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janij's picture
janij

WFO Pics

We fired the oven today.  I made tortillas while the oven was heating, then pizza.  I still need to get the deck a little hotter.  But the pizzas were good.  I used Reinhart's Roman dough and the Neo-Neapolitan dough.  The I baked 3 kinds of bread.  I made Hamelma's Wheat bread with multigrain soaker.  I used different grain than he does.  Just want I had on hand.  Then I made a barley bread.  It is a spin off of Hamelman's Rustic bread.  The boules could use a little work on the scoring.  I know.  But it was 95 outside and I was trying to hurry loading all 6 loaves.  The last bread is BBA Sourdough Potato cheddar and chive bread.  We love that stuff.  The coloring on the potato bread is a little weak.  It was in the front of the oven.  I need to work on laoding so I can get more in the oven and in a better location.  But all in all I think it went well.  Thanks to all the other Woodies out there for their input and help along the way.


http://www.flickr.com/photos/38926746@N02/

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

janij said: "The coloring on the potato bread is a little weak."


Hi, Janij,


I don't have much experience using wood-fired ovens, but I think the coloring of the crust on all the loaves doesn't feature enough caramelization.  More steam at the beginning of the bake, with the opening to the oven closed, for maybe 10-15 minutes would help, I think.  That should ensure that enough starch gelatinization occurs to allow amylase an easier time of converting starch to sugar.


Without enough steam, the loaves form a hard skin early in the bake that often limits the caramelization of the crust.  If you are interested, there's a thread here that goes into this with more detail, using a conventional home oven: 


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/12260/too-much-oven-spring


By the way, nice shaping on the loaves, and the pizza looks dangerously good.


--Dan DiMuzio

janij's picture
janij

That is another issue I need to figure out.  I use steam in my regular oven with good results.  But I am not sure how to get steam in the wood fire oven.  I tried spraying the top of the loaves.  I do mop the bricks but I don't want to hit it with too much water or it will cool the bricks too much.  Maybe I just need to spray the walls before I put the door on.  Maybe some of the other WFO owners have some tips.


Thanks for the compliments on the shaping and the pizza.  It sure was good pizza too.  Esp with the homemade mozzarella.  I saved some of the whey to use in the white sandwich bread I am baking today.

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

As I said, I'm not a very experienced wood-fired baker.  Still, while some of the techniques can vary from baking in a modern deck oven, the priciples are more or less the same.  In fact, the steam injection that's usually a feature on a modern deck oven is there to reproduce what originally happened in a wood-fired oven.


I think the mopping is supposed to be key, but others here who have baked a long time with their wood-fired oven will know more about creating steam and holding it for the necessary time, how to vent it, etc.  If you haven't yet obtained the book by Scott & Wing about baking in a wood-fired oven, I think you should ASAP.


One thing another wood-fired oven enthusiast told me was that loading up the entire oven floor with bread -- however many loaves that would be -- had the effect of lowering the temperature briefly and creating enough steam from the dough to make the steam linger after mopping the floor.  Lowering the temperature by 25-50 degrees for just a few minutes at the start of the bake is a GOOD thing -- it gives the loaves time to expand, and the steam will gelatinize the starches, as I mentioned before.  I think your bricks or stones have enough thermal mass to recover their heat in just a few minutes.


But ask whoever you've been talking to before how to generate steam effectively in your oven.  I just don't have more than a few days experience there, and I can't comment on the subject in any authoritative way.

ClimbHi's picture
ClimbHi

Steam in a WFO is a bit controversial. If you get too "enthusiastic", you can set up thermal shock in your bricks, causing them to crack or fail prematurely. I understand that Alan Scott actually began to recommend that WFO users refrain from steaming for this reason.


That said, As Dan implied, if you're baking bread (i.e., the fire is raked out), a full oven will produce a surprising amount of steam just from the loaves. If you must bake less than a full load, I've had success using a garden sprayer (new, clean and never used for chemicals) set to as fine a spray pattern as possible, misting the chamber a few times in the first several minutes of the bake. Mist after the loaves are loaded, and close the door tightly immediately after steaming. Note that you DO NOT spray the walls or floor directly, just direct the mist into the oven over the loaves. If the spray is fine enough, and the oven is hot, the spray never touches the masonry -- it just turns to steam before it can hit the walls.


