Why Do You Need To Put Water Under The Baking Tray

Are you new to baking and getting to grips with some of the tricks and tips you see online? You may have seen the suggestion to put a tray of water in your oven while baking. If you’ve wondered why you should put water under the baking tray, I’ll explain what this easy hack does.

You will provide moist heat by putting water in a baking tray under your cake. This steam helps to stop fragile cakes from cracking in dry heat and can improve the cake’s texture. Adding water to a tray while baking bread will help it rise and form a light, airy crumb.

This technique is known as a water bath, and it’s an easy way to improve your loaves of bread and cakes. While some recipes don’t need a water bath, leaving that step out could ruin the texture of your baking.

A woman takes homemade pizza with sausages out of the oven, close-up. Traditional Italian recipe, lockdown

Should There Be Water In The Oven?

While you don’t need water in the oven, this old trick is a great way to avoid dry cakes or hard bread.

The heat from the oven will dry out your ingredients as they bake, and chefs have come up with many ways to counteract this. Sometimes they add wetter ingredients to the batters, such as cakes with additional buttermilk or yogurt.

However, adding or substituting ingredients can change your cakes’ texture, consistency, and taste. Adding a baking pan of water to the oven increases the moisture content of the hot air. The water evaporates and turns into steam, preventing the cake from coming out dry and crumbly.

You don’t want to use so much water that the moisture in the oven leaves your cake or bread soggy. Usually, you will only need to fill a pan with about an inch of water.

You should also wrap the bottom of your cake tin or springform pan with foil. The foil will stop any water from seeping in and making the bottom of your cake a soggy mush.

Once you’ve wrapped the base of your cake pan with foil, place it on a baking tray with a high edge, and pour a half-inch to an inch of water into the tray.

The Benefits Of Adding Water To The Baking Tray

Some cakes don’t need this additional water, and you can make them as usual. But if a recipe calls for a water bath, it’s best to follow the instructions to ensure your cake turns out soft and moist.

Particular cakes which need water baths to come out perfectly are sponges and cheesecakes. Use a water bath if you want your sponge cage to be smooth, with a light, moist interior. Baked cheesecakes are exceptionally delicate, and you’ll get the best result using a water bath to keep them from drying out.

When baking custards, the extra moisture in the heated air of the oven prevents them from turning rubbery.

Steam from a water bath is also crucial when making crusty bread like Baguettes or farmhouse bread. Once the oven spring has ended, leaving the bread light and airy, the bread forms a crisp crust.

When grilling meat or chicken, a tray of water in the oven can help catch fat drips and prevent the fat from catching fire.

Can You Put Water In The Oven To Prevent Bread From Getting Really Hard?


When baking bread, using steam helps the loaf rise in the oven and prevents it from becoming hard. If your bread gets hard too quickly in the oven, it cannot rise well and doesn’t get the ‘oven spring.’

If you prefer light bread with a soft, airy crumb, you’ll want to add water to a baking tray to provide the necessary steam. The steam works with the yeast’s carbon dioxide to puff your bread up, allowing those lovely light, crusty loaves of bread like ciabatta.

Once the initial oven spring is over, you want the air to dry out, as too much moisture in the oven will leave your bread soggy. Following the recipe guidelines will tell you how much water to use.

If no guidelines are given, you should spray your loaf with water before placing it in a preheated oven rather than using a water bath.

Why Put Water In Oven When Baking Cake

Putting water in a baking tray while baking a cake helps to keep the oven air temperature moist and constant. If you are making cakes that are likely to crack if they get too dry, like cheesecake, this can help them retain their shape and consistency.

Adding water to the oven also helps your cake to cook consistently throughout. The moisture helps avoid the dreaded dry, crumbly cake.

However, here are some things to watch out for when adding water to the baking process.

  • Don’t add too much water to the baking tray. An inch to a half-inch of water should be enough.
  • Adding too little water could mean your water evaporates before the baking process is done.
  • Ensure your oven is correctly preheated before adding the cake and the water bath, as the water can lower the temperature.
  • Use foil to securely wrap the base of your cake pan to avoid the bottom of the cake getting wet.

Is It Safe To Put Water In an Oven

Putting water in the oven is often essential when baking particular cakes, loaves of bread, and desserts. There are some things to remember when doing so.

  • You’ll want to put the water in a baking tray with high sides to prevent spillage.
  • Don’t put a glass of water in your oven, as the glass will likely shatter due to temperature changes.
  • When adding water to baking bread, remember that the oven will already be scorching, so be careful to avoid scalding yourself.
  • You can oversteam bread while using a water bath, as with cakes. You may prefer to mist your bread instead or add a bowl filled with wet dish towelsfor five minutes before adding your bread. Be careful when removing the hot pan of towels, so you don’t burn!


While adding a water bath is not always essential when baking cake or bread, it will help improve the texture of your baking. If you want to avoid custards turning rubbery when baked, or cheesecakes cracking in dry heat, you will need to use a water bath.

Adding water to your oven when baking bread can be trickier, as you don’t want constant steam as baking cakes. Some bakers prefer to mist their bread or use only a tiny amount of boiling water on a heated baking tray.

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