The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hello and Thank You - My first post

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NolanS's picture
NolanS

Hello and Thank You - My first post

I'm a new member of The Fresh Loaf yet not new to The Fresh Loaf.   I have been in the lurker catagory for many many years.  I thought it would be good to come out of the shadows and become a little more visible and hopefully can be of help at times to others as so many have been for me through reading thousands of posts through the years.

I have always loved to cook from a very young age, perhaps partially due to growing up in Louisiana.  But my real love for baking breads and pastries began with my first trip to France during the summer of 1975.  Since that time, my journey began to recreate the breads and pastries that I experienced then as well as in 5 trips back to France over the years.  My journey has been full of interuptions due to jobs and raising children but has steadily continued to the present.  My passion for cooking and baking is as strong now as it ever has been.  I currently live in Dallas, Texas. 

The timing of my initial posting here on The Fresh Loaf is primarily tied to a new hearth oven that I purchase from Pleasant Hill Grain and received the first of this month.  The oven is the Rofco b40 hearth oven imported from Belgium.  I actually first learned of the oven on this site and wanted one ever since but importing one oven from Europe was problematic for a number of reasons.   Pleasant Hill is the only U.S. distributor of Rofco from my understanding and received the first shipment at the end of December.  As soon as I heard they were going to be selling Rofco ovens in the Fall, I called and reserved the b40.  I have been baking various breads 3 times per week (with poolish French baguettes to start with)  since receiving my Rofco oven the first week in January.   Before the Rofco, I had been using several la cloche's to bake my breads in with excellent results but was limited as to number of loaves to make at any one time.  The Rofco does even better due to the thick stone floors and efficient steaming of the bread (no vents in the oven).   The b40 does have a little learning curve.  I'll attempt to answer any questions from other posters interesting in the oven or have just purchased a Rofco oven from this home baker's perspective.  I want to complement Carly and others at Pleasant Hill Grain on their excellent customer service.  They have been a pleasure to work with. 

I do want to thank so many of the posters here on The Fresh Loaf who have made me a better baker - much appreciated!

Thats it for now - I'm a geologist by profession and one must work to pay for our toys. 

Nolan

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

welcome to you.  Can't wait to see what that great oven can do.

Happy Baking

NolanS's picture
NolanS

The Rofco B40 is an interesting oven.  It is a heavy oven primarily due to the three 1.5" baking stone shelves.   Coil heat elements are located immediately underneath each stone shelf.  The only control knobs are two temperature control knobs in degrees celsius from 50* to 300*.  One knob controls the top shelf only and can be used alone.  The second control knob on the right front side of the oven controls the temperature of the second and third baking surfaces (again 50* to 300*c) and it cannot be used without the other being used at the same time.  

Two slightly larger than nickle size ports are present on the front of the oven to release steam inside the oven.   The oven is not vented so steam/moisture remains in the oven until the two swivel steam ports are opened.  And then there is a round glass window for viewing the top shelf.   The glass is purposely loose in its setting to handle the pressure built up inside the oven from the steam.  You can see the oven in action on u-tube (The Weekend Baker - "Rustic Bread" & "80% hydration baguette" videos).  I have the oven set up in my garage at this time hooked up to a 220 outlet installed years ago for my large air compressor.

thanks!

MJ Sourdough's picture
MJ Sourdough

Hi Nolan

I am interested in buying a Rofco oven. I am doing as much research as i can before i spend the money. I am interested in getting feedback from anyone who owns/used the Rofco B40.

are you satsified with how the bread comes out?

How long does it take for the oven to pre-heat to max temp?

do the small steam vents work well?

Did you buy the optional steam trays?

Any other information good and bad would be very helpful!

