Steam in Your Brick Oven

Fire your oven for at least one hour, bringing the dome and floor temperature to roughly 800ºF, and to where the entire dome has gone clear. Then after the ash has been raked out, leave the oven to moderate for an hour or so, about the time you take your slow rise doughs out of the refrigerator. Depending on the type of bread you are baking, let the oven temperature fall to between 450ºF-550ºF. Then, brush and mop the hearth with a damp, not wet, towel.

At this point, you can either put an old sheet pan loaded with damp rags into the oven, or give it a long spray with a basic garden sprayer. If your oven is hot, and you want a lot of steam, try doing both. When the breads go in, there should be visible steam in the chamber. Once the bread is loaded, give the oven another long spray, pointing the nozzle upwards, not at the breads. Again, there should be visible steam in the chamber.

Remember, without steam, the crust will not develop properly and caramel ization will be underdeveloped.

To retain the steam, it's important that the door seals the oven opening. If your door does not want to maintain a tight seal, try using a brick to keep it pushed tightly against the opening.

Simple, but effective.