Mopping the floor really doesn't help much -- the mop shouldn't be wet enough to make much steam, and any steam it does produce escapes in a few seconds. It's also important to make sure your door seals well. It doesn't have to be airtight, but there shouldn't be any appreciable gaps between it and the oven's door frame.


ClimbHi
Pittsburgh, PA

janij's picture
janij

I am thinking I just need to work on loading.  The 6 loaves was maybe not enough to fill the oven.  Plus I think it should have been a little hotter.  If you look at the pictures the wheat loaves in the back got the most color.  The white boules were okay and the potato long loaves in the front got the least color.  The ones in the front were really close to the door.  Like I said I need to work on loading.  I may try the garden sprayer.


Do you pre fire your oven the day before?  We baked the tortillas, then pizza, then bread.  We intitially fired for about 1 1/2 hrs before the pizza.  I cooked the tortillas while it was initially firing.  I still don't think I am getting it hot enough.  Then after the pizza we respread the fire and added another loag and let that burn about 30-45 min.  The cleaned and closed the door for about 20 min then loaded the bread.  What do you think ClimbHi.  Got any suggestions for me on the fire?

lukemansell's picture
lukemansell

... for a conventional oven that may translate to a WFO: put a loaf tin in the oven when you start the fire with some largish stones in it. Then, when you load the loaves, pour water onto the stones. This should protect the tiles?


 


 

shimpiphany's picture
shimpiphany

do you have a wood door?  i soak mine before baking to prevent scorching the door and to provide steam in the oven.  it seems to work well.

janij's picture
janij

I have a wood door but we covered had it covered in sheet metal like the plans from Alan Scott recommended.  So I am wondering about the idea of putting a wet towel on the inside of the door then putting the door on.

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

filled with some wet towels..my door gets pretty sooty and would not hold enough towel to make plenty of steam.  In the pan the towels can be rolled thicker so they would probably let off more steam.    


 


 

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

There are directions at the http://fornobravo.com  site on how to properly steam your oven.  They say you should steam your oven first before the bread goes in and then again after it's loaded.  Spraying water into your oven is supposed to evaporate into a mist before it can ever hit onto the walls so don't worry about cracking the walls etc.  If using a mop go lightly with water wring it out good when removing the ash...it cools the floor down.  The natural convection created by the dome shaped ovens circulates the steam around.  Also opening and closeing your door is going to release the steam .  If you have a wooden door...some people soak those!  There is a lot of great forum/photos and discussion at this site and it would be very helpful!  Everyone's oven is a little different.  The heat needs to settle/even out into your oven before baking..sweep it out close the door and wait for the temp to drop and settle into the floors, walls, ceilings evenly...I think your oven needs to be hotter for better browning/carmelization on your loaves.  I've had the same thing happen when my oven wasn't hot enough...this all takes practice in knowing your oven...I'm still practicing and learning about how my oven reacts.  So these are just some suggestions that might help!


Sylvia

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I have precisely no experience with WFO's, but wouldn't the same methods used for electric ovens work? For example, couldn't you pre-heat a cast iron skillet (optionally filled with lava rocks) in the oven and pour boiling water into it right after loading the loaves?


Max Poilâne's oven's have a recess in the floor which holds a metal receptacle into which water is poured just before loading his miches. He also mops the oven deck. Here is a You Tube video of his whole process. 


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4RiJs1a92U&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fbonneau%2Esiteparc%2Efr%2Fforums%2Fviewtopic%2Ephp%3Ff%3D45%26t%3D33786%26sid%3Dd18f18579...


The oven steaming method starts at about 2:30 minutes into the video.


David

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

I think I have seen that video...but those are a little different type ovens they have the fire is below and not inside the ovens.  So many different kinds of WFO.  Some people actually just squirt with a hose into the ovens..spray bottle of water and the mopping out of the ash creates a nice steam that stays in and just circulates with the convection action...sort of like a giant la cloche the bread also steams the oven...There are brick bread ovens that are small and fire underneath and then are bread/pizza ovens with fire in the oven. 


