I’ve been using a simple broiler-pan steam trick for years to get a nice crust on my homemade bread. This trick, though, takes it to a whole new, awesome level!
Why steam bread instead of just tossing it in the oven and coming back at the end of the bake time? Steaming achieves two goals. First, it slows down the formation of the bread crust because the dough’s surface stays damp. This allows the loaf to fully rise and expand in response to the heat of the oven.
Second, after the expansion phase, the steam helps turn the surface sugars in the dough into a beautiful caramelized crunchy crust. This gives your bread that amazing, right-from-the-French-bakery look and feel.
While you can get by with just adding a cup of water to the broiler pan at the start of the baking cycle, check out the video below for an alternative. Joshua Weissman’s hybrid steam setup combines cheap, available items (like a steel prep pan and cotton towels) to create a veritable bread sauna.
Just look at how amazing the crust turns out! You’ll be tempted to upgrade from just dumping some water in the pan to get this super-deep, rich crust.