From: What makes a bread either close or open crumbed/textured?

Oven spring

Yeasts continue producing CO2 until they die at 60C/140F. Also, gasses expand with heat, so it will also help holes to grow a bit (if I remember well, up to 30%). But that grown will stop when dough gets baked and strengthens, and when crust begins to form. To retard this 2 tricks are used:

Use steam in the oven the fist 1/3 or 1/4 of baking time.

Steam will keep the "outer skin" of the bread humid, so it will prevent it from getting dry and forming the crust.

How to use steam in the oven for getting an oven spring?

Well, by steam the only thing I understand is the "vapors". How do you get them in oven? By boiling uncovered water in the oven? How much steam is needed? What is the exact procedure to get the required steam?


3 Answers 3


The most common method of getting steam into the oven during the first five minutes of baking when it is critical for crust formation, at least for a home style oven is:

  • Place a pan at the bottom of your oven, and pre-heat as well it while pre-heating your oven. An empty metal loaf pan or even a cast iron skillet would be suitable. The pan should be metal (ceramic or glass may not fare well with this kind of treatment).
  • Bring some water to a boil separately, a couple of cups worth.
  • When you put the loaf into the oven, pour the hot water into the pre-heated pan, which will result in immediate steam production (this is why the pan was preheated, to help it immediately transfer energy to the water, and produce a burst of steam).

In previous questions, you have indicated that you have a toaster oven, not a full sized home oven, at least as we would think of it in the US. There may not be enough room for this method in such as small oven.

Another method, which may be more suitable to your oven, although possibly less effective:

  • Obtain a spray mist bottle, such as the kind used for misting plants. Fill it with clean water.
  • Preheat your oven thoroughly.
  • Immediately before putting the loaf in the oven, mist the oven floor and walls. This will cause a small burst of steam.

The downside of this method is that it only produces a little steam, and it also cools your oven slightly.

  • thanks for the helpful answer. My oven has the space for placing a pan at the bottom. It has actually 3 shelves to be placed at bottom, center, and top. Apr 1, 2013 at 8:28
  • Question: Does the water vessels have to be placed there throughout the baking time, or we have to take them out after a center period? Apr 1, 2013 at 8:30
  • 1
    You can just leave it there... that is part of the reason to use metal, so that it is able to tolerate being boiled dry in the hot oven. You want to minimize opening your oven and losing heat. This is especially true in a small oven.
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Apr 1, 2013 at 8:31
  • Should my intention be to place enough water such that it lasts the full baking duration? Apr 1, 2013 at 9:04
  • No, you only need the steam affect for the first 5 minutes or so.
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Apr 1, 2013 at 9:07

While the water / pan method is spot on, and I use this myself when baking bread, there is also another alternative:

Indirectly creating steam directly around the bread you are baking through using a cast iron or enameled cast iron pot with a lid. Heat the pot and the lid together with the rest of the oven. When oven reaches the correct temperature, and your loaf is ready, take the pot out of the oven, and remove the lid. Sprinkle flour/cornmeal/etc, insert your loaf, slash as you normally would, sprinkle more flour, and cover the pot. Insert it in the oven and bake as normal (I do 45 minutes @ 250 C).

So, if you're not able to create steam with the tried and tested method of a pan at the bottom of the oven, this is also a good method. Results in delicious bread, even crumb and a great crust every time.

Granted, this way you are limited to the size of your pot, and shape.

With any and all free-form or baguette loaves, the pan of water is the much better method.

  • It doesn't have to be cast iron. Any thing that traps steam will work. And it doesn't have to be preheated (but you should leave the lid on for most of the cooking time).
    – user50726
    Apr 27, 2019 at 17:16

Use the steam wand from an espresso machine. Aim the nozzle into the oven vent under the heating element under the right-rear burner. Remove the element prior to injecting the steam. One minute is enough.

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