The Fresh Loaf

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Counter top ovens

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gmabaking's picture
gmabaking

Counter top ovens

Have noticed several TFLovians are using countertop ovens this summer. After a late, cold, and wet Spring, Summer has settled in with 95-100 degree days. Still have lovely cool nights so won't complain too much. Absent doing the 2AM baking (which I really do love to do once in a while) I've been considering the countertop. My oven just cannot/willnot take to steam baking. About two weeks ago I tried again and the next day the electronics were off kilter enough that it locked itself up three times. That is how the decline started twice before, so as much as I long for that blistered crust I have to accept that until I replace this less than five years old stove, steam just can't happen.

After all that explaining, I really do have a request for help. I would love to have suggestions about the various types of countertop ovens available that can be used with steam. I did check the search and found helpful information about differences in size and models but my real reason for buying one would be steam, steam and more blistery crust steam.

Thank you for any ideas

Barbra

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

of Sylvia's steaming cups and throw extra water in the bottom of the mini convection cuisinart.  Get nice blisters.  Have only been using it for bread with steam for less than year though but all the electronics and controls are on teh bottom and below the oven compartment.  The steam seem to go up.  So far no problems.  Make sure you get a convection one.  I tried to avoid controls on the side knowing they would be hit with steam.

Hopes this helps.

gmabaking's picture
gmabaking

It was your beautiful picture of measuring cups with that great loaf that started me thinking that I need a counter top  oven. So far have only found one online with lower controls but it looks really small. One loaf at a time though....

gmagmabaking2's picture
gmagmabaking2

with DAB, I think the key is to have the controls on the bottom or side... my countertop oven has the controls at the side, but... I have never tried steam in it.  I will experiment and let all ya'll know.

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Hi Barbra,

Not sure what your budget is but I started with an Oster toaster oven - their largest model - at the beginning of the summer and soon replaced it with a Cadco XAF-113 convection (with steam) counter-top oven.  

The Oster could only handle one loaf at a time and I usually bake 2-3 loaves or trays of rolls at a time on a daily basis.  The top element couldn't be turned off so the tops of the loaves - especially the sandwich loaves, had to be covered or they would burn which resulted in flatter loaves.  I also felt like it was a fire hazard and didn't feel comfortable leaving it unattended.

The Cadco is a wonderful counter top oven and my loaves are tuning out great.  It has 3 shelves and  holds 3 half sheet trays so I have plenty of room to bake all my breads at one time.  It is NSF certified so I feel much safer leaving it alone as it bakes.  It also is a lot better insulated than the Oster plus it is a snap to clean.  It works better than I imagined and is going to be moved indoors when the weather cools because it bakes so much better than my regular oven and I love the steam!!!  I ordered mine through my local restaurant supply store and had it within a week of ordering it.

Good Luck with your search :-)

Janet

 

gmabaking's picture
gmabaking

That is one gorgeous oven in a small package! Found one on eBay, still a bit pricey for me right now but will keep looking. Thanks for the lead.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

you have Janet.  I can see why you will want to move it indoors in the winter!  I bet it bakes bread, and juist about anything else,  better than your regular oven.  It is perfect for the kind of baking you do.  Who would ahve thought a counter mini oven would come with decent steam!

berryblondeboys's picture
berryblondeboys

I have a cuisinart convection/toaster oven with controls on the bottom, but how do you fit bread in there?  Every toaster oven I've seen, it's shallow. I would be afraid the bread would hit the ceiling or top burners (even if turned off, not a desirable thing to have happen).

 

I have full size double ovens - top is convection, which I prefer for baking, but in summer, I HATE heating up the house - even with AC, it's a waste. Something smaller seems smarter and I never, ever thought of perhaps plugging it in the garage or outside to keep the heat issue AWAY from the interior of the house - cool! But how with such a shallow interior???

 

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

like you couldn't bake many kinds of breads in that little space but it is just a matter of thinking a little bit different.  The 9" height doesn't look like 2 pound boule, or more,  could fit in there and work without burning but it can and it bakes up great.  You have to move the rack to the lower position for the steaming part so that you can get Sylvia's steam in there.  We usually bake on parchment on the top of the broiler pan that comes with it - the portion that has the holes.  While steaming you don't want to use the convection.  I did some checking on my breads and saw that I usually get about 6" height on boules and batards, probably because I am such a poor baker, but if you got 8" it would still be fine since the top heating elements are farther apart than the ones on the bottom.  If you get more spring than that you can use steaming method #2 which to use the bottom of the broiler pan and use an overturned stainless steel bowl for a cloche.  That too works fine.