Thanks

MJ Sourdough

 

 

NolanS's picture
NolanS

Hello MJ -

I am very happy with the Rofco B40 and have used it every weekend since receiving it in early January.  This past weekend I made 6 SD Whole Grain batards using a recipe modified recipe from Breadcetera.  The week before I made 9 poolish French Baguettes (modified from Hamelman).  This coming weekend will be Rosemary Bread (Carol Fields) boules. The B40 is 220 so i hooked it up in my garage near the back door and directly next to shelves set up for baking.  I have the best smelling garage in the neighborhood on Sundays.  

Steam Trays:  I do have 3 steam trays, one for each oven shelf and very pleased with them even though they do take up shelf width.  I preheat them, per Rofco instructions, in the center of each shelf during oven preheat and then move them to the side of the oven 5 to 10 minutes before loading the dough. I steam the oven with many sprays from a mister at that time to thorougly humidify the oven. I pour 50 to 90 ml of water (amount based on bread type and final proof dough volume) into the back of each of the steam trays immediately after loading the oven with the dough.  You will need 24" long oven mitts to keep from burning your arms from the steam.  The trays are very heavy and do generate a lot of steam quickly.

Rofco instructions and recipe pamplet:   These are somewhat poorly translated and i recommended to Carly Reed at Pleasant Hill Grain that it be rewritten or at least retranslated so that it is a little easier to read. Carly is great and very nice to speak with.  I also exchanged emails with  the bakery in Holland that uses the B40 in their business - they have a number of U-Tube videos using the Rofco oven.

Rofco baking trays and silicon sheets:  I recommend ordering the trays and multible sets of the silicon sheets.  I love the silicon sheets as they can be used over and over again.  They are very thin but tough and are easily slide with dough on them from the peel in to the oven.  I'm still on my first set and they look great so i believe what Rofco says when they state they will last approximately 50 bakes.  I say multible sets because the sheets are sized to fit into the baking trays.  The baking trays are sized to fully fit into the oven so very little room exist between sides of the trays and the interior side oven walls.  Therefore, if you are using the steam trays, the silicon sheets will not fit flush on the hearth shelf floors because the trays take up some the the width of the oven.  I bought an extra set of 3 sheets and cut them with scissors to fit in width from the edge of the steam tray to the opposite side oven wall.  The baking trays are good to purchase when baking bread or other things with sugar or fat in them.  It is not recommended to bake these type of breads or goods directly on the oven hearth or it will stain them and cause unpleasant odors - not to mention cleaning issues. 

B40 Oven:    The oven does what it supposed to do.  It makes great bread!  As i mentioned in my comments, there is definetly a learning curve due to the thick slabs of hearth type of baking surface and temperature management.  For example, for French Baguettes, I preheat the oven to 250*C (the two oven temp controls are labeled in centigrade only) for 2 to 2 1/2 hours before the bake.  Yes, the oven temperature reaches 250 within an hour or so but the floors of the oven are not uniformly heated until around 2 hours of preheat.  I have place an oven thermometer into the B40 a number of times and the temperature of the oven is much hotter than the control setting which is okay.  As soon as i put in the French Baguette dough (+-300g each prebake), I turn down the temperature to 240*C.  I reduce the temperature again to 230*C after around 8 minutes just as the crust begins to brown.  The loaves have pretty good color after around 11 minutes and at that time I reduce the temperature down to 50*C for the remainder of the bake.  The hearth floor is thick and hot and continues to bake the bread in the decending temperature oven.  I open the steam vents around 15 to 17 minutes into the bake (around 5 minutes before they are done and at 205*F internal).   Once baked, I leave the oven door cracked open with one of my oven mitts for another 5 to 7 minutes to dry out the bread so that the crust will remain crisp after cooling.  The steam vents work great.  I use a small screw driver to open and close the vents.  I occasionally use the vents to shoot extra water onto the back oven wall from a mister several minutes into the bake when baking SD bread. The oven holds the steam pretty well.  When making a lot of steam, you have to hold the door shut for a few seconds or it will open from the interior pressure from the steam.  The round glass upper shelf viewing panel is intensionally loose so as to not break from the pressure. 

