While your products are busy baking in the oven, they need available moisture, or humidity in the air. Without it, heat isn’t transferred to the product so starch gelatinization and other reactions can’t take place, and moisture migration can’t happen properly. That’s why it’s crucial to control oven humidity.
Factors that influence it are:
- Oven Load: Humidity inside the oven increases as more products enter the baking chamber, and humidity will finally reach equilibrium. Simultaneously, heavier loading requires more heat to evaporate the water, resulting in a slight temperature drop in concert with the humidity increase.
- Temperature: Absolute humidity is lower on average at low temperature than at high temperature, because water evaporates more rapidly at higher temperatures.
- The saturation level and amount of steam:
Ok, how do I control oven humidity?
- Control the water level of the steam used for the oven.
- Do not overload the oven.
- Use fans and dampers: The humidity in existing ovens is usually controlled by fixed-speed extraction fans and extraction dampers. The humidity on new ovens is usually controlled by variable-speed extraction fans.
A humidity sensor can be used to measure oven humidity at product level and with the oven. It can also be used to document the relationship between oven moisture and finished product moisture. And with new technology, it’s easier than ever to get accurate readings.
How does humidity effect your final product?
- High oven humidity can lighten baked goods crust color.
- High humidity increases baked goods volume.
- High humidity raises the final moisture content of baked product, which influences product shelf life and breakage during the packaging process.
- Reduced evaporation can keep the surface of baked product moist, allowing it to stretch and preventing cracks.
- Some products require surface condensation to produce a concentrated sugar solution, which gives the surface a glaze like the top of a brownie.