The Fresh Loaf

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Short oven, burned bottoms

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tangy's picture
tangy

Short oven, burned bottoms

Hi baking friends,

I just baked up my first batch of bread in the oven at a new house.

A couple of predicaments I faced:

- The oven is short, compared to what I'm used to. About 16 inches of space.

- The oven, strangely doesn't have a pre-heat feature, and I didn't have an operating oven thermometer.

- I'm following the Tartine Country Bread method. And decided to brave the unknown but have never experienced the below issues before.

 

Loaf number 1: I pre-heated the Dutch Oven, plopped the proofed (in the fridge overnight) dough in, and got great oven spring. After the baking time, I realised that the bread's bottoms were burnt.

Loaf number 2: Got okay oven spring and I took the bread out before it was completely done on the top but the bread's bottom was burnt once again.

 

My next step in experimentation is to ensure the temperature is correct, though my worry is that the Dutch Oven Method isn't going to work for an oven this short, as the bottom will always be too close to the heat.

Any ideas on what I may be doing wrong? And will I need to start using a stone+steam method?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

to reduce the bottom heat.  May have to lengthen the baking time.

 Another solution may be to place folded layers of aluminium foil under the hot DO to reflect the heat away.

If you have an aluminium foil drip tray on the oven bottom, remove it and see if that helps.  It might be triggering the thermostat to keep heating the lower coil.   

tangy's picture
tangy

Foil! Good idea - I will try this in my next experiment. Thank you, Mini Oven.

I also just discovered that my oven has a convection setting, so going to try to turn that on to regulate the heat and see if that does the trick too. Making 4 loaves this coming weekend to test out these theories! :)

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

try preheating the DO like you usually do but use the convection setting.  Turn off the fan before opening the door and turn it back on when you set the pan back inside.  You can really blast a DO w/lid using convection.  Give it lots of heat the first 10  minutes or so and then turn down the heat.   :)

A smaller oven is also great to test using a cold oven.  just put your dough earlier into the cold DO when it is about 30 minutes too early.  Then set the Filled DO in the center of the oven and turn it on blasting it with heat for the first half hour.  Turn off the fan, rotate the pan and then turn the fan back on at a lower temp to finish baking the loaf.  Remove the lid as you are accustomed to doing.

tangy's picture
tangy

I think my oven only goes to about 550 degreesF - I'll blast as much as I can. Will try this and report back :) Thank you, Mini Oven.

chris319's picture
chris319

One of these between the loaf and the bottom of the dutch oven might help:

http://mybrands.com/getmetafile/051c0ae1-6e60-4694-9bb5-5a24b157f7e0/Hefty-EZ-Foil-Broiler-Pan-9-6-75-3-pack?maxSideSize=700

It will reduce the amount of surface area of the loaf that contacts the bottom of the dutch oven.

tangy's picture
tangy

Thanks, Chris! Good call - Mini Oven also had the same advice. I'm going to try that.

4 loaves this coming weekend should hopefully set my methods onto a better course :)

Antilope's picture
Antilope

I rise and bake round loaves in the same stainless steel mixing bowl. With this method, I don't disturb the risen dough and achieve a maximum risen loaf. This thinner bowl reacts quicker to the oven temperatures than cast iron and doesn't retain heat to over-bake the crust like cast iron will do.
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I bake boule's (round loaves) directly in a stainless steel mixing bowl. It's a 5-quart NSF rated stainless steel mixing bowl from Walmart (part of a set of 3). I spray the mixing bowl interior with non-stick cooking spray (usually olive oil), form the dough and plop it in the bottom of the bowl. I place a pan lid that fits tightly on top of the bowl. Then I either place in the fridge for an overnight rise, or let the bowl of dough rise on the counter.
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I pre-heat the oven, water mist the risen dough in the bowl and place the uncovered bowl of risen dough in the oven for 45 to 60 minutes. I use a digital probe thermometer to check when the center of the loaf reaches 205F, then I know it's done. This technique creates a perfect boule with a brown crispy crust all over. The baked boule always tips right out of the stainless steel bowl with no sticking. This method eliminates the need for a bread proofing basket or dutch oven. Although I have several dutch ovens I prefer this method.