The thick brick shelves really cause the dough to bloom.  And the oven is completely enclosed so that a vast majority of the moisture (steam) from the dough and the induced steam remains inside of the oven.  That is what I was looking for when I purchased the oven.  I was tired of gadgeting my kitchen oven to obtain steam that vented quicker than needed for professional artisanal quality bread.

The oven is not high tech in any way.  I was initially surprized that the door was so flimzy and the loose glass and the controls were not accurate. Even the temperature varys from shelf to shelf. The oven is basically a wood fired oven that uses electric coils for heating under each of the shelves instead of firewood.  The door is more fragile than I was expecting so I am very careful to not close the door to hard.  The oven is also very heavy. 

Let me know if you have any other questions.  I'm happy to show the oven to you if you are in the Dallas area.  You can even bake some of your own bread in it if you have time.

Take care and let me know if you get a Rofco oven -

Nolan

NolanS's picture
NolanS

i meant to write 50 - 90 cc's of water in the steam trays dependent on bread type being made, final proofing maturity, and amount of dough in the oven - not 50 - 90 ml of water.  Sorry about that!

Nolan

MJ Sourdough's picture
MJ Sourdough

Hi Nolan

Thanks for the very detailed response. very helpful indeed. I am really leaning towards the B40.

Have you ever baked one load after another eg) removing loaves from all three levels and reloading within a few minutes? just trying to see if the oven requires another pre heat or not to do continuous baking.

I assume you are based in the US? I know Pleasant Hill Grain has reconfigured the plug. Did you have to adapt your socket in any way?

Sorry for all the questions!

Thanks again

Mark

 

NolanS's picture
NolanS

I'm happy to assist Mark and I live in the north Dallas area (Transplanted from Louisiana).

I haven't made back-to-back bread as yet and probably will not without a 30 minute break due to my preference to bake in a descending temperature oven (very hot to begin the bake and an appropriate lower temperature towards   the end).  The oven can handle reloading the oven immediately though if the oven's temperature was not reduced.  The oven's stone hearth is very thick and holds heat well. 

Pleasant Hill did change the plug and, yes, I had to purchase the correct female end for the receptical.  I will be happy to send you the specs and picture of the plug if you decide upon the Rofco. 

Nolan

MJ Sourdough's picture
MJ Sourdough

Nolan

I Got carly to send me a picture of the plug end. I do not have the appropriate socket so I have to see about getting on installed.

What do you mean you had to purchase a different end? I am some what confused!

Thanks

Mark

NolanS's picture
NolanS

Mark, 

I have a large air compressor in my garage (uses 220) that I don't use very often so I took the wire that was hot wired directly to the air compreessor, put a female recepticle on it inside an electrical box, and plugged the Rofco oven into it. That is what I was referring to when I said new end. 

I took the picture of the male plug that Carly sent me and went to Granger's to purchase the the matching and correct female receptical. 

As an aside, I have been very impressed with the customer service from Pleasant Hill and Carly.  I plan to purchase a mixer from Carly this coming summer.  My KA can't keep up with the volume of the dough that the B4 can bake at a time.  I have been hand mixing 90% of the time which is fine because I enjoy the process but there are times that a larger mixer would be helpful. 

Take care-

Nolan

boxerbread's picture
boxerbread

Hi Nolan!

Coming a little late to this thread here. I wonder if you have any thoughts on whether the Rofco steam tray would work in a conventional home oven (preheating it on a baking stone).

Calvin 

30 Chickens's picture
30 Chickens

Hi,

I am also coming to this a bit late. Nolan, thanks for the long report on the oven. I would love to know the name of the bakery that uses the Rofco ovens and if you had pictures of your bread, it would be great to see. I am thinking about getting one to open a weekend business, but am a bit apprehensive. Right now I bake in cast iron, which produces results similar to a production steam injected deck oven. MJ, did you get the oven? Are you happy with it?

Thanks for your time.

Pearl