You are limited to 15" long breads like batards and baguetttes.  I have baked boules, baggies (shorter baguetts) batards, rolls, bagels ,almost anything thast I bake in the big GE with the exception of longer and bigger loafs.  It actually bakes better than the Big GE  most of the time since the volume is small and the steam you can generate is large.  I have many posts about mini baking on my blog but will post a few here so you can get a batter idea of what is possible in your mini oven.

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/29320/joe-ortiz-pain-de-champagne-rye-and-ww-sprouts#comments

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/29172/twisted-sisters-chacon-67-whole-rye-wheat-sprouts-seeds#comments

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/29145/sourdough-duram-atta-bread-%E2%80%93-pharaoh%E2%80%99s-mastaba-style#comments

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/29079/jasmine-tea-50-whole-multigrain-sd-yw-durum-atta-bread-wheat-germ-flax-and-chia-seeds#comments

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/29002/sd-yw-chacon-revisited-%E2%80%93-87-whole-grain-multigrain-sprouts-walnut-and-sage-paste-and-pump#comments  This one shows the stainless steel bowl in action

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/29663/yw-vs-desem-sd-caramelized-onion-basil-bacon-parmesan-rolls#comments  This one shows Sylvia's steam innaction.

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/29577/50-rye-sd-knotted-rolls-wheat-germ-caraway-and-sunflower-seeds  her is one that shows Sylvia's steam outside nthe oven.

There are other posts from this summer too but those above give a fair rainge of what is possible.  We continue to be amazed at what the little mini oven can turn out.  We nay only use the Big GE for anything that doesn't fit in the mini :-)

 

 

gmabaking's picture
gmabaking

" If you get more spring than that you can use steaming method #2"   If I got more steam than that, someone else would be doing the baking!  Your pictures will ensure that I will find an oven before the week is out. Problem being the only store in our small town that sells appliances is of course Walmart.

Thank you too Janet, will follow precautions carefully. My microwave gets very little use and so I could replace it and use the cabinet and have lots of space around a countertop, probably use it more inside than out. I can put it on its own surge protector and then keep it turned off when not in use. Can't be too careful about fire, especially when you live out of town.

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

BBB,

Wallmart is where I got my first toaster oven this summer.  It was an Oster brand and it is larger than any of the other available.  Cost here was $99.00 which was way less than other 'name' brands.  When you shop take a measuring tape :-)

http://www.amazon.com/Oster-TSSTTVXLDG-Digital-Toaster-Stainless/dp/B004USWRA4/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

Have Fun :-)

Janet

P.S.  I forgot to add the surge protector piece.  Yep, have one of those and love it.  Make sure it is rated for a toaster oven. (Those volts, amps and watts ratings are important here.) If you get one that isn't it may melt on you  :-O.  If you are going to have it on your countertop and if you are in your kitchen a lot a surge protector may be overkill.  I have one on mine because of where it is located. Not as easy to keep an eye on when it is in the garage.... 

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

BBB,
If you use yours in the garage be safe.  The regular toaster ovens can and do spontaneously catch on fire - I knwo because it happened with one of mine years ago....Rule is ALL small appliances have the capacity to combust and therefore should be unplugged when not in use.  

 When I was using a regular toaster oven earlier in the summer I didn't feel comfortable at all leaving it unattended.  Just heats up too much and they aren't designed to bake for long times.....I was baking 3-4 loaves all one at a time so my oven had to be on for several hours at a time....

If you do this be sure to put a heat guard up on the garage wall - I have ones designed for wood burning stoves which are 'prettier' than cement board.  They have a thin metal covering so are easy to keep clean and easy to install.  4 screws and you are good to go.

Did I mention that my utility bill was lower this month using the Cadco than in past months when using my usual oven????  Smaller so it uses less energy so maybe someday it will pay for itself :-)

Have Fun and Be Safe,

Janet

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

is rated at 1500 watts and a 12 amp circuit.  My house has 15 amp circuits rated at 1500 watts.  When I use the mini indoors in the kitchen the microwave is on the same circuit.  We use them both at the same time all the time in the winter.  I am forever going outside to flip the breaker when it blows.  Bettter to use the mini outside where this never happens.

gmabaking's picture
gmabaking

Bought the Oster extra large countertop oven today. Have Rosemary Olive Oil bread almost ready to put in refrigerator for the night. The oven has a "bump out" in the back to accomodate pizza so the offset of the rack is just right to put two mini-loaf pans to hold water. The broken piece of my Pampered Chef stone is just right to fill in the rest of space, about 10 x 12 inches, and will have about 6 inches of headroom from the rack to the upper heating element. So I almost ready to try it out.

I haven't ever used convection before so have no idea how it affects timing etc so for tomorrow I won't try that.  I will use Sylvia's towel idea, and appreciate the help there. Does the container need to be glass or will the mini loaf pans be okay?

Off to another breadly adventure......

