The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

unheated oven.

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andrew_l's picture
andrew_l

unheated oven.

A while ago someone mentioned cooking bread in an unheated oven. Does the loaf get placed in a cold oven and the oven turned on to high? How long does it take, is a stone used and how long is the loaf baked when the oven gets to temperature? I'd love to give this a go - I'm finding that my usual sourdough workds brilliantly in a heated Le Creuset, but this sounds a good method too. Any one tried it???
Thanks,
Andrew

crumb bum's picture
crumb bum

Andrew

I posted a comment about this called "no knead to preheat"  If I was better at this computer thing I would give you the link.  I think it will pop up if you search it.  Anyway, I have been doing this for the last 3 or 4 months.  Here is how I do it.  Bread gets placed on a aluminum sheet pan and slashed as usual.  Put it in the oven middle rack with no bake stone.  1/3 to 1/2 cup of water on the bottom of oven.  I distribute this around so there are no big puddles.  I think it evaps a little faster.  I turn the oven to 525 for the first 15 min.  I then turn down to 440 for rest of bake.  I have had great luck with this.  Watch the bottom of loaf to make sure it does not get too dark.  I have baked large 2000 gram miches and 500 gram ciabattas.  There is a pic of a ciabatta I made using this under "ciabatta technique".  Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Da Crumb Bum 

browndog's picture
browndog

I've been gripped by the green guilties ever since I (recently) converted to a stone, high heat and a good long preheat. Certainly made a difference in my bread, but I don't even want to think about what this has done to my gas consumption. But this works well for you? It's not like I need another thing to fret about.

mij.mac's picture
mij.mac

I never preheat my oven for bread and have no noticeable difference from the first batch to the second, (if I bake two lots). I do preheat for pizza though. I never use a stone though I have several. I just don't think they are worth it. I don't see the point in feeling guilty about these things. You either take action or take the consequences. I'm sure there are still those that don't think we humans are contributing to global warming but the fact remains indisputable that CO2 is a green house gas and we churn out tonnes of the stuff. But I think you shouldn't preheat and nor use stones because you simply don't need to. Why do something if it doesn't have any benefit?

mac

browndog's picture
browndog

Just wait til I post about the chagrin I feel as a practicing vegetarian, murdering those poor little yeast people! (this is ASOLUTELY a joke, MR. Mac. Don't yell at me.) See, I never did preheat or use a stone til I read that dread book...but I was baking a different kind of bread on the whole. Now I've started mucking about with these stripped-down artisan breads and getting crisp dark crusts that crackle as they cool and some really nice ovenspring on loaves I thought would be pancakes. And so pretty! Enter fretting. So perhaps this is not because of the heating qualities but maybe the spare ingredient list and higher hydration? And I agree completely about the pizza, which is a different animal since I thinned the crust and cranked up the temperature, sans guilt.

weavershouse's picture
weavershouse

I agree with you browndog5 about the long preheats using so much energy and I believe we do contribute to global warming. When I got the last electric bill I wasn't happy about that either. But, I like the way my bread is baking so what to do. Along comes mij.mac with a suggestion I like.
I'm not going to preheat and see what happens. Thanks to both of you.                                                                                 weavershouse

mij.mac's picture
mij.mac

Ah those yeasies deserve it. You should see what they did in their last lives. (That's a joke too. They aren't sentient ,-)

mac

browndog's picture
browndog

I am REALLY REALLY resisting the urge to say "THEY ARE TOO, THE DEAR LITTLE INNOCENTS!"

mij.mac's picture
mij.mac

Not enough. : -)

mac

crumb bum's picture
crumb bum

Hello Bakers

 The reason I don't preheat has nothing to do with being green or saving a few bucks, it is the same as macs.  I have seen no great benifit to the stone preheat thing.  I sometimes wonder if in our desire to mimic the great breads of yore we get stuck thinking that we have to preheat?  I know I was in this mind set for the past couple of years.  If you think about it the bakers of old had no choice.  They built a fire to heat the oven and learned to use this hot oven to get the maximun out of it.  Commercial bakers are in the same boat baking hundreds of loaves a day.  I wonder what the French would have come up with if they would have had our ovens temp control?  I read about this method of not heating the oven  but sort of dismissed it because that is not how the pros do it.  Since dedicating this year of baking to thinking outside the box I realize that there is a whole lot I don't know.  This has sort of re-energized my baking.  This is not a magic bullet to great bread, just another way to do it.

Da Crumb Bum 

mij.mac's picture
mij.mac

Good man. That's when you know you're learning. You can't put anything new into a full box.
mac

ehanner's picture
ehanner

So crumb bum, how do you plan the second loaf oven time on a sheet pan? Are your french bread crusts crispy? And finally do you make any formula changes that help with what I'm guessing would be a smaller oven spring? In thinking about the concept, it seems like you might want to use slightly lower hydration levels to keep the dough from spreading out during the time the oven is getting up to temp, or am I wrong about this?

