sheet tray sitting on the oven floor with a 10" iron skillet.   I have the stone on a rack as low as it can go, just clearing the skillet.

Steam procedure is :  

-  place 4 ice cubes in the skillet while getting the loaves scored and ready. 

- quickly pour 1 cup of hot water in to the sheet pan to generate a blast of steam

- load loaves onto stone 

For a full bake of my 1.5 lb sourdough boules, I typically will start at 460 and let the oven cool to 420 by the end (45 mins or so).  Any hotter and the upper crust is overbaked.   (my temps have been checked btw)

My bottom crusts however are always a fair bit lighter in color and a bit thinner.   Raising the stone higher up results in more of an imbalance with the top darkening too soon.

Is my steam setup cooling off the stone too much? or shielding the stone from the heating element underneath by using the full sheet pan?

Is this stone just too low heat capacity?  I was thinking of getting a Cordierite stone (Pizzacraft) which is a little bigger anyway. Any experience or comparisons?

What about baking at a higher temperature for shorter time? My attempts at 460 deg in my oven has the crust burning by 35 minutes with slightly underdone centers.

Helpful suggestions are very welcome!

AlanG's picture

so it is difficult to pinpoint exactly what the problem might be.  I don't know much about the stone in question and it just might be that there is a heat capacity problem, especially if the bottom crust is underdone.  I use a baking steel myself and don't have any issues at all with the crust.  I use the towel in baking pan technique for steam generation, putting the wet heated towels into the oven five minutes before the bread goes in.  I have a 5 inch clearance between the rack with the steam apparatus and the rack with the baking steel. 

My standard bake is two 500g batards and they bake at 460F with steam for 15 minutes followed by 420F in convection mode without steam for 15 minutes.  Loaves come out just fine.