My technique for baking bread with steam

One of the first pieces of advice that I was given when I started proudly posting my absurdly exploded breads was that “you need steam”, and I had not a clue of how to make it happen.

You might have also heard about “adding steam” if you’ve been trying to take your home baking to the next level, to obtain a more “professional” finish: deeper colour, sophisticated blisters, and a shiny appearance that screams: EAT ME! I AM TASTY!

But if you’re like me, you’ll be also wondering: WHY? How does that work? 馃え馃

I was frustrated for the longest time because I did not understand how any of this worked, and the methods proposed did not seem to have any effect at all. It took a while for things to “click” in my brain and make sense. This is my attempt to share what I’ve learned!

In this post, I’ll explain…

  • how steam helps to make better breads
  • how to create steam in a domestic oven
  • why you should feel very free to entirely ignore this for now
  • another method to create steam, with a casserole
  • and how the bakers of old achieved this too, but without resorting to graphs and talk of SCIENCE

Hopefully you’ll get something useful out of this!

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An explosion, way before Guy Fawkes night

Yesterday night, we were finishing dinner and then I started noticing something. Some sort of noise. I asked Devvers: “did you hear that?” No, nothing.

Of course I started suspecting it must be mice, because it’s London and because it’s getting cold, so it’s obvious it would be mice.

I entered the kitchen, already indignant with the mice for daring to be in the kitchen, making weird noises when we were around and the lights were on! The nerve of them!

But I didn’t see any mice. It was all clear.

And yet I kept hearing that weird, indeterminate sound. What was going on?

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Two coffee discoveries (and a plea for you to drink good coffee)

Clerkenwell Road, from the top deck of the 55
Clerkenwell Road, from the top deck of the 55
Clerkenwell Road, from the top deck of the 55

One: the not-so-secret coffee conglomerate

I was on the bus to work the other morning, enjoying the unparalleled top deck views, when I noticed something intriguing on a building. It was a sign that read “Coffeesmiths collective”, but the place did not look like a coffee shop, neither like a coffee craftworkshop or school. It looked more like… a co-working space! Very intriguing!

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