The story began when I was getting into baking bread at home from scratch. I taught myself how to bake sourdough, controlling the hydration of the dough, keeping the right ambient temperature so the dough could develop and ferment correctly; it is quite an art. However I frequently found that my efforts often failed at the last hurdle when I baked the bread in my home oven. Baking books would suggest using pots of water in the oven to try and create the humid heat that a professional bakers oven would have, although I could never create sufficient steam in the oven. As a result my rounds of bread would not reach their full potential.
I designed the Spring Oven as an ovenware pot that uses steam to get high quality baking results from a regular home oven. Within the pot is a channel of water that steams during the baking process. Because the pot is significantly smaller than an oven you can create a very humid environment with just a little steam, and produce high quality baking results. The pot was designed for bread but it’s healthy and efficient steaming process make it ideal for cakes, fish, vegetables and much more.
I first exhibited the design at New Designers graduate show in 2014, The Spring Oven got a strong reception and as a result I won a ‘One to Watch’ award from the highly respected Design Council. I was chosen amongst 70 designers in the UK as a graduate designer that would represent the future of British design.
Since graduating and building on my design experience I gradually started to re-design the Spring Oven to turn it into a commercially viable product. Since redesigning the product I have discussed with ceramics manufacturers how to maximise the efficiency and durability of the product. The unique features of the pot still remain the same, I have kept the channel of water inside the product and the shape is still reminiscent of the old ‘tagine-like’ design I exhibited in 2014. However now I believe it is much better, I will focus more directly on the new features in a future update.
Up until relatively recently I had not actually created a working prototype of the Spring Oven to prove that it works. I put a lot of faith in my theory but it was definitely time to produce a model and test it at home. I worked closely with a ceramicist at the University of Brighton and had the first working prototype turned out of terracotta. The base did not fully represent the final design but it had the rough shape and channel to start test baking. Thankfully the baking results have been very successful and the bread I have baked has had a significantly improved rise simply because of the high humidity of baking with steam.
Now the risk of this project has to go up a level, and I am currently in the process of getting the first ever, full product prototype of the final design. Slip casting terracotta can work very well or it can fail miserably, as I have been informed from all the ceramics experts ‘anything can happen in the kiln’. So for me its just a time to bite the bullet and go for it.