Sorry, David..I didn't answer that very well.  Got distracted for a moment..you could put an iron pan in and you probably wouldn't have to heat it first..it's going to get really hot on it's own just by leaving it in the oven a little earlier.  You could add the steam this way  The steams going to stay in because there is no venting, vents.  The chimney/flute if there is one is made in the front of the oven and when the door goes on the chimney/flute opening is on the outside of the oven.  Not like a fireplace where the chimney is inside the firepit. 


Sylvia 

janij's picture
janij

I think I may try a cast iron skillet next time to create more steam.  I also think I need to get it hotter.  I was pretty happy with the results considering this was the second time we have baked in it period.  We even threw a stew in it over night.  The stew turned out pretty good.  the chicken we put in there with it weren't done.  But oh well.  There are bound to be casualties along the way.  But it is fun and challenging trying to get all the bread dough ready to bake on schedule with the oven!

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

The heat is stored into the depth of the walls of your oven.  The saying... more  fire thats put into your oven the more you can take out.  The longer you want to bake the longer the firing of your oven.  The loaves are going to remove the heat and then more will come into the oven.  The leveling out of the oven is important to let the walls and floor absorb the heat evenly..or your going to have a hot floor than burns the loaf bottom and only lightly browns the top.  The pizza ovens are so deeply insulted that they can be 1000F and you can lay your hand on the outside of the oven and it is cool.  

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

Something I saw them do at the San Francisco Baking Institute was keep a cast iron skillet in the BACK of the oven, and after loading the bread (and maybe before?) they would use a funnel attached to some soldered copper tubing to deliver water from the doorway all the way to the back where the iron skillet was.  This seemed to work.


No offense intended to David, but I think boiling the water may be unnecessary.  Room temp water vaporizes upon contact with a 500-600 degree piece of iron, and there's less risk of scalding yourself.


--Dan DiMuzio

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Dan.


No offense taken.


I can see your point regarding boiling vs. room temp. water.


If you don't mind my asking, in this regard, what is the advantage of using ice cubes, which some have recommended?


Jeff Hamelman makes a distinction between "humidifying" the oven (which he suggests doing with ice cubes before loading) and "steaming" the oven (which he says to do with boiling water poured into a skillet after loading). 


I understand the advantages of having a "wet" oven environment at the time the loaves are loaded and for the first part of the bake. I just don't get Hamelman's distinction and why use ice cubes for one and boiling water for the other. Is it just that the ice cubes will generate water vapor at a more gradual pace, do you think?


David

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

Well . . . I'd have to ask Jeffrey about that one.  Maybe I will some time.


I get a little nervous about the idea of reaching down to load a range oven in a small kitchen, and taking things from merely awkward right up to dangerous with boiling water.


Jeffrey's one of the most skilled and knowledgable bakers I've ever met, so I can't say he's wrong.  I guess I'm more cautious.  And I'm more clumsy, so I think about worst case scenarios.  That's not hard to imagine when most kitchens aren't built for safety.


As far as the ice cubes go, David, my guess is about the same as yours. 


You know, all this fuss in making steam at home makes me want to go back to using a cloche.  You're limited there in size, shape, and oven capacity, but the crust is usually wonderful, and there's very little danger.


My concern for safety is why I stopped making sourdough pretzels at school.  I trust myself to do them. They were great, but, even in a professional bakery, when you're surrounded by 12 very amateur students (think generation Y+, checking their text messages or ring-tones as they work), the chance of just one of them splashing a drop of the lye in their eyes made me realize I was crazy to do it.  I've read that this stuff, if splashed in the eye, just keeps penetrating, and can't be completely rinsed out.  Permanent, irreversible damage.  For a good pretzel?


There's some things you can't teach properly in one lesson.


