6 Ways to Incorporate Steam Into Bread Baking

6 Ways to Incorporate Steam Into Bread Baking

Can’t you hear it? You just pulled a fresh loaf out of the oven and the bread quietly sings to you with its crackling harmony. When you meet it with your mercer bread knife- you cut through the golden exterior and reveal the soft and airy inside of your loaf.

Woah- be right back- I need some bread now!

Despite what your second grade self thought, many people think the crust of bread is the best part! We asked our Instagram followers what they liked better, crust or crumb, and 54% said the crust!

So how do you achieve that crispy artisan crust of your dreams? One word- Steam.

I want to talk today about steam and bread baking. Specifically why it's important and how to create it at home without professional kitchen equipment.

What does steam do?

When you put your bread dough into the oven- the steam adds moisture to the surface of your bread dough. This moisture helps prevent your dough from drying out instantly when it meets the high temperatures in your oven.

Without steam- your crust will set really quickly. If you're able to keep moisture on the surface of your dough with steam, your bread will have a chance to fully stretch, expand, and rise before the crust sets. This dramatically improves the crumb (inside of bread) and texture of your bread.

And let’s chat color real quick! Steam encourages the caramelization and the maillard reaction… fancy words for that stunning golden brown crust. Not only is it beautiful to look at, it also enhances your bread's flavor.

So how do you incorporate steam into your bread baking process?

Steam Injection: Professional bakeries most likely have steam injection ovens. These ovens can be pretty spendy, but they give you precise control of the amount and timing of steam that's released into the oven.

Use a Dutch Oven: If you haven't yet, try making bread in a Dutch oven. When you put your bread dough in a preheated Dutch oven, it is a perfect little baking chamber. The moisture from your bread dough turns to steam, the steam gets trapped inside the Dutch oven creating a humid environment for baking your bread.

Water Tray: Put a metal pan 1/3 full of water on the bottom rack of your oven right before baking. This water evaporates during the baking process.

Spraying: Simply spray the loaf with water before putting it into the oven. Then put your bread into the oven and spray the oven floor and wall. After the bread has been baking for about 5 minutes, spray the oven again. Be very careful not to get any water drops on the oven door/glass. You may consider shielding it with a cookie sheet. Oh, and don't burn yourself.

Covering the Dough: This is very similar to the Dutch oven, but in case you do not have a Dutch oven, you can dome it with foil or a metal bowl during the first part of the baking process to trap the steam.

Cast Iron Pan: Preheat a cast iron pan on the bottom rack of your oven. Put water or ice cubes into the preheated pan immediately after putting your loaf in the oven to bake. Simple and effective!

So long story short- steam is an important part of creating the perfect loaf. Try experimenting with different ways of incorporating steam into your bread baking to get the taste and texture of your dreams!

All for now,

Leave a comment