There's no denying the irresistibility of freshly baked bread with its soft and pillowy interior. Achieving that perfect artisanal crust can be a challenge, but with a little ingenuity and two simple tools, you can take your bread-baking skills to the next level. All it takes is lava rocks and ice.
While ice is typically readily available, lava rocks are not as difficult to come by as you might think. Lava rocks, as the name suggests, are rocks formed from solidified lava, known for their exceptional heat retention properties. These unusual tools can actually be used to steam-bake bread.
To steam-bake bread using this technique, place your lava rocks in a shallow metal pan or a heatproof dish. The pan should be wide enough to cover the lower rack of your oven. Preheat your oven to the desired temperature for your bread recipe, usually between 350°F and 450°F. Once your oven reaches the desired temperature, carefully place the lava rock-filled pan on the lower rack. Allow it to heat for about 15-20 minutes. The lava rocks will absorb and radiate heat evenly throughout the oven, creating a stable environment for your bread to bake.
How To Steam Bake Using Lava Rocks And Ice
While your oven is preheating with the lava rocks, it's time to prepare your ice. You can use ice cubes or crushed ice. Right before you put your bread into the oven, toss a handful of ice onto the lava rocks. Be cautious, as this will create a burst of steam, which is exactly what we want to achieve that coveted crispy crust.
Place your bread on the middle or upper rack of the oven, and let it bake as usual. The steam generated from the ice hitting the hot lava rocks will envelop your bread, creating the ideal environment for that perfect crust to form. Keep a close eye on your bread's progress, as it may require a slightly shorter baking time due to the steam. Once your bread is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom, it's ready to be removed from the oven. Allow it to cool slightly before slicing into the loaf.
Lava rocks can be conveniently purchased at many places, including home improvement stores like Lowe's and Ace Hardware. You can also explore specialty stores online, where you'll find a variety of options to choose from, and they're even available on Amazon. So, next time you're in the mood for homemade bread, remember this ingenious technique and elevate your baking game with the power of steaming thanks to lava rocks and ice.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.