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Evening,

Convection in the Oster isn't 'true' convection.  The 2 heating elements will still heat up and a fan merely blows the hot air they generate around.  In a 'regular' convection oven the heating elements surround the fan and the top and bottom elements in the oven won't turn on.  Convection baking is usually quicker and most recipes recommend turning the heat down by 25°.  On the Oster you will just have to experiment.  I didn't use it when I was baking with mine.

For steam in my Oster I used my baking stone and a small flower pot as a cloche that I pre-heated along with the baking stone while my loaves proofed which kept the top element from burning the top of my loaves.  For sandwich panned breads I had to tent them with tin foil or they would burn too.  Just takes a bit of experimenting and is fun to see what happens.  I am sure you will like your electricity bill.  The smaller ovens heat quickly and don't use nearly as much energy.  Be careful - the insulation is non-existent so the outside of the oven gets really hot.  :-O

I am curious to  hear how your loaf turns out.  Is the recipe one from Nancy Silverton's book?  I was just reading through some of her recipes and one was a rosemary olive oil bread....It looked really good.

Have Fun with your new Oster :-)  Great warranty on that oven too.

Janet

 

gmabaking's picture
gmabaking

Thank you Janet for explaining about the convection. All I knew was that a fan blows the heat around. Yes the recipe is Silverton's bread, the next bread in the book is the olive bread. Sometimes I add Kalamata olives to the Rosemary recipe and my favorite tester loves it. The first time I saw Silverton's book was from the library. I had looked at it and after reading the extensive directions for Country White made the comment to myself to the effect of "yeh, right, I'll make a twenty page recipe..."  That next day or so I still had the book when someone on TFL asked for advice about baking and that bread was one of the recommended ones to make over and over until you knew what to expect from the dough. And from that a tale was born, I baked the bread and had  to laugh when I took it from the oven I was so pleased. I ordered the book and hoped it would get here before I had to return the library book. When I loaned it to a friend she had the same experience. She returned it a few days later and when I said there was no hurry, she said she already had her own. The raisin brioche is the softest, shreddiest bread I have ever baked. Well worth the three day wait. She uses a double egg wash and the loaves get to be a dark mahagony color. As hamburger buns though everyone said how good they were, I wasn't nearly as pleased as with the bread. The Fig Anise bread is really good, makes two small loaves. I thought today I should bake something I was familiar with so I could learn about the oven. And here I am at 2 AM just checking the dough in the refrigerator.... once again it looks like it is ready after only 3 hours of cold rising time. Look forward to seeing what you find in Silverton's book. Happy Baking

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

gmab,

Yes, her instructions are very detailed especially for building a sour dough starter.  I think it would be daunting for a new baker to embark on baking with sd using her method.  In my opinion only I think there any more directions for starting up a starter out there that are much less intimidating.  My favorite is out of Dan Leopard's 'The Handmade Loaf'.

I have recipes earmarked but I do convert all of the recipes I find now to work within my 2 day method and always with my 100% freshly ground whole grain flours.  The first day includes 3 builds of my leaven and then in the evening when I am making dinner I mix up the dough and let it rest for about an hour and then I do the kneading until I have the gluten devel. I am going for.  Completed dough sits out at room temp. for an hour or two and then it goes into the refrig. after I have walked out dogs....In the morning it gets warmed up for a couple of more hours at room temp. and then shaped and proofed and finally baked while I am getting my day in order.  Fits into the routine of my day to adjust recipes to this schedule and people love the results so I keep doing it.  :-)

I will have to check out the raisin brioche as I have people here clamoring for raisins with cinnamon and it might be a nice variation to my usual cinnamon raisin bread.  Will have to wait though because I already have my next week's bake schedule all planned out....lots of chai to use up in breads.

Thanks for the recommends.

Janet

 

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

Pyrex measuring cup with a dish rag in it half full of water.  The reason it is glass is because you heat it up in the microwave  till it boils.  The mini heats fast about 7 minutes to 500 F, and the bread  goes in way before the water would ever steam.  Microwaving cured that and allows you to be baking bread in 10 minutes.  No convection while you steam.  Once the steam is done and you remove it then the convection goes on.  I set it 25 degrees less than what I normally would finish baking at .  Convection is supposed to allow you not to rotate the bread and it will still bake evenly.  Mine doesn't work that wasy and I still have to rotate.  If it looks like it is baking too hot on top, just cover it as Janet says or just turn it upside down.

Hope this helps.  Just baked a full sized loaf of rye in Pyrex loaf pan adn no burning on top.

gmabaking's picture
gmabaking

For some reason I thought you put the dish rag in the cup and then poured boiling water over it. Now I see, thank you.

