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OliverB

Steam injection oven – Keller style – safe?

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Your loaves are beautiful. You've compared 0% to 5% of the steam Bouchon Bakery recommends. If I were baking your loaves, I wouldn't feel that I was missing something, either. However, when so many people advocate substantial steam, I cannot reject their ideas out of hand without understanding them, and that requires a fair test. In this case, 100% of the steam Bouchon Bakery recommends, which at home simply isn't possible using a bare oven and a plant spritzer. It requires special equipment, such as rocks and chains.

What hydration? What oven temperature, for how long? I do find that freshly ground whole grains act differently from premilled whole grains. My flour would go rancid, sold in a store.

Your loavels are beautiful, but at 5% of their recommended steam you haven't given their ideas a fair test. Who knows what you'd get, with your skills and their methods?


Edited by Syzygies (log)

Per la strada incontro un passero che disse "Fratello cane, perche sei cosi triste?"

Ripose il cane: "Ho fame e non ho nulla da mangiare."

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The ones baked with steam are the top four. I only bake sourdough and these are 5 Seed with Spelt so you're not talking about a light dough.

Below are Multigrain - 50% Strong White Bread Flour/50% Wholemeal + a soaker of millet, jumbo oats, bulgar & polenta - so, again, not a light dough. Baked without any steam. So, from the photos can you tell me why I would want to use steam? You'll find dozens of bread photos on the blog all baked without steam. Am I going wrong somewhere?

According to Calvel, "large round dense, compact loaves" suffer less from the absence of steam than would "longer and lighter loaves". Probably where you went wrong is you just chose a poor example to illustrate the benefit of steam.

Nice loaves, though!

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Professor Calvel was writing for commercial bakers using deck ovens.

I don't think I went wrong anywhere. If you are talking about the likes of baguettes .... The steamless baguette:

baguette crumb 2.jpg


Mick Hartley

The PArtisan Baker

bethesdabakers

"I can give you more pep than that store bought yeast" - Evolution Mama (don't you make a monkey out of me)

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I don't think I went wrong anywhere.

Just curious if you're going to tell us how much steam you used. 15 grams is not the same as 350 grams.


Per la strada incontro un passero che disse "Fratello cane, perche sei cosi triste?"

Ripose il cane: "Ho fame e non ho nulla da mangiare."

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Professor Calvel was writing for commercial bakers using deck ovens.

I don't think I went wrong anywhere. If you are talking about the likes of baguettes .... The steamless baguette:

I think the crust could be thinner and not as dull had steam been used.

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Syzygies - Oh no, this is your game, I'm not playing. You want to vapourise 350g in your oven carry on, I'm very relaxed about the standard of my bread although, having put up my eveidence, JoNorvelleWalker thinks I could do better.

I think that chains, rocks and stacked skillets are just a new distraction in a line of gimicks that confuse learning bakers. Baking good bread is a comparatively simple affair if people are able to pick their way through a minefield of misinformation.

By the way, I'm not saying steam doesn't have a part to play in baking. I'm just saying that that the effects in domestic ovens is negligble (apart from lowering the temperature).

Mick


Mick Hartley

The PArtisan Baker

bethesdabakers

"I can give you more pep than that store bought yeast" - Evolution Mama (don't you make a monkey out of me)

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Here's an earlier version of the Bouchon Bakery "rocks and chains" protocol: Michael Suas, in 2008:

The breadmakers' guru (San Francisco Chronicle)

To create steam, Suas recommends preheating a cast-iron Dutch oven filled with nuts and bolts. This creates mass at the bottom of the oven, which will result in heat retention. Have some crushed ice ready (it melts more slowly than ice water). When you transfer the bread to the oven, cover the nuts and bolts in the Dutch oven with the ice, and immediately shut the door to trap the steam (see recipe, Page F9).


Suas is the author of a highly regarded professional baking book,

Advanced Bread and Pastry

which assumes use of a professional deck oven with a steam system. I've found bits and pieces of the book invaluable, for instance for sorting out why "green" (freshly ground, not aged) flour misbehaves and what to do to compensate.


