The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Variations on steam

Scott_R's picture

Variations on steam

Whenever I've wanted to add steam to my oven, I've put a cast iron pan in on a low rack and added boiling water to it just after I put the dough in.

I've seen some small variations on this, and wondered if there are any real evaluations that compare them:

-- boiling water vs room temp

-- ice vs water

-- ice in advance, to give more time for steam to spread through the oven--yes, steam would be lost when the oven is opened to put the dough in, but perhaps there's still higher levels of steam than otherwise?

Anyone aware of actual comparisons?

suave's picture

No two ovens are alike, and any direct comparison is meaningless.

Sugarowl's picture

Different types of oven will need different steaming methods. For example, my gas oven has two big air vents which should never ever be covered, so if I want steam I use a dutch oven. Some people spray water on the hot oven walls, but if you hit the oven light it could it explode. Search on here for steaming methods. I seem to remember a thread where everyone and their dog (Lucy?) had a trick to get steam in their oven depending on what kind of oven they had. :)

RossoCorsa458's picture


Back in the day when I only had one oven and I wanted to add steam, I used boiling water in a shallow pan. It worked somewhat, but I always wanted more control over the amount, duration and timing of the steam injection. 

When we remodelled our gourmet kitchen, we added a Gaggenau suite of appliances that included a separate steam/baking oven, in addition to the full size wall mounted convection oven. Now, I just push a button to add shots of steam, or add it via an automated custom program. This type of oven requires a direct plumbing line to supply the water and a drain line for the residual waste water. 

Whilst the steam oven is trick for sure, the good ‘ole pan of hot water worked quite well and was better than no supplemental steam injection. 


louiscohen's picture

I suspect that our GE electric convection oven has vents, because no steaming technique with a tray or pan ever worked very well with my high whole grain breads.  

Dutch ovens just work way better for me and are probably easier than getting the water to boil in the kettle just when the bread goes in.

Years ago, I bought a cast iron Emeril stove top smoker, which is a big heavy rectangular dutch oven with a removeable rack for the food above the wood chips.  I use this for batards and a regular round cast iron pot for boules.