--Dan DiMuzio

proth5's picture
proth5

As "someone" instructed me (can't remember exactly who...) I tried baking my standard levain baguettes with the "ice cubes to moisturize the oven" method (plus normal steam) and then the same formula with only using my normal streaming method.  My normal steaming method is to pour warm or room temperature water into a hot pan in the bottom of the oven and to give a quick spray with a small pressure sprayer to the part of my Hearthkit unemcumbered by bread - including the sides.  (This "someone" always responds to my questions by sending me off with homework like this...)


I can't say that with my oven, my hands, my altitude, my humidity (Denver, CO) that the ice cubes did anything for me.  I had to open the oven twice as much, they were less than easy to get into the oven and didn't produce any visible benefit.  It could be that when you are working at 10% or so relative humidity, although a few ice cubes creates additional moisture, it isn't enough to reach the benefit threashold. (It is alsoe very rapidly vented in a gas oven.)  Obviously a good pour of water into the oven and some spraying is making a difference.


Since I am both an avid gardener and a lover of nice tools, I use my metal Haws watering can (without the rose) to deliver that pour of water.  The long spout delivers the water precisely (and safely away from both my hands and my oven window.)  My little pressure sprayer cost about three bucks and does yeoman's  work around the house anyway.


For my hands, this just seems easier than whangling a cloche over my breads, and I think it is as safe as a process can be.  Mr. Hamelman aludes (in his book) to wearing his beekeeping gloves when doing this - we all use what we have.) Although buying a Haws watering can (or beekeeping gloves) just for bread baking would be a bit of a stretch.


The steaming discussion rages on...

LindyD's picture
LindyD

I wondered about using boiling water too, David, and did a quick search.  I found the following information at The School of Physics, University of New South Wales:



Why is it possible to heat water above its boiling temperature? Let's talk only about pure water, and only water at or close to atmospheric pressure. At the surface between air and water, or between steam and water, water boils at 100 °C. Water boils at 100 °C if there is already a bubble of steam (or air) present. But in the absence of bubbles, water can be heated above 100 °C. There are two reasons.


First, to make a stable bubble, a lot of water molecules in the same small area must form steam. This is improbable. Second, it takes extra energy to form the bubble itself: energy to push the water out of the way, and energy to make the surface between water and steam. Once a bubble forms (a process called nucleation), it is easy to increase its size. So the superheated water nearby evaporates very quickly, producing a large volume of steam.


Smooth containers do not have bubbles of air clinging to their sides. Rough walled or scratched containers may hold microscopic bubbles in their cracks. These become nucleii for boiling. Even a crack that is fully filled with water can be a boiling nucleus because it reduces the required area of the water-vapour surface.


Some quantitative details


The latent heat of vapourisation of water is L = 2.23 MJ/kg. This means that it takes 2,230,000 Joules of heat to evaporate 1 kg of water at 100 °C and at normal atmospheric pressure. (One kilogramme of water is about one litre.)


The specific heat capacity of water is c = 4.2 kJ/kg. This means that it takes 4,200 Joules of heat to raise the temperature of 1 kg of water by 1 °C.


Suppose that we heat one kilogram of water from 100 °C (its normal boiling temperature) to 101 °C, i.e. it is now superheated by 1 °C. When it begins to boil, it will very quickly cool to 100 °C, and the heat liberated turns water into steam. Cooling this kg of water by 1 °C gives 4.2 kJ, which is enough to evaporate c/L = 4200/2230000 kg of water. This is only 1.9 millilitres of water, which does not sound very much, but it turns into 3 litres of steam. Those three litres of steam are created inside the hot water, quite suddenly, so the water is ejected violently from the container.


dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder


Hi, Lindy.


I'm struggling to connect the physics to the alternative methods of steaming an oven and, let's not forget, baking better bread. 


I'm writing up some thoughts on different steaming methods which I'll post sooner or later.


David


LindyD's picture
LindyD

Good morning, David,

In the context of adding water at boiling temperature to a superhot pan (as opposed to cold or room temperature water), my take from the University of New South Wales info is that doing so superheats the water and creates more steam.


Any physicists on board?

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

This sounds like a job for Steve B . . . he ain't a physicist, but chemistry will do . . .


He's faster than a Swiss particle accelerator . . . stronger than the earth's magnetic force . . . able to decipher the value of "pi" without rounding . . . LOOK!  Here he comes!