Per la strada incontro un passero che disse "Fratello cane, perche sei cosi triste?"

Ripose il cane: "Ho fame e non ho nulla da mangiare."

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I now have a 30 lb baking steel under my cast iron skillet, on my oven floor (a reasonable place to store it, when not making pizza):

The Big! Baking Steel
Modernist Cuisine Baking Steel (eGullet)

This more than triples the thermal mass available for producing steam. The difference is striking, with a significant potential for steam burns if one isn't careful. The sound of violently boiling water, that used to last part of a minute, simply stops after a few seconds. That's a scary silence, respect it.

As noted on that thread, one could buy steel plate and clean it up oneself.


Per la strada incontro un passero che disse "Fratello cane, perche sei cosi triste?"

Ripose il cane: "Ho fame e non ho nulla da mangiare."

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Terrific!!

Can't wait to see the comparative bread photos.

Mick

Ha! You're killing me...

I love this thread so far. I'm a wee-little-baker - I only do braided challa on special occasions, but I'm enjoying this conversation.


PastaMeshugana

"The roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd."

"What's hunger got to do with anything?" - My Father

My eG Food Blog (2011)

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Suas is the author of a highly regarded professional baking book,

Advanced Bread and Pastry

which assumes use of a professional deck oven with a steam system. I've found bits and pieces of the book invaluable, for instance for sorting out why "green" (freshly ground, not aged) flour misbehaves and what to do to compensate.

I've read Advanced Bread and Pastry, I was not thrilled with it. For one thing most of the text is on pastry, not bread. (Not that there is anything inherently wrong with pastry.) On the subject of bread Suas credits Calvel, but it seems like chunks of The Taste of Bread were paraphrased without quotation.

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I've read Advanced Bread and Pastry, I was not thrilled with it.

Thanks. I like Hamelman so far, for that level of technical detail missing in books aimed at the home cook. I'll save my money for Calvel.

loaf.jpg

crumb.jpg

Returning to California, I bought some chain to go in the skillet in my yard oven:

Everbilt #2/0 x 30 ft. Straight Link Chain in Stainless Steel

Lodge Logic L14SK3 Pre-Seasoned Cast-Iron Skillet, 15-inch

Komodo Kamado Refractory Grill/Smoker/Oven

The skillet is 11.2 lbs and each roll of chain is 8.6 lbs; several would fit. With one roll, I estimate one can produce 320g of steam from hot water, and 260g of steam from ice. I went with more ice than that, easier to set up the steam before adding the bread, and it all disappeared in the first few minutes.

To revisit the Safe? angle opening this thread, I am afraid of the toxins that could be produced from the coatings (zinc or galvanized) on any kind of chain other than stainless steel. If anyone knows for sure (isn't speculating) it would be good to know a less expensive substitute. I fear that Bouchon Bakery simply overlooked this issue, not imagining that it could be a problem. Worrying about different metals is a standard topic in the barbecue community.

In any case I'm struggling to work with "green" flour, that we grind fresh for the flavor and nutrition. ("Green" flour, not properly aged, is notorious for having uncooperative glutens, leading to flying saucers.) The bread shown is 40% red winter wheat, 10% rye (both freshly ground, 82% or so extraction), 50% white flour. It is 70% hydration, 15% leaven, 2% salt, 1/4 tsp yeast, 40ppm ascorbic acid. Three hours bulk, three hours proof. This loaf was lighter with better oven spring and a thinner crust than I've been getting in an indoor oven. While I love the drama of more rugged loaves, so far good oven spring looks like a water balloon for me. Both adults and kids devour the loaves, at the end of the day it's food.

So some books state that steam is to moisten the crust. People who understand the need for techniques frequently get the reason wrong. Here, one could imagine other ways to moisten the crust, if this was all that's going on. I closed down my yard oven during the steam phase, and it came rushing out the bottom vent, with the potential for much more severe burns than hot air alone would produce. Potential, I reacted fast, but this reminded me how the steam felt on my face last week. The Komodo had clearly filled with steam. This didn't put the fire out.

