The Fresh Loaf

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Steaming an oven for bread: Having trouble with towel method

David20's picture

Steaming an oven for bread: Having trouble with towel method

This is what I tried but got pretty bad results (thick, pale crust) and am wondering if anybody can offer advice. I had two towels (microwaved to perfection) in one cake pan with 1/2 cup of water boiled. I used a baking steel to make french baguettes on the middle oven rack and ran out of space to put the pan next to the steel so I put it in the rack under the steel.

  1. Towels over or next to bread is probably better?

  2. I'm thinking it probably would make sense to put the towels a few minutes before putting bread.

I would like to troubleshoot before my next attempt, if I can get any other advice. Thank you!!

Another question I just thought of. Should I turn off convection baking in my oven? Maybe it's ventilating the steam out?

hanseata's picture

I use small pebble stones in an aluminum foil loaf pan. To steam, I pour a cup of boiling water over the hot stones. This worked well for my home-based micro-bakery (and convection!) and now for my new oven (baking mode).

I found the microwaved towel procedure a bit too fussy, and the small loaf pan takes less room, it fits next to the baking stone.


Nutty Loaf's picture
Nutty Loaf

1: Convection oven, I remember seeing posts on this site for whether to use. I suggest searching. I don't use mine, I use the "Baking" setting.

2: My process for steaming is just a baking sheet, and throwing water on it. The baking sheet is at the bottom of the oven (or the rack directly under the steel). I don't measure water, etc, just fill a large drinking glass, throw it in (from the tap), and it consistently seems to work.

3: Baking Steel - have you used this consistently? It took me a while to convert from the baking stone to figure it out. I have found the bread to bakes faster, so I do check about 10-15 minutes earlier than what it "should be"

I've attached a picture. Feel free to laugh at the scoring (I do). It is an area I've still working on (and you can seen I'm playing with it). Bread: Sourdough with whole wheat & rye.


Benito's picture

It took some trials but over the summer I figured out my oven set up for baking baguettes.  I place my Sylvia towel in an old bread pan with boiling water in the oven 30 mins before baking.  The idea here is to pre-steam the oven even though opening the door to load the baguettes loses some steam.  You want the oven to be as saturated as possible when you bake with steam.  I use an upper shelf for the Sylvia towel and also place my cast iron skillet on that shelf during pre-heat and after the baguettes are loaded I pour 1 cup of boiling water into the skillet.  For my oven I found I had better oven spring if my baguettes baked lower in my oven so the way to achieve that is to do the steam setup above the baguettes.

I turn convection off during pre-heat and steam.  Once steaming is done and I’ve removed my steam gear I then usually, if I remember, turn convection back on.]