SteveB's picture
SteveB

Yikes!  What an intro!  :)


I'm not a physicist but I'll give it a shot (any real physicists out there are encouraged to chime in).


Superheating water is the phenomenon whereby water is heated to above 100C at 1 atm without boiling.  This can occur when a lack of nucleation sites within the water or the water's container prevents the formation of steam bubbles within the water.  Although this phenomenon is real, it doesn't really come into play when baking.  The mere act of throwing water onto a hot pan provides enough turbulence for nucleation of steam bubbles to occur.


But does the temperature of the water added to the hot pan really matter?  For water to become steam, two things must happen; 1) enough heat must be added to the water to raise it to its boiling point and 2) additional heat must be added to convert the liquid water to water vapor.  The heat needed to accomplish the first task is defined by water's specific heat capacity, stated above as 4.2 kJ/kg.  The heat needed to accomplish the second task is defined by water's latent heat of vaporization, stated, also above, as 2.23 MJ/kg.


Let's assume we have 1 kg of water at 25C (room temperature).  To get that water to 100C (the boiling point) we would need (100-25) x 4.2 = 315 kJ of heat energy.  To convert that 1 kg of water at the boiling point to 1 kg of steam, we would need 2.23 MJ.  What this tells us is that it takes about 7 times more heat energy just to vaporize water at the boiling point than it does to raise the temperature of the water from room temperature to the boiling point.  As can be seen from this, it makes little difference from a heat utilization standpoint whether one uses ice cubes, room temperature water or boiling water to produce oven steam.


Where a difference can be seen is when one uses a home steaming device to inject steam.  Here, since the water is already in the vapor phase, no additional heat from the oven is required.  The only oven heat lost is when the oven door is opened and closed.         

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

No more boiling the water before pouring it over the lava rocks!


Thanks, Steve!


David

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

I preheated my pan and lava rocks.  I poured room temperature water over the rocks into the pan...it just sort of fizzled out and didn't make any noticable steam...maybe I didn't have the rocks and pan preheated long enough!  When I tried it with boiling water it worked much better!  Let me know how it works for you...please!


Sylvia

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I preheat the pan with the lava rocks at 500F for at least 45 and preferably 60 minutes.


I'm going to try room temperature water next bake. I'll surely let you know. If it "fizzles," we can blame Steve. ;-)  But I expect it to work fine. The California Supreme Court recently struck down Proposition 666, passed by the voters of this great State last year, which had amended the State Constitution to repeal the laws of physics.


David

SteveB's picture
SteveB

Sylvia, please note that my analysis was based solely upon energy utilization.  It doesn't address the issue of the speed at which the steam is formed.  Because there is some period of time associated with raising the temperature of the water to the boiling point before it can be vaporized, using boiling water will produce steam faster than using ice or room temperature water.  Hence the burst of steam when using boiling water.  As to whether this steam burst is more effective than slightly more slowly generated steam at gelatinizing the starches in the crust and preventing the crust from setting prematurely, I'll leave that one for Dan to field (back atcha, big guy!).   


SteveB


http://www.breadcetera.com


 

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Hi Steve, David....I knew you would have a good time so I figured what the heck..I 'm pretty sure my preheating wasn't long enough...I was useing a sheet pan so I could have room to bake and place the lava rock filled iron pan underneath.  So I did not pre-heat nearly as long as I do when useing my stones.  My stones cover the whole oven shelf.  I have two stones that fit side by side..useing one stone doesn't give me very much baking floor.  I had the oven at 480 convection.  I know it was under an hour preheating.  I still haven't tried placing the pan/stones above the stone shelf.  That's going to be a little trickier than tossing it on the lower level.  If I still can't get steam useing the room temp. water and a long pre-heating oven...I'll just have to take my Lava Rocks back to Home Depot and tell them these must have come from Hawaii and have that curse on them!


David, you might make a note of the pre-heating times..with room temp. water and with boiling water and please include the oven temperature too!  You never know 007 might need this info : )


 Sylvia

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

You will probably get the same results by just getting a large spray bottle of water aiming at the back walls of your oven and spraying.  It is supposed to explode into steam and never really even gets a chance to hit the walls!  It's a lot easier...the pan is also absorbing heat from your oven.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

You lose heat every time you open the oven to spray it.