Steam transfers heat much more effectively than hot air. This is why steaming is a fundamentally different technique than baking. It would appear that the primary purpose of steam in a commercial bread oven is to transfer enough heat for good oven spring before the crust sets. Wetting the crust is secondary; if that were all, one would simply wet the crust some other way.


Per la strada incontro un passero che disse "Fratello cane, perche sei cosi triste?"

Ripose il cane: "Ho fame e non ho nulla da mangiare."

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It's been many years since I've had thermodynamics, but here is my take on what goes on with steam:

The thermal conductivity of steam is about the same as that of air.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_thermal_conductivities

Why steam scalds people and cooks food is primarily due to the enthalpy of condensation of water, the heat released when there is a phase change from steam to liquid water. Bread dough is rather moist, and the surface of the bread can't increase above the boiling point of the solution, as long as the dough surface stays moist.

My guess is that initial steam heats the dough surface faster than a dry oven, but then helps keep the surface temperature of the dough from rising further, as it would in a dry oven. Crust formation is delayed. Thus with steam the dough has a longer period of time during which it is both hot and plastic, increasing oven spring.

This is entirely theory on my part, and is not stated as truth.

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bake.jpg
loaf.jpg

I bake in my BGE, and I find that the airflow through the top vent effectively negates any impact of the steam. In plain English, any steam generated quickly goes up the top vent & doesn't hang around long enough to keep the crust flexible in the initial baking stages (to allow for max oven spring).

Why steam scalds people and cooks food is primarily due to the enthalpy of condensation of water, the heat released when there is a phase change from steam to liquid water. Bread dough is rather moist, and the surface of the bread can't increase above the boiling point of the solution, as long as the dough surface stays moist.

I'm continuing to have better luck with steam in my yard oven than I ever did indoors. After adding ice and putting in the loaf to bake, I totally shut down the air intake vent and the top vent for a few minutes. The fire resumes just fine when I open the airflow back up. I believe that my relative success is because the Komodo Kamado is much tighter than my indoor oven, and bakes to a greater extent using radiant heat. I've moved to the main rack in an effort to actually reduce the radiant heat effect, and I'm baking at an air temperature of 400 F, getting results similar to an indoor oven at 460 F.

So I agree with the above guess at the physics. It takes a great amount of energy to turn water to steam, and the steam releases a great deal of energy as it turns back to water.

The other calculation I've wondered about: Water expands by about 1600x as it turns to steam. I estimate that my indoor ovens are each around 140 liters. This is also a reasonable guess for the volume of my Komodo Kamado. Bouchon Bakery's recommendation to use 350 grams of water will yield 560 liters of steam, or enough to fill either oven four times. So of course we feel steam exiting these ovens. There is steam left to do the job. On the oother hand, less than 90 grams of water won't fill the oven once with steam, at which point one would expect to see less of a benefit from the steam.


Per la strada incontro un passero che disse "Fratello cane, perche sei cosi triste?"

Ripose il cane: "Ho fame e non ho nulla da mangiare."

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On 5/5/2013 at 12:34 PM, Syzygies said:

To revisit the Safe? angle opening this thread, I am afraid of the toxins that could be produced from the coatings (zinc or galvanized) on any kind of chain other than stainless steel. If anyone knows for sure (isn't speculating) it would be good to know a less expensive substitute.

In BBQ you are dealing with higher temperatures (depending on placement) than you are talking about in baking and potentially direct food contact.  So in an oven the chain etc is not going to get over what the oven temp is and that is well below the melting point of any coatings.  Old "galvanised" stuff had lead in it and that would not be good, Zinc coated should not be a problem since zinc is food safe.  Fumes of vaporizing zinc are dangerous so it can be dangerous to weld zinc coated steel without a lot of ventilation but your oven is not getting anywhere near the 1600f.  You can also find un coated chain and that would also be fine.

