Steam Injection – Home Solution (Updated 28th Aug.)
Steam-injection is proabably the most sought-after feature in a bread oven. The ability to get a lot of water steam into the oven separates a professional oven from a home oven. The presence of water steam at the beginning of the baking process keeps the crust soft while it is undergoing its most dramatic changes. There are more things happening at the molecular level when water is sprayed onto the dough, that I cannot go into because of lack of knowledge, of course. So far, I have sprayed water into the oven using a bottle. I believe the days of doing that may have come to an end.
Why not use the dough’s moisture instead and trap it for a while, I was thinking on a slow Saturday afternoon. The idea of baking inside a closed bag, pot or pan is nothing new, so I have tweaked this approach a little and attempted an impromptu solution:
“That looks like a piece of tin foil”, you say. Why, yes, it does. Because it is a piece of tin foil.
Instructions on how to use the Steam Module Vers. 0.1 Beta: When your doughling is ready to be baked, cover it completely but loosely with the tin foil. Put everything into the oven, preferably onto a baking stone. Wait 1-2 minutes or more. Professional recipes will tell you when to open the steam vent, this is where you take the foil off. Behold the changes.
Heuristics: The foil shields the hot wind coming from the oven fan (if a fan oven is used) and traps the moisture that is coming from the heated dough for a while. Bread volume is increased, crust quality is potentially improved. Further test runs are called for.
Self-Steamed “40 Percent Caraway Rye” (without caraway) showing a nice crust.
Update. I’ve made a couple of rolls with this and another quick white loaf. Two things seem to be true: 1. Underproved breads do not seem to suffer from irregular crust bursts as much as before. This is because the crust stays supple longer. 2. Breads do not burn anymore. This (probably) is due to the additional water on / in the crust.
For a very soft crust, e.g. for sweet rolls, spray the dough with water, put the foil on top and leave it on for 5 minutes or longer.