I don't have any aluminum sheet pans. I do have some steel non-stick cookie sheets that aren't as thick as the aluminum I have seen. This reminds me of the "challenge everything" attitude I have tried to instill in my children and apparently have forgotten myself.

Has anyone tried a "No-Preheat-No-Knead"?

mij.mac's picture
mij.mac

Yes that's what I do all the time. I don't make pot bread, I use a basic 65-85 hydration, lean dough and do a little folding after a + 1hr rest. I bake either free-form or in pans.

mac

Susanmarie's picture
Susanmarie

Hi, Andrew. 

The first bread I learned to make was cuban bread, which is a very mild bread that takes not as long as traditional bread.  After forming the loaves and placing on parchment-lined baking sheets, I let rest 10 min. then slash, spritz and place in cool oven.  Then I turn the heat on to 425-450 for 35-45 min.  The final rise happens in the oven as it warms.    I usually allow the second batch to proof normally while the cuban bakes and make regular hearth bread with it since it will have had the normal proofing and gone into a preheated oven.  It is a way for me to preheat the oven and not waste the energy I use to preheat.  I just got a stone, so haven't thought of using it for this bread, and I probably wouldn't. I will probably preheat my stone while the cuban is baking, but bake the cuban on a parchment-lined sheet anyway.  I have not tried this with higher-hydration breads, only the pan cubano.  Good luck!

 Susan

crumb bum's picture
crumb bum

Hey Andrew

I have handled making 2 batches a couple of different ways.  The first way had me putting sheet pans with dough on two shelves at the same time.  I then had to play musical shelves to keep the top and bottoms from getting to dark.  This does work but requires a little more supervision.  The other way is bake as described on pan in middle of oven.  I turn off the oven and let sit an extrta 10 minutes with door cracked.  I also did this when I baked on a stone and preheated.  It gets rid of a little more moisture and give me that shiny crumb.  I then carefully put more water on the oven floor put dough in turn on to 525 and bake like the first.  The oven will have cooled to around 300 or so after the door being open.  This does not seem to make any difference though.  Bake times do not increase much for either batch.

  As for the crust, I have not done the dutch oven thing but I have to imagine that the crust on a bread made this way would be crisper than mine.  I mostly make a version of Hammelmans Miche pointe a calliere pg 164.  At around 80% hydration by the time it cools the crust is not what I would call crackling crisp.  My ciabattas made this way do crackle during cooling but soften slightly after cooling.  I have also noticed that breads baked near the rim of my sheet pans are a little lighter at their bases.  the sides shield the heat a little.  I sometimes turn them upside down tho finish them.

As for hydration and oven spring I have not changed hydration using this method.  My loaves do not seem to spread out any more than the stone method.  As for oven spring I have been thinking what exactly is the difference between traditional oven spring on a hot stone and the no preheat method?  Both cause the yeast to multiply rapidly until 140 causing the loaf to spring up.  My oven heats pretty quickly,  the bread does not just sit there forever and rise a little.  The spring happens in the first 10 minutes just like traditional methods.

I would give the steel pans a try you could double them up if you think they are to thin.  I know you don't want to waste time feeding and nurturing a dough only to have it turn into a door stop.  I suggest making a little test dough, you would not even need to make a preferment I would think a straight dough would be fine for this. 

Da Long Winded Crumb Bum   

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Thanks Crumb Bum I appreciate your reply. The truth for me is I have learned so much since I started learning to bake and finding this site that everything is still swirling around while I try to understand the concepts. I avoided baking for a long time as I learned to cook gourmet for the family. I'm not sure why but I guess I thought I could buy pretty good bread from local shops where I live in Wisconsin. Now that I have started to discover what really good bread is all about and buy a few masters books and start paying attention to the experts and trying to turn my oven into a thermal battery, along comes "no preheat". I have a batch of Thom Leonard as modified by mountaindog in ferment now that I was going to bake in my La Cloche. I think I'll try this afternoon to do it your way. At the very least I can stop preheating my oven for what is sometimes all afternoon as I wait for my sourdough to rise. I haven't gotten good enough at predicting how long my final proof will take with natural wild yeast so I tend to have loooong preheats. I'll let you know how it goes.

