The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Gas Ovens

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ross's picture
ross

Gas Ovens

I just moved out of my apartment which had a simple, electric oven with one vent (which i had plugged) that turned out beatuiful bread, consistently. There was nothing digital, glass, or convection about it. Just your plain-old electric oven. Now, my new oven is a 6-burner, Vulcan gas-job. The range is fantastic, but the bread I bake in it is not. The heat seems to vent up the sides inside the oven itself and the external vent runs along the back of the oven which i'm hesitant to plug because of the gas-oven's need for airflow in order to combust the fuel. The crust just comes out pale, not golden, as I'm accustomed to, and not nearly as crusty either. I'm wondering if I should put my tiles on the floor of the oven, rather than a rack, but more importantly, what should I do about my crust? Any more steaming won't make much difference until the vent is plugged, right?

 

Just so you don't bother with the typical questions I always:

Preheat my tiles for 45-60min, bake at at least 450F, if not 500F, put a steam pan in the oven and pour boiling water in right after the bread goes in, spray some water in during the first two minutes, pull the loaves out when they register around 200F.

 

Thanks y'all,

Ross

Breadwhiner's picture
Breadwhiner

Are you sure the oven is gas?  Many high-end ovens have a gas range and an electric oven.  If you do have gas and don't want to plug up any vents, then one option is to bake bread in a pot (a la the NYTimes no knead method).  That way, the steam will come from the bread itself and be contained in an enamel/cast-iron/pyrex pot.

 Another option is to try steaming with the vent in place.  The ventillation flow rate is probably low (for heat retention), so I would try steaming just to make sure.

 

ross's picture
ross

this is definitely a gas oven. i oftentimes bake loaves larger than my dutch oven and would rather not be filling my oven with large ceramic domes to accomplish what i've already experienced in another oven, without that hassle/extra equipment. i think that any ventilation will allow the bulk of the steam to escape, heat retention and moisture retention are probably two different beasts altogether in an oven (i imagine). thanks for the input and i hope for more.

mountaindog's picture
mountaindog

Ross - I envy you your six-burner Vulcan, but I wonder if the very large oven size is also what is keeping you from building up enough heat and steam for your loaves? I too have a gas oven but just the average 30-inch size. When you bake your loaves, is it just one or two at a time, with a lot of empty space in the oven? Do you use a separate oven thermometer to check whether the temps really are reaching 500F on your baking tiles? Are you leaving at least an inch of clear space around the perimeter of your tiles to let the heat flow completely surround your tiles? Maybe a rack full of tiles above your loaves as well as below would hold some of the heat and steam closer in and insulate your immediate baking area better.

 

I've been using granite tiles covering most of my 24x16 oven rack with 1-2 inches clear around the perimeter. I place this rack on the second lowest shelf in my oven, as I've found that any lower tends to burn the bottoms too fast. Although I do manage to get nicely carmelized and crisp crusts in my oven with the one rack of tiles and spraying every 30 sec. for first 2 minutes of baking, this weekend I intend to try placing either another rack of tiles, or a slab of stone on the rack directly above where the loaves will sit as well to even out the heat and simulate more of a stone oven if possible. I would not recommend covering your vent holes in the oven as air is needed for combustion as you say and I would think that may damage the range and void your warranty as well. Good Luck!

Mr_Pither's picture
Mr_Pither

New guy here, just wanted to say that I have the same problem. I have a small gas, 27" efficiency oven. I cannot get that golden crust on any bread.

For example, my cousin makes the Pain a l'Ancienne from the Bread Bakers Apprentice, using his electric stove, and he gets that golden crust, depicted in the photo if you have this book. I on the other hand, get what looks like dry, cracked skin. Maybe not that bad, but it's pale and wrinkly like Ross's.

Any other gas stove people out there who don't have this problem?

Mr_Pither

breadnerd's picture
breadnerd

I have a plain ol' GE gas range, and haven't had the troulbles you've experienced. I don't plug up any vents, and usually just use a mister for extra steam.

 

I use a fibrament stone, and preheat for a good 30 minutes, often closer to one hour, before baking.

 

Have you checked your temps with an oven thermometer? It's possible they need to be calibrated. Also, I'm not fond of convection for bread baking (used commercial blodget ovens with convection in the past). I had okay luck once I got used to them, but I'd try turning it off during bread baking if I had the option, and see if it makes a difference.

elwoodhaley's picture
elwoodhaley

You are absolutely right !!!