The Fresh Loaf

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Tip - how to check for steam in oven

DanAyo's picture

Tip - how to check for steam in oven

I am contemplating a Rofco, but would prefer to use my home oven if it would produce enough steam and hold consistent heat. Since ovens are filled with hot air, steam is invisible. Today, I went for the fence and preheated the oven with a stone, a full size steam pan filled with lava rocks, and a Rofco Steam Pod. 20 minutes before the bake I poured 1 cup of boiling water into the Rofco pod and 2 cups into the steam pan. I folded a wet bath towel and plugged up the steam vents in the top of the oven door. After the 20 minute pre-steam, the loaf was loaded and the water was refreshed exactly like before. With all of that done I searched every vent on the oven looking for steam and couldn’t find any at all. But I came up with an idea.

I got a mirror and started search around the oven vents. I discovered that steam was coming out of the steam vent that is located within the oven’s control panel. The mirror fogged up instantly. I checked the door vents that was blocked with a wet towel and found no steam leakage.

It was also reassuring to learn that after the steam vessels were removed, there was no steam to be found anywhere coming from the oven. Seeing is believing...

I thought posting this might help others in search of their oven’s steam. It work exceptionally well for me.


Update - I have since made a video about oven steaming and thought it might be of interest to some. I am still in the learning process, so this is a work in progress...

NOTE - to go straight to the section about testing for steam, scroll to the 2:30 mark. In this demonstration the oven is cold so there is no humidity on the mirror.

NOTE - just in case the entirety of this post is not read, here is a nugget. BikeProf brought up the fact that pre-steamng an oven has no benefit. My own testing proves this. When an oven is vented of steam (opening the door) all steam and humidity is lost. The mirror test should validate this. 

The Rofco vs. home oven (pretaining to steam) question remains. I know the oven can be steamed for 20 minutes or more (if necessary). But I don’t know if the amount of steam generated is enough to maximize the bake.

AlanG's picture

I have a KitchenAid convection oven.  I don't use the convection feature for the first fifteen minutes as the fan will just blow the steam out of the oven.  I use the towel(s) in a baking pan method for generating steam.  When the steam apparatus is in place and I open the oven to load the loaves I'm greeted with a blast of steam that fogs up my glasses.  This is how I know there is enough steam in the oven!!!

DanAyo's picture

maybe I ought to pickup a pair of glasses :-D

albacore's picture

Dan, did you ever progress the pressure cooker steaming apparatus? I think it's my next port of call for the perfect steam system.


DanAyo's picture

I never got to that Lance, but I did look into the equipment. Have you thought about making a port in your oven to inject the steam? That is an idea I have entertained.

My latest venture concerning steam was to purchase a Rofco Steam Pod. It is very heavy and well built, but I’m not sure it produces more steam than a full size steam pan loaded with lava rocks.

The sweet thing about the mirror is that you can use it to search around your oven looking for leaks. It also confirmed that after removing the steam apparatus, that all steam was gone from the oven immediately.

If you do experiment with the pressure cooker, please make sure that I get your findings. I am interested in this concept. 

I considered this UNIT. I also considered this VALVE using this TUBE.


bikeprof's picture

not sure why you would pre-steam at all in a home oven, let alone 20 minutes are going to vent that steam off when you open the door, and are then left with less capacity for generating more steam by that point too...add to that the fact that it shouldn't take that long to load and then fill the oven with steam, there shouldn't be much lag time between loading and steaming...

I don't pre-steam in my 1 sheet pan deep by 3 pans wide deck oven, as the steam gets vented off when I open the door in seconds, and I'm left with less steam generating capacity after I do.  I recently confirmed that it was counter-productive in my context with Didier Rosada, after he recommended pre-steaming as a generally good thing in more standard (large, deep) commercial deck ovens...

DanAyo's picture

I read that others recommended a pre-steam. I assumed the insides of the oven would benefit. But after testing with the mirror, I am sure no residual humidity remains. But, you saved me unnecessarily effort. I hadn’t put 2 and 2 together and probably would have continued to pre-steam.

THANKS for bringing that to my attention!

I can see no benefit in pre-steaming.


Doc.Dough's picture


Look toward the bottom of this post

I have attempted to present in a quantitative way the things you need to calculate energy use and water consumption for a notional electric oven with a steam generator that approximates yours.

DanAyo's picture

Thanks for the reminder, Doc. When it comes to you and Debra I find it necessary to read and reread your post. I have read that post many times and I think I understand it better each new read. Understanding is an issue as is remembering the things I learn. But none of that is going to stop me...

I did post a question for you on the linked post.

Thanks for the help!