 Eric

 

andrew_l's picture
andrew_l

Thanks crumb bum and others for these really useful replies. I've used heated oven / stone over the past few years, and the NYT cast iron casserole more recently, both with great success. But the idea of the unheated oven really appeals - the amount of energy wassted heating up an empty oven and an empty casserole is appalling really! I shall try this approach and hope it works as well for my fairly wet sourdough as it seems to for several people here. Is it necessary to slash the loaf with this method? It is at this point that my loaves have a tendency to spread a little - they rise enough with oven spring for this not to be a problem, but I am nervous of the "spread" continuing before the oven is hot enough to "set" the loaf!!
many thanks for the detailed replies,Andrew

mij.mac's picture
mij.mac

Hi Andrew,I can only speak for my experience with wet dough and a cold start but I've been very happy with it over the last few years but I only do ciabatta at high hydration, my other loaves are at around 65%. Some ovens only take a few minutes to get to temp anyway so preheating isn't such a big deal as far as energy consumption goes. You should just see how it goes. If it doesn't work with your oven just go back to doing what you know works.
mac

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Today is a day I will remember for a long time. Yesterday I knew because I read it everywhere that a big thermal stone was helping me make better bread. I had accepted that a long preheat was the price to pay for good performance. Boy was I wrong. To be fair I had the good fortune to catch mountain dogs comments about folding 4 times helping her rise and resting before forming in the basket so maybe this is a combination of changes helping the outcome somewhat. Bottom line is I made the nicest looking boule of Thom Leonard/mountaindog I have produced thus far. The final proof was spectacular for a sourdough loaf with a pinch of instant for good luck and the oven rise is much better than I have been able to achieve in a cloche or on the stone. The crumb is pretty holey for this formula and the crust was not to thick. The bottom wasn't burned which I thought might happen with my thin cookie pans. All in all it baked at 450 for 25 minutes then I turned it down to 400 for another 15 at which point the internal temp was 205 degrees.

Thom Leonard Mountaindog mods formula with minor changes by me.

3 c King Arthur AP

1 c King Arthur WW

1 Heaping T Rye

1 Heaping T Wheat Germ

1/4c active white starter

Pinch Instant Yeast

1-1/2 to 3/4 C room temp water

1-1/2t salt

1 Tblsp Molasses blended in water

Combine everything, rest 10 min. then hand mix to work the dough smooth. shape to a loose ball and place in a large oiled bowl and cover with plastic bag. Allow to ferment at room temp overnight or longer (18 hrs). During ferment phase I folded and flipped the dough over every 3 or 4 hours after I woke and once the night before. After the last rise I turned the dough out on the counter and did a stretch and fold in both directions and shaped it into a boule sealing the bottom edges as mountaindog suggested yesterday. Rest for 10 minutes and place into floured banneton for final proof. sprinkle wheat bran in banneton and on steel sheet pan and transferred nicely risen dough to pan.

Place dough into cold oven and set temp at 450degrees for 30 minutes. After 25 Min. I decided to lower temp to 400 since the loaf was starting to brown nicely. Rotate 180 degrees for even baking and placed Polner probe in loaf. When temp hit 205 removed from oven. Unbelievable!

This is a 100% preferment like the No Knead concept and the dough is well hydrated. Today I made it slightly more like a medium slack dough and it proofed perfectly and took a good single slash at the girth without deflating. I feel like the dough handled better because of the extra folding, thanks mountaindog. It definitely rose better and oven spring was way way better than ever before. No preheat, I just can't get over it!

I'll try and post some images I took so you might see my green loaf.

browndog's picture
browndog

that's beautiful and I'm convinced. Did you do any steaming? Going to try this method and your recipe next bake. Revolution.

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I had thought about tossing a little water in on the bottom as I think Crumb Bum does but (I forgot) decided not to. This would have been a success for me if either the rise or the baking had worked well. I was elated that my new found folding had such a profound effect on the rise. I've made maybe 20 of these over the last couple months and never had this nice of expansion during final proof. I was using the smaller size coiled banneton and it proofed over the top by 1/2 inch. The top image is just out of the basket.

 

crumb bum's picture
crumb bum

Hello All

Andrew, yes I do slash my dough as I would normally.  E Hanner nice looking loaf.  Isn't it hard to believe this really works as well as it does.  I bet you were a little nervous looking through the porthole of your oven waiting for the magic to happen.  I figure if a few of you were to give this a try and it did not work I would be known forever as Da Crack Pot.  These are three 70% loaves I baked a couple of weeks ago.  They give a pretty good view of the top bottom and crumb.  Good Luck in all of your future unheated bakes.

Da Crumb Bum 

ehanner's picture
ehanner

My hat's off to you Crumb Bum and others here who challenged the conventional wisdom. This should percolate to the top of the site and become a feature technique. I mean just stop doing things that cost you money and waste energy with no benefit.

 

Thanks,

 

Eric

mnkhaki's picture
mnkhaki

Crumb bum... What do you use for scoring? Breads look beautiful!

crumb bum's picture
crumb bum

Hey Mnkhaki

I use a double sided razor blade mounted on a small wooden dowel for scoring.  These are thinner than the single edgers.  I go at a slight angle about 1/4 deep.  I was at Grand Central Bakery a while back watching the slashing and loading of a whole coonveyer of bread.  Guess what they used to slash?  A box knife like they sell at hardware stores!  Sorry it took so long for me to answer you.