The pan does absorb heat, and it releases heat. Like the baking stone, the cast iron skillet acts as a heat buffer to help the ambient temperature hold constant.


As Lee says, "That's my story, and I'm sticking to it." ;-)


David

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Hi David, your theory sounds good!  I have baked pan loaves in my oven the next morning when the oven is fired up long enough the day before....  But I'll stick with the spraying or how about putting damp rags into a sheet pan!  I can't get the link to work right but check out Jim Wills/Mary G. Bakery bakes on at http://www.fornobravo.com  on search type in 'steam in brick oven' he suggest spraying or the wet rags in the sheet pan.

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Edit to link...  http://www.fornobravo.com

klmeat's picture
klmeat

I'd tried water in a pan , ice cubes & spraying the oven & the easiest & safest is a steam cleaning machine for home use

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

Can you show us a snapshot of your steam cleaner?  Is this a practical thing to use in a kitchen?

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

SteveB has a video of how he uses a steam cleaner. Here's the link:


http://www.breadcetera.com/?p=85


David

ehanner's picture
ehanner

From the standpoint of comparing a inside home oven and an outdoor wood fired oven, I make these observations.



  1. We use water to create steam in the home oven. This is supposed to keep the dough somewhat gelatinous so it can expand for a better "Spring". Also there are some loaves that develop a shine on the crust or bubbles.

  2. Every bread book author I have read I believe, says to use an amount of water that will boil off in a few (10 or so) minutes OR to remove the steam device. This allows the bread the opportunity to dry on the crust.

  3. The Wood Fired Oven of olden days I don't believe had any consideration for steam. If so I haven't seen any articles indicating how it was done. I have always been under the impression that the moisture in the dough provides ample steam to moisten the environment (if it really needs to be moistened).

  4. SteveB, Susan from SD, myself and others who use a covered method find we can do just as well without any additional water for steam, if the dough is baked in a closely covered environment. (Steve and I both use a steam generator now and then but I think it's overkill).

  5. Unless you folks with a WFO have a way to dump the humid air after partially baking your dough, you probably are baking in a humid environment all the way through the baking time. Are the crusts soft after cooling?


Recently DSnyder has been creating large billowing clouds of steam like the Nuke Plant down the road using lava rocks. With all of the electronics in a modern oven, is that a good thing? Is the spring really better than if you cover and use NO additional water? What ever the answer is, and there is certainly room for personal taste here, I don't think my experience shows it matters much. I do know my oven door window is cracked and it's a discontinued part.Grrr


Eric


 

Susan's picture
Susan

Eric, Mini and I were wondering if the 10-12 minutes of steaming is aimed at yeasted dough as opposed to sourdough.  My sourdough rises for about 18 minutes under a bowl, so I don't remove the bowl until then.


Any thoughts?


Susan from San Diego

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I have no experience with WFO's, but, from what I've read, they work like convection ovens to circulate the hot air, and, if closed, would contain whatever moisture evaporates from the loaves. And least some bakers at moisture before loading the WFO, but I don't know how much difference this really makes.


I can't say I see a big difference between using the bowl to cover the loaf and steaming the oven as I currently do. I decide which method to use according to convenience. If I am baking breaqs that will easily fit under a cover I have (bowl or roaster), that's easier. If I am baking 2 or 3 boules or 3-4 baguettes, I steam the oven.


I am frankly mystified by the difference between Susan's results and mine. She gets gorgeous boules with amazing oven spring and well-caramelized crusts covering the bread for 18 of 30 (?) minutes. When I've covered a boule for 15 minutes or more, I get an unattractively shiny crust with less browning than I like.


Is this because Susan keeps the oven super hot as long as the bread is covered? Could the size or shape of the bowl make a difference? Any other ideas?


