The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Put two 1/4 thickness Solid Concrete Blocks in the gas oven and WOW! Much more even cooking.

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Nick Sorenson's picture
Nick Sorenson

Put two 1/4 thickness Solid Concrete Blocks in the gas oven and WOW! Much more even cooking.

This isn't FDA approved so proceed with caution if you try this but it worked for me! I was trying to find a way to give my cheap gas oven a little more even/radiant heating so I picked up a pair of 1/4 thickness (about 1.5" thick with the usual dimensions in other directions) concrete blocks from Walmart's garden dept. I popped these in the oven (wrapped in foil to protect the oven and the bricks) and fired it up... they are almost a perfect fit! So far I've had them in there for about a week or two and I like the results. It adds about 10-15 minutes to the preheat but it's a very even cooking now. I've made several bread loafs and a DiGorino pizza. Everything I've put in there has turned out great. The crust in the store bought pizza REALLY stood out. It was fluffy and soft and it was actually done very evenly. We all thought WOW! for the first time about a DiGorino pizza. Usually we make fun of their slogan (the whole delivery thing) when we eat one of those. This time it really was a great pizza. I was surprised.

 

While I was at it I also added a Steam "feature" and it's also worked great. I added a big canned tomatoes can (28 oz approx) with the label and glue removed (important) and with a tiny hole punched from a drywall screw head (Drill bit holes were too big I thought) and this filled 3/4 with water and place in at the end of the preheat gives a nice steamy oven for the first half of a bread (or pizza baking). It's really worked great! And it's adjustable by the size of the hole.

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Nice, Nick! looks like you had the perfect setup for you home oven!

Is Concrete heat resilient? doesn't it split or crack after several heatups?

interesting steaming method. where does the water in the drilled can seep out to? oven floor?

Nick Sorenson's picture
Nick Sorenson

The drip/small stream goes right to the concrete blocks which stay damp on the surface for a little bit after the can runs dry. I looked underneath the oven (firebox) to see if any dripped out and there was none. Also, with the small hole punched there's no puddling. It all absorbs into the concrete block and is gone about 5 minutes after the can runs dry.

 

As far as concrete being heat resiliant, we'll see. So far no trouble with cracks after 15 - 20 cycles.

Toad.de.b's picture
Toad.de.b

...you've come up with.  It probably won't generate as much steam as other methods posted here, but is appealing to me for loaf pan baking where beaucoup steam isn't necessary or desireable.  I'll try your method tonight, with a cast iron pan resting on the oven floor under the drip:  I've found that excess water on the floor of my (wall) oven finds its way into the cabinet beneath -- not good.  And the cast iron pan will provide a heat mass as well -- can never have too much of that.

Thanks!

Tom

 

Nick Sorenson's picture
Nick Sorenson

It's easy to use and cheap enough (basically trash), it's also nice that if more steam is needed, it's easy to do 2 or more cans. The pre-heated blocks really produce the steam well and any excess absorbs nicely.

I like it because it's almost like having the steam on a timer. I found a drywall screw point's hole (punched to just a little bigger than the point of the head) is about right for me. Most drill bits start at 1/16" which is probably a little too big of a hole.

Nick Sorenson's picture
Nick Sorenson

I figured I'd update this, the blocks are still in there and still have no cracks or evidence of fatiging whatsoever. I have taken a bit of a break from keeping up my starter (in the fridge a few months now). But time to get back at it again.