Do you use a baking stone in the mini? It doesn't seem like the baking stone would heat up enough in that quick preheat. I was thinking I could bake on the little broiler pan or use the crumb tray like a slide to slip the bread (on parchment paper) onto the stone. The way the piece of stone is broken off makes a perfect indentation for the 4 cup pyrex.

Silverton says to preheat to 500 degrees, then turn down to 450 degrees. So my plan is to preheat the 7 minutes, which is what the instructions say too, at 500 degrees; during that time I'll boil water in the pyrex measuring cup, put bread into oven with the cup of water turn down to 450 degrees and after steaming for ten minutes, remove the cup and set to convection at 425 degrees.

I knew about covering bread when it is browning too fast but never in the world would I have thought of turning it upside down, what a smart idea!

Now to figure out whether or not to use baking stone. I promise I won't ask any more questions for at least an hour.

Thank you Janet and Dabrownman for your help. Hopefully I will be able to send pictures to my talented sister Diane and she will post wonderfully blistered bread images in a few hours!

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

Truth be told I actually use 2 cups of steam if I can fit them it like I did with the rye yesterday.  You only want the cup half full of water.  The rag sticks up and that is where the steam comes from.  Don't worry, it won't catch fire.  I steam from 10 to 22 minutes depending on what is baking.  Yesterday was 22 minutes for the 100% rye.  I also throw 1/3 c of water on  the bottom of the oven as I clse the door to give the bake an extra boost.  That is where the blisters come from - steam.

I bought (10) 12x12 floor tiles for a stone for $5 on sale and turn them over baking on the back side with parchment on top.   Worked great till I threw the water in the bottom and some got on the tile and cracked it immediately.  Now I bake on the broiler pan top (not the pan bottom which isn't used) That has holes in it.  I use parchment on top of that too.  All boules batards, etc are baked this way.  Don't forget you can cloche too with a SS bowl and that is when you use the bottom of the broiler pan - don't want any holes for that. 

Mine beeps when it hits temperature and that is when I microwave the cups with the rags half full of water.  That takes about 3 minutes to get them boiling really well.  If I am baking in a regular loaf pan I can get 2 cups, 1 in front and 1 on back,  I like batard shapes too so I can get 2 cups in the back and front corner by placing the batard on an angle - which also lets you bake the longest  batard - 15" on the angle of the square  footprint.

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Gulp.....I had to gulp when I read that you toss water onto the floor of your toaster oven.  I have read reviews by electrical guys about how water can turn the entire oven into a live wire if not properly wired.  I am assuming that in yours it is fine but may not be in the Oster....Take Care.  I would hate to read of someone getting a jolt that strong for the sake of steam.....  =:-O.

On another safety and steam related note....beware when opening the oven when you have included steam or are putting hot water in.  I got stem burns on my face last fall and it was very painful to say the least.  Took over a month to heal and the skin on my face is still sensitive around heat....  OUCH

Janet

gmabaking's picture
gmabaking

After months of no steam baking---finally there are blisters on this boule! The top got a little dark so when I bake the other loaf I will have the foil ready. It was definitely a learning experience, maybe best described as a comedy of errors where it was only funny after the bread was baked.

I preheated, then asked my apprentice to turn the oven on to 450 (maximum). That done I steamed the dishrag in the pyrex cup, put bread in to bake. Nothing happened, no steam no lights....wait....no lights, seems that he didn't push start.

Attempt number two, steamed dishrag again, and then for good(not!) measure gave the oven a little spray of water. Within in seconds the circuit breaker popped. Repeated process for attempt number three and it did it again. This time I listened to the apprentice telling me that I had not only sprayed the oven but the control panel on the side. Aaarrgghh.

Started over again, preheated the oven all the time looking at my slashed, waiting bread expecting it to deflate like a balloon. It held up fine and had a lovely oven spring. So fourth time was a charm, I know third time is supposed to be the charm but I do tend to be a day late and a dollar short at times.

It was probably at least twenty minutes between slashing and beginning the real bake.

For a first try, I am pleased and happy that I finally have ventured into the world of mini ovens, and better yet, returned to the world of bread with those beautiful blisters! Thank you for your help, I  really appreciate it.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

Once you get the hang of it, and your apprentice properly acclimated to mini oven-ness, it will be much easier than baking big.  You will get blisters like crazy due to small volume and high steam.  2 cups are better than 1.  You will also burn yourself and get different blisters more on the top elements - at least I do when putting the steaming cup all the way in the back and rotating bread.   No problems with the front cup.  Your breads will get better too.  

Stainless steel bowl as a cloche will stop some of the over baking on the top too.   Another trick is to use the entire broiling pan, put boiling water in the bottom, a steaming cup, boule on parchment on top of the vented broiler pan top and SS bowl to cover  as cloche.  Best way to get spring and blisters for boules only.