David

sphealey's picture
sphealey

=== The Wood Fired Oven of olden days I don't believe had any consideration for steam. If so I haven't seen any articles indicating how it was done. ===


Daniel Leader noted that his bakery's brick ovens, built to classic designs, have cast-iron pots hanging inside for creating hot water vapor.  Those ovens are quite large and when I read that I think of something the size of a dutch oven.


In _Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book_ the authors reported trying several systems for creating hot water vapor in their backyard brick oven, including cast iron and copper pipes.  Neither were satisfactory (due to rust dripping from the pipes IIRC) and they eventually replaced them with stainless steel pipes and flash pad.  In retrospect we now know that was the first oven that Alan Scott built, so I imagine it was a good system.


sPh

Edouard's picture
Edouard

Learning a WFO is a passion not a science. Your oven will be different than mine. Different than anybody's. That said ... great pics! And it looks like you're well on your way. Makes me grin all over. 


I'm mopping the deck, and didn't see any discernible difference. I'm in an exceptionally dry climate and steam is hard to come by. Caramelization has been a question as well. But the cast iron pan is a good thought. 


I'm now going to try the wet rag protecting the door, trick. 


More pics as I get better at pics. Bought a FLIP video camera (on sale at Amazon for $49 instead of $149) and hope to post a FLICKR video. 


Good looking product, Janijeane. 

janij's picture
janij

Why thank you so much.  It is a big learning curve but worth it I think.  The flavor you get on the bread is so nice!!  We are going to fire again this weekend.  We have done a test fire or two and think we have some ideas on getting it hotter.  Also i did pick up a small cast iron skillet last weekend, so we will see if that helps.  I am going to try the rag on the door as well.  I guess I need to come up with some breads to bake this weekend besides pizza.  Hate to waste all that heat!!!!

yozzause's picture
yozzause

i'm with you on that one, we have a WFO here at the college, built by construction students, for our hospitality students.


Whenever i fire it up for a pizza session i always make a batch of loaves to go in after the fire comes out.


The floor of the oven is scuffed out with a wet (wrung out ) teatowel  attached to a broom handle and rotated to flick out the ash and dust mostly to leave a nice clean surface for the bread pieces.


The oven will hold 20 to 25 loaves scaled at 500 grams. If loaded quickly and the door closed and kept closed a fair amount of steam vapour is generated. your initial dough piece will loose 10% - 11% of weight in the full process of baking and cooling.


One of the main things that steam is used for is to cushion the dough piece from the initial heat of the oven, steam 100 degrees oven heat 200+ degrees


At home if i want to try to add a steamy  environment to the gas convection oven i use a flat pizza tray on the very bottom of the oven, when i have loaded the dough pieces i pour just a little boiling water into the tray, i dont have to handle or move the tray , i only pour a small amount so that it will have all gone in 5 to 10 minutes.


In the WFO i have not really had to worry as the oven is full and  seems to generate enough vapour of its own. i do open the door  for a minute or two if i want to have a crisper harder crust to allow that moisture to escape.


Just looking at the pics of the pizza cooking i noticed you have a lot more fire than i use, my fire has been pushed right to the sides of the oven and is more glowing embers than flame . it usually takes me 3 hours to get a good bed of embers established but then we have been able to get 40 x 200gram pizzas baked off.


Then its pull out what is left of the embers and  allow the oven to cool for a little while and then in with the bread.


Picture of batch of dark ale and sprouted wheat 50% wholemeal bread     


sorry about the treble up of pics still getting used to putting them on

CanuckJim's picture
CanuckJim

Seems like there are as many opinions, types of gear, methods, etc. concerning steam in the oven as there are about the vagaries, the rights and wrongs, of sourdough, levain, barm, starter.  When you get right down to it, both are pretty simple.


I have to say that steaming a properly built WFO does not risk thermal shock to the bricks or modular components.  If so, why do even the oldest WFOs in Paris have steam injection systems?  How that type of idea gets started, I don't know.  I've steamed an awful lot of ovens, both brick and modular, and never cracked a one.  My AS barrel vault is eight years old now, and I steam it every time I use it for bread; not a crack anywhere.  If thermal shock is a possibility, how about loading a dozen kilo boule at 40F, right from the cooler, onto a 550 F hearth?


If you use high hydration formulas, