Most bread books direct you to add steam to your oven, usually by putting a pan, preferably something solid, in the oven when you begin to pre-heat, then add water (varying from boiling to ice cubes) at the same time as you put your dough in. But, I have Bread Matters by Andrew Whitley who absolutely rubbishes this idea. He says that domestic ovens will simply expel any steam you might be able to generate immediately. I've gone along with him, but right now I'm working my way through Peter Rinehart's Artisan Breads which suggests the boiling water approach, so today tried to add steam. I must say it seemed a waste of time - when I poured the boiling water into the pan, there was an initial burst of steam which had mostly wafted out before I even got the door shut. Carefully inspected proceedings through the window in the door but there was no steam to be seen. So I doubt that there was much going on here.
What have others tried? have you been successful? Do you think it actually makes any difference? (I hate to be questioning something which seems to be gospel truth, but I do wonder)