Sunday, 4 October 2009


This is loaf of mostly white flour, with a bit of spelt and rye, and caraway, linseed and pumpkin seeds to add interest.

People always say that you should put a bowl of water in your oven when baking bread to maximise "oven spring". The theory is that the steam keeps the crust soft as long as possible while the dough is expanding due to the sudden heat, so you get the maximum volume of loaf without it splitting round the sides.

I've tried this before and it didn't seem to make much difference. Moreover, the bowl of water always got in the way when I was trying to put the dough in the oven.

But the other day I was reading about traditional pizza ovens (as you do) and found that traditional Italian ovens apparently have small holes in them. People would stuff wet rags into the holes to create steam.

It sounded mental enough to work, so I tried it. I got an old bit of cloth, soaked it and laid it in the oven just underneath the baking tray with the dough on it. And it worked – the slashes opened up nicely.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a nice technique! I've been putting a baking tray at the bottom of the oven with water in it. I found it was better than nothing, but still never seem to get the slashes opening right up like you see in the books :D