In Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, we talked about a way to get steam into the oven to create a great, crispy, caramelized crust on lean (un-enriched) loaves: pouring water into a pre-heated METAL (not glass) broiler tray or other pan just before you close the oven door. To be extra-safe about your glass oven window, protect it from the water with a towel before you pour the water; remove the towel before closing the oven door. Some older non-tempered glass windows can crack if you get water on them when they’re hot. This metal-tray method works well in most ovens.
But some ovens are a bit temperamental about this. Really large ovens, or really well-vented ones, and in many cases, professional-quality ovens installed in homes, seem to let the steam escape and you end up with a dull, pale-colored crust that never gets crisp. We’ve got a video of some excellent alternatives…
Steam is escaping from those ovens, one way or another. If you’re having trouble getting a nice crust, try one of the other two methods in this video, neither of which require the water tray:
- a food-grade water sprayer
- A lidded vessel, either a cast-iron pot, or a cloche (both need to be pre-heated before adding the dough)
Our other posts on these methods:
Cloche baking: http://artisanbreadinfive.com/?p=566
And the least expensive closed vessel of all: Aluminum Roasting Pan for Crust: http://artisanbreadinfive.com/?p=510
More in The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, and our other books.