The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Steam for baguettes

Walter D's picture
Walter D

Steam for baguettes

For most of my bakes I use clay bakers and am able to cover the loaves for part of the bake trapping moisture for steam, but when I try baguettes (I do mean try.), I have no way of covering the loaves. I put a pan on a rack below the loaves and add hot water after I put the the loaves in the oven, but I wonder if that will produce adequate steam. Does anyone have a better method?

Since I'm emulating what I do with my clay bakers where I remove the lids part way through the bake, I take the pan of water out of the oven about half way through the bake. Should I leave it longer? Should I leave it in for the whole bake?

Thank you for any suggestions -- baguette challenged here.

Walter

kendalm's picture
kendalm

Assuming your issue is the size of the loaf and you want to cover it yeah ? If you are in USA these pans are a dime a dozen and you can find large ones and just cover up the loaf and you won't need any steaming contraptions.  If you have an electric oven a good steam system is a tray of lava rocks doused with about a half cup of water immediately before you shut the door.  Then evacuate after anywhere between 5 and 15 minutes.  This part (the evacuation point) is debatable and best left to your own experimentation.  This way, with a burst of steam that you trap there will be no need to cover the loaves and you can watch the magic of the burst ;) 

Walter D's picture
Walter D

I have seen some videos that use the lava rocks. I will have to give that a try.

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

Walter, try this  sylvia's steaming towels

Walter D's picture
Walter D

Another interesting idea.

wheeledgoat's picture
wheeledgoat

Aluminum tray w/ lava rocks works great for me.   Be sure to let the tray and lava rocks preheat with the oven.  I get 1 cup of water boiling in the stovetop kettle and pour it into the tray after putting the bread in, right before shutting the oven door.

Walter D's picture
Walter D

I may try the lave rocks. It looks like the simplest solution. Do you leave them in the oven for the whole bake or do you remove them part way through the bake time?

wheeledgoat's picture
wheeledgoat

I find that 1 cup of water is gone in 5-10min - by the time I'm rotating the loaves it's bone dry so I don't bother removing it.  If anything, I imagine it helps retain a little bit of heat in the oven.

wheeledgoat's picture
wheeledgoat

update to the water for steam: over the weekend just read Paul Hollywood's book where he suggests 1 liter of water in the pan for steaming (four times the 1 cup I was using).  Tried it and even after a 40min bake there was water left, but the crust was AWESOME on the baguettes!   I think it's very important to not open that oven door during the first part of the bake, though, as I remain convinced that's when the bulk of the steam benefit is had.

FYI I also used 1L of hot water for a regular white loaf and it also came out perfectly.  So my new amount of boiling water to add to my tray of lava rocks in the bottom of the oven is 1L.  And I'm purposefully a little sloppy pouring it in, so some of it hits the bottom of the oven and instantly vaporizes to boost the initial steam.  I've never read to do this anywhere, but seems to work great for me!

Walter D's picture
Walter D

Thank you for the update. I have one follow-up question: In what kind of pan do you place the rocks and then pore the water. I guess I've read that people use cast iron, but I'm wondering if one of my aluminum lasagna pans would work as well.

wheeledgoat's picture
wheeledgoat

I'm using a square disposable aluminum pan that's only about 10" across (sorry for imperial - doing my best to switch over to metric but it's not intuitive for me yet).   Once this wears out I might look for one that's a little wider/larger to exposed more surface area of the water, but this seems to work great.

Walter D's picture
Walter D

Again thank you. I am in the US and we are metric challenged as well so your 10" across is fine.

Walter

wheeledgoat's picture
wheeledgoat

No problem Walter - I'm in Chicago.    How are your baguettes coming?   I found this Paul Hollywood recipe to be fairly bulletproof - did it twice over the weekend with great crust and crumb both times.  And bonus: unlike many baguette recipes I've found that use a starter and/or refrigerated & overnight proofing (requiring 24hr planning), this is just the standard rise, punchdown, 2nd proof and bake.  Want me to send it to you?  

-John

Walter D's picture
Walter D

Hi John,

I'm in Phoenix, and my baguettes have been disappointing. I have been using my basic bread recipe of 75% AP, 25% WW with a smidgen of Rye at about 73% hydration. It makes a nice batard, but the baguettes are not the nice open crumb I'm seeking. I know that part of the issue is my shaping.

I am planning on trying this recipe https://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/30512/txfarmers-36-hour-baguettes posted by isand66. It looks interesting. If you have another recipe to try, I'd be happy to have it.

Walter

 

wheeledgoat's picture
wheeledgoat

It seems you're quite a bit further along with baguettes; I haven't even considered messing around with other flour types, I'm still using "strong" (bread) flour exclusively.  If shaping is an area you're focusing on, this recipe might suit you well - it's relatively small (2 minis) and quick turnaround will get you more reps to practice.  Also, I included a pic of the page where Paul demonstrates the shaping part and emphasizes the importance of keeping it tight as you roll it out.  Good luck!

Note: I'm going to PM you the shot of the recipe.  Since I literally took photos of the pages of Paul Hollywood's "How To Bake" book, I don't want to get The Fresh Loaf in trouble for copyright or anything.

wheeledgoat's picture
wheeledgoat

I can't seem to figure out how to private message on this board, nor am I able to find a help file anywhere.  Is this feature turned on?   Anyway, shoot me an email - my username at yahoo - and I'll send to ya.