I'm using a stainless steel Tramontina bowl set from Walmart to bake the round loaves. They don't warp, but they will discolor with some brown varnish like color and coating. So don't use a good bowl set you want to keep shiny.

tangy's picture
tangy

I love the MacGuyveriness of this - and will give this a go too.

Thank you, Antilope!

chris319's picture
chris319

You've basically created a DIY thin-walled stainless steel dutch oven with that arrangement.

I hope that helps her burning problem.

dosco's picture
dosco

Thanks for posting ... one problem I have had is with high hydration doughs "deflating" after I remove them from my SS bowl. It had occurred to me to try baking in the bowl but I decided (stupidly) against it. I'll keep my eyes peeled for some el-cheapo SS bowls (WalMart, Target, local Goodwill store, etc.) so as not to ruin SWMBO's bowls.

-Dave

Antilope's picture
Antilope

of olive oil on the interior to prevent sticking. Without some kind of oil coating, they will stick. Mix in one bowl, then have an oil coated "clean" bowl (without dough stuck to it) for rising and baking.

Never had a burning problem in the stainless steel. The sides and bottom of the loaf come out the same color as the top.

farina22's picture
farina22

I just moved to Puerto Vallarta in the Mexican tropics.  Before leaving California, I dehydrated my sourdough starter and now that my landlord put in a new, but small gas oven, I revived the starter, fed it for a few days and made my first loaves.

I over proofed the first (the heat and humidity here worked faster than I anticipated), but I baked it on the back side of a sheet pan that very barely fit.  I filled a muffin tin with water and put it on the floor of the oven.  There was still some oven spring but the top never browned.  I thought that was from over proofing.  Then I put in the second loaf (oven can't hold two loaves at a time) and forgot to refill the muffin tin.  Good oven spring this time since I had kept it in the fridge before baking, but the bottom burned to a crisp and there was still no browning on top.  My neighbor says this happens all the time, attributing it to the oven itself.

Any suggestions about the top browning problem and ways to keep the bottom from burning? My heavy-duty sheet pan won't really fit once heat expands things and the smaller sheet pans here are very thin, very bendy. Thanks.

P.S. The sourdough starter seems to have worked beautifully. Lovely interior crumb, gelatinous and hole-y.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

together or wrapping them in foil to make a buffer between heat and loaf, something to force the heat around the bottom up the sides and across the top of the oven cavity.  Site search camping gas stove for more tips. 

The burning sounds like when a tray in the oven fits too tightly there is no room for the heat to circulate up and around the loaf.  All the heat is trapped under the loaf where it burns the bottom.  There should be about an inch around all sides so heat can circulate. 

farina22's picture
farina22

Thanks for the ideas.  When I baked some pan bread, I just double-panned it and that worked fine.  For the sourdough breads, I used a small, jelly roll pan, put some aluminum foil on it and the bottoms didn't burn.  The oven still won't heat to over 350 degrees so there is no browning on top.  I was so frustrated that I put the finished loaf in a toaster oven on broil just so it wouldn't look so unattractive!

More to figure out, I guess.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

the loaf upside down half way thru the bake? 

tangy's picture
tangy

I've been so busy baking along that I forgot to report back to the group on the foil.  IT TOTALLY WORKED.

So here's my new technique: Bake the dough in the covered DO for 20-25 minutes without the foil, and then once the DO lid is removed, add the layer of foil underneath the DO for the remainder of the bake time. My husband's idea! But we found the foil in the first phase of baking (with the lid on), prevented the DO from getting as hot as you want it to.

Also, @Mini Oven, I followed your convection oven tips and it worked like a charm.

Thank you all for your help in perfecting the baking technique <3