Da Crumb Bum

browndog's picture
browndog

 that's never seen a real bone and so stays pretty keen, unlike most of my knives. The curved blade just glides along the dough without poking or snagging, and is really easy to angle, it slices the dough as if it were, well, a flap of skin...yuck.

andrew_l's picture
andrew_l

Well, the two posts above really do show excellent loaves - so much for "conventional wisdom"!! I shall start off some  dough today and bake it unheated. I'm not sure if I'll be able to post pictures though!!!
Andrew

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I just finished a pair of Sourdoladys Deluxe Sourdough breads using a no preheat method again. I made Batards following her recipe to the letter except for the baking part. After final proofing/slashing, in they went to a cold oven on a steel cookie sheet layered with parchment paper. Set to 400 degrees for 20 minutes then reduced to 375 another 15 minutes with internal of 205 and out they came. I did toss a little water in before I started. I would say the crust isn't as crispy as I usually prefer but the recipe calls for 3 T Butter which would soften it up a little. Otherwise the bread was perfect in every way.

All in all the oven was only on for 35 minutes. There might be some compromise in baking this way but it's lost on me. I am done with preheats and stones except for pizza which likes to be crispy.

 

Eric

crumb bum's picture
crumb bum

Hello All

I am glad you all have had success with this method.  I wish I could take credit but the credit goes to Ed Okie http://www.breadbakers.com/archives/digests/v103n011.txt  The article is called "cold oven start follow up".  I can't say I will never use my stone and preheat for bread baking again, however since trying this in early December 06 I have not used any other method.  Bake'm if you Got'm.

Da Crumb Bum 

andrew_l's picture
andrew_l

Well, I baked a loaf yesterday in a cold oven (it started cold and ended hot!!) with great success. When I baked following the NYT method, I'd got used to giving the dough jsut the one stretch and fold, but with the loaf I made yesteday I went back to using the Dan Lepard method of gentle turn and fold every 10 minuters for the first hour, then 4 stretch and folds at 30 minute intervals and finally to shape it tucking under very well to get a good tight surface tension. Left it to proof in a linen lined basket, turned onto a baking sheet, slashed it and put in the oven with a tray of boiling water on the oven floor. It spread a bit, but rose fantastically well - the scoring opened out superbly and altogether, I am so amazed and impressed - I shall certainly be doing this again!  The oven spring was different from when it is on a stone though - it didn't rise up at the edges in a perky sort of way - the bottom of the loaf stayed flat and the spring was from there up. But the volume of the loaf was much the biggest I've had so far. 50% white bread flour, 40% wholemeal and 10% rye - big holes, open crumb, excellent flavour.
I think the two methods I shall use now are this, and thee heated casserole. The stone will be reserved for pizza!
Andrew 

titus's picture
titus

Crumb bun:

Does the cold oven start also work for whole wheat sandwich type loaves?

RFMonaco's picture
RFMonaco

Put the dash between bread and bakers in the URL or you will never get there!

Found out by Googling "v103n011.txt"

http://www.bread-bakers.com/archives/digests/v103n011.txt

andrew_l's picture
andrew_l

I'd like to post pictures of my cold-oven sourdough - but how?? I've a digital camera - but little technical nous!!!
Andrew

JIP's picture
JIP

Upload your images to photobucket http://photobucket.com/ cut and oaste the URL that is provided where it says "URL link" under the image into the box that comes up and says "Image URL" when you click on the little tree symbol above and tadaa an image will come up.

crumb bum's picture
crumb bum

Hey Titus

I have not tried this method on any breads baked in a loaf pan.  I have been meaning to do this.  My initial thought is that it would work much the same way as bread placed on a sheet pan???  I will give this a try soon and post a pic and comments.

Da Crumb Bum

browndog's picture
browndog

I never thought twice about preheating before I stumbled onto Hamelman's book...seemed absolutely irrelevant to do so. In fact I told myself the cold start was probably an advantage if the dough was a little underproofed. My breads were almost invariably sandwich type whole grain/white combinations baked in pans, but my freeform loaves came out fine as well, though I never made anything approaching the hydration of these artisan loaves. My breads baked at ranges between 350-400 degrees for 40-50 minutes. I would not have felt at all compelled to begin preheating except I assumed as we were all being told that it was fundamental to artisan bread.

browndog's picture
browndog

These are based pretty closely on a Peter Reinhart sandwich-type bread. I set the oven at 350, slashed the loaves, popped them in for 50 minutes, and there they are. Whatever faults they have can't be laid at the oven door, I believe.

 

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