The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

What kind of cloths for steaming?

Ctwith3's picture

What kind of cloths for steaming?

I need to up my game and am going to give the steaming towels in the bottom of the oven as SylviH and JoeVa recommend, but am not sure what kind of cloth to use. Wash cloths? Bar towels?

Also, is there any specific lava rocks I should choose over another? I have seen different sizes and am unsure which to add to the ole shopping cart. I don’t want to sound lazy, but maybe some of you can send me a link to what you’re using? I can be so indecisive some times.

‘Thank you all for your help and advice! You folks are a great group. Sometimes I just sit and read, and get more confused, and learn so much. 

Our Crumb's picture
Our Crumb

A basic principle behind Sylvia towel type steaming is providing and maximizing surface area from which water can evaporate.  Therefore, terrycloth towels make sense, since the tiny tufts with which they're covered increase surface area substantially, wicking water from the underlying weave.  I, and most Sylvia adherents I presume, use terrycloth dish towels.

As for lava rocks -- I don't imagine there's much choice.  Use whatever's available.  I'd love to say "Vesuvius for Pane di Altamura, Etna for pastries, Kilauea for Portuguese Sweet Bread..." 

Oops.  There I said it.

Happy baking, and steaming.


barryvabeach's picture

I have been using just standard kitchen towels so far, and they work fine.  Not sure why you would also need lava rocks, since my recollection was  that Sylvia was just using towels in preheated pans, not lava rocks.  Also,  I don't preheat the pans,  I found that microwaving the towels, then adding lots of boiling water got the pans pretty hot.  One issue was that the loaf pans that I used got rusty - could be problem with the pan, so I switched to something similar to a round stainless steel pan with very short sides, and that worked well in a small oven that I use for baking.  

Benito's picture

For my Sylvia towel, which is what we’ve been calling this invention of Sylvia’s around here, I just use an old Terry cloth.  I roll it tightly and place it in an old metal loaf pan that it fits perfectly into.  That loaf pan is now slowly rusting but it works for this purpose.  For additional steam I also use my cast iron skillet.