 

To add a bit to the steam discussion...  It's not the conductivity of steam that is the issue with burns it's the specific heat.  Steam has a LOT more energy than dry air and it can transfer it to anything it touches.  With bread and crusts it does two things.  First it transfers heat to the loaf faster than dry air would because it has more specific head And the bread steaming on it's own would cool the surface much like sweating cools you.  And just as high humidity make sweat less effective (heat index VS temperature) high humidity keeps the crust from cooling down.  The humidity also keeps a hard crust from forming and tus lets the bread expand.

 

You can bake great bread with out steam, people do it all the time.  Steam lets you create a thinner hard crunch crust and generally helps you get the bigger bubbles in the crumb because it keeps a hard crust from forming too soon in the baking.  Without steam crusts tend to be "tougher" VS thinner and crunchier.  Exactly how much of a difference depends a lot on the dough and the baking conditions.  And weather steam makes your bread "better" has a lot to do with your tastes and what you are trying to achieve.

 

For me most of the time I want steam because it makes my bread closer to what I am aiming for.  There is no objective "better" if the bread is well made, only a subjective one.  With a fairly wet dough and a hot oven I got reasonably close to what I was aiming for but using the cast iron combo pan got me a lot closer.  I never got steam in the oven to work but I realize I was probably using way too little a pan.  Keller is talking ten pounds of rock and 10 feet of heavy chain, I was using maybe three pounds of rock.  So I will give his method a shot.  BTW I used lava rocks.  They don't explode and they have a LOT of surface area.  Cast iron as a general rule does not like to be temperature shocked, though it sounds like it hasn't been a problem.  The steam tray pans they talk about in the book are stainless and run about $13 at a restaurant supply.

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Steam.jpeg.ece3adeea2f2f802fea169e5b98330b1.jpeg

 

I use steam both in my indoor oven, and outdoors in a Komodo Kamado ceramic barbecue cooker. I got tired of cleaning yard schmutz out of my stainless steel chains, so I ordered a second aluminum disk off eBay. My steam generator now consists of one cake pan and two disks, all aluminum:

 

Fat Daddio's PRD-163 Round Cake Pan, 16 x 3 Inch (Amazon)

1 Aluminum Disc, 1 1/4" thick x 14 3/4" dia., Mic-6 Cast Tooling Plate, Disk (eBay)

 

To my surprise when I redid my calculations, aluminum has a significantly higher specific heat capacity than steel: Water, 4181. Aluminum, 897. Ratio: 21.5% Moreover, these disks are heavy. The cake pan and two disks combine to 44.9 pounds. So, in a ceramic cooker or oven heated to 450 F, this steam source can boil off 803 grams of ice, or 964 grams of warm (40 C) water. I rarely use more than half that, enough steam to replace the air in a KK or oven several times over. Perhaps I should have just tossed the steel chain, but now I have two aluminum disks. Nice.

 

I posted this in a Komodo Kamado forum thread, where others have followed my lead, finding that one disk is plenty. (I'm best known there for devising a cast iron Dutch Oven "smoke pot" for a more subtle smoke flavor without the nasties. This got propagated to other BBQ sites.)

 

KK as Steam Oven for Bread

 

I was thrilled to get rid of the chains. They're messy and awkward.


Edited by Syzygies (log)

Per la strada incontro un passero che disse "Fratello cane, perche sei cosi triste?"

Ripose il cane: "Ho fame e non ho nulla da mangiare."

