Baking without steam directly in a conventional home oven, your dough will not rise to its maximum potential. The exterior will cook too fast, and the interior will be free of air bubbles formed by expanding the wild yeast. I will show you how to steam bread in your home oven and make your loaves rising as in a professional steam-injected oven.
There are various ways to create steam for baking bread. For a beginner is better to start baking sourdough bread in a Dutch oven which is also my favorite method. Steaming bread in the home oven can be an option when you want to bake multiple loaves or your Dutch oven is to small for the amount of dough you want to bake. For doing this, you will need to add new tools in your baking gear.
Tools For Steaming Bread in Home Oven
Having the right tools in your home baking-arsenal will make this process easier and you will get enough steam in the oven to make those loaves rising.
Firebricks or Baking Stones
Firebricks thickness will vary, but usually, they are thicker than pizza baking stones and will generate more heat. Even if during the baking process your bread will rise normally using both of them, using thin baking stone will result in a soft bread base. Look for approximately 2m thick firebricks at your local building supplier.
Rectangular Baking Pan
Steam is water. And to generate steam is the home oven you will need to place a rectangular baking pan or a roasting tin on the bottom shelf under the firebricks. You can add a few clean towels in the center of the pan for generating more steam. Ten minutes before baking you have to boil some water and pour it over towels in the pan.
It can be a difficult task to move the dough intact onto the brisk. For this, you can get it out of the basket on a parchment paper. Doing this, the oven door will stay less open preventing the loss of the heat. You can remove the paper after 20 minutes, to make a direct contact of the bread with the bricks.
Optional Lava Rocks
If you want to generate more steam, a small cast iron pan filled with lava rocks will generate lots more steam when cold water comes into contact with their hot surface. You can use any other heat retentive material like a metal chain. You can spray cold water over the lava rocks with a hand spritzer just before closing the oven door. It instantly turns to steam.
With all these tools in place and a clear understanding of what they stand for, we can start baking.
Baking Steam Method
At first, it may seem like a difficult process, but once you have all the tools and practice a few times, you will become familiar with the key points. One is to not leave the oven door open for a long period of time because heat will escape.
- Fix the firebricks or your baking stones on the second-lowest shelf of your oven
- Preheat the oven on its highest temperature for about one hour
- 10 minutes before loading your dough, boil water, pour over the towels in your rectangular baking pan, fully saturate them, and place it in the bottom shelf under the firebricks.
- Remove the dough from the fridge and sprinkle a thin layer of flour over the dough base
- Put the parchment paper on a bread peel. If necessary this parchment paper sheets will help you to adjust the space between the loaves
- Flip the dough from the proofing basket onto a lightly floured parchment paper
- Score the dough with your favorite pattern
- Slide the dough onto the bricks
- Pour 1 cup water into your cast iron pan with lava rocks or spray with hand spritzer
- Bake for 20 minutes at 240 C then open the door to release the steam and for a more crusty bottom, you can remove the parchment paper
- Optional, remove the cast iron pans to stop steaming
- Continue baking for more 20-25 minutes at 230 C until done and has a dark-golden crust.
After you learn how to steam bread in your home oven, is easier to bake more loaves together and use your Dutch oven only for a quick single loaf.