The Spring Oven is a terracotta ovenware pot that uses steam to get the best bread baking results. Today I put this to the test to see if it really does what it says on the tin.
This week I set out to do a test to prove the effectiveness of steaming in the Spring Oven to produce tasty bread out of a simple dough. I was baking from Paul Hollywood's simple white bread recipe, although if you're planning some baking I would recommend his bloomer recipe it's much better.
As I only have a first phase prototype of the Spring Oven it is not exactly a perfect test of the product but it gives a good idea. Also I have only had the base prototyped so I found a tagine lid to fit the base I have.
I decided to pitch The Spring Oven against a regular ceramic pot to see the how much of a difference it would actually make. Both of these items are made of a similar material and so it will be interesting to see how the dough reacts, from my past experience I have great faith in terracotta as opposed to other ceramics for its great heat retention qualities. I used to bake bread in plant pots at university and they would make exceptional bread.
This test was to prove the power of steam in baking and also prove the effectiveness of The Spring Oven as a baking product. Two bread bakes were done, One in the Spring Oven pot with 200ml of water in its channel for steam, the other was in the regular ceramic pot without steam.
To make it a fair test I tested a simple white bread bake as follows;
- 350g dough round in each pot
- Both baked in my oven at the same time
- 220 degrees
- 20 minutes covered, 10 minutes uncovered
Unfortunately due to the fact I'm a right rookie, and also that I used quite a low hydration dough, the bread burnt slightly, but I took it out just in time.
You can see the two loafs look quite different. Both of the breads reached roughly the same shape although the steamed loaf (in the terracotta Spring Oven) had a slightly bigger volume (around 2.5%). The Steamed loaf achieved more of a glazed browning on the crust while the unsteamed loaf has much more rustic look.
I knew straight away which loaf I would prefer but to be fair with my testing I asked my housemate Russell to do a blind taste test. I chose unburnt sections of each loaf and asked Russell what he thought
The Spring Oven's steamed loaf was the clear winner. Russell said this of the Spring Oven's steamed loaf;
- The crust has a better crisp
- less dry than the other loaf
- It has a more bready taste (whatever that means??!)
- There is a better flavour
From every test so far the Spring Oven is proving to deliver really high quality results. This is great news to hear when the final prototypes are just a few weeks away from completion. Steaming bread is clearly the way forward, and keen bakers should make sure they find ways to get as much steam in their ovens as possible, I hope that the full Spring Oven product will do just that. More news on the British made prototypes to come!
In the mean time follow the social media as I get ever closer to my Kickstarter launch in June.