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4 minutes ago, Syzygies said:

Steam.jpeg.ece3adeea2f2f802fea169e5b98330b1.jpeg

 

I use steam both in my indoor oven, and outdoors in a Komodo Kamado ceramic barbecue cooker. I got tired of cleaning yard schmutz out of my stainless steel chains, so I ordered a second aluminum disk off eBay. My steam generator now consists of one cake pan and two disks, all aluminum:

 

Fat Daddio's PRD-163 Round Cake Pan, 16 x 3 Inch (Amazon)

1 Aluminum Disc, 1 1/4" thick x 14 3/4" dia., Mic-6 Cast Tooling Plate, Disk (eBay)

 

To my surprise when I redid my calculations, aluminum has a significantly higher specific heat capacity than steel: Water, 4181. Aluminum, 897. Ratio: 21.5% Moreover, these disks are heavy. The cake pan and two disks combine to 44.9 pounds. So, in a ceramic cooker or oven heated to 450 F, this steam source can boil off 803 grams of ice, or 964 grams of warm (40 C) water. I rarely use more than half that, enough steam to replace the air in a KK or oven several times over. Perhaps I should have just tossed the steel chain, but now I have two aluminum disks. Nice.

 

I posted this in a Komodo Kamado forum thread, where others have followed my lead, finding that one disk is plenty. (I'm best known there for devising a cast iron Dutch Oven "smoke pot" for a more subtle smoke flavor without the nasties. This got propagated to other BBQ sites.)

 

KK as Steam Oven for Bread

 

I was thrilled to get rid of the chains. They're messy and awkward.

 

 

Can you explain how you use this, please?

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6 hours ago, gfweb said:

 

Can you explain how you use this, please?

 

I preheat my oven to 450 F for over an hour, with a baking stone on a rack, and this aluminum thermal mass on the floor. I have at the ready steam-proof mitts (silicone) and a container holding 350g to 400g of water. Just after putting in the dough, I put on the mitts and pour the water over the aluminum thermal mass, then quickly close the oven door. There is a serious risk of steam burns here. One won't get burned if one pours the water quickly from one side, wearing mitts, and closes the oven quickly. One will get burned if one forgets the mitts.

 

The steam lasts a few minutes.

 

For the Komodo Kamado, I use slabs of ice. It hardly matters; melting ice and bringing water to a boil take similar amounts of energy, dwarfed by the energy it takes to turn water into steam.

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Per la strada incontro un passero che disse "Fratello cane, perche sei cosi triste?"

Ripose il cane: "Ho fame e non ho nulla da mangiare."

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maybe I can help here, l try to keep it simple and not overthink things..

 

The object is to wet the bread right?

So wet the bread then put it in the oven.

I did this for yrs in a gas convection , baguettes come out crackling.

Cut the bread and spray or brush water on them.

I was throwing water in but the bulbs exploded and occasionally the pilots would snuff out.

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On ‎1‎/‎7‎/‎2020 at 10:00 AM, retired baker said:

maybe I can help here, l try to keep it simple and not overthink things..

 

The object is to wet the bread right?

So wet the bread then put it in the oven.

I did this for yrs in a gas convection , baguettes come out crackling.

Cut the bread and spray or brush water on them.

I was throwing water in but the bulbs exploded and occasionally the pilots would snuff out.

 

As I wrote previously in the thread I disagree the object is to wet the bread.  I can't prove it but I believe the purpose of steam is to transfer energy to the still plastic dough.  Undeniably steam does transfer energy to the dough.   When you were baking professionally did you use a steam injection oven?

 

 

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Yes, the point of the steam is not to make the bread wet. It's to create a humid environment in the oven that slows the formation of the crust, so the bread can rise more before being constrained. That's it. You want high humidity for maximum oven spring, then low humidity to dry out the surface and promote browning.

 

I don't think there's a more effective method that Jim Lahey's Dutch oven idea (if you don't have a real steam injection oven).

 

All these schemes of splashing water into the bottom of a regular oven are pretty limited. Ovens have vents, and that humidity never builds very high and it can't stick around long. But I think it's better than nothing.

 

To answer the ancient original post, you can indeed break your oven window. It's easy. I've done it! Used to use a bike water bottle to squirt water into a roasting pan or skillet in the oven bottom. It just took one splash to break the glass. 

 

I use a Dutch oven now. The downside is that it's a pain in the ass to handle the dough, especially if it's a really wet dough. And it's much harder to do loaves back-to-back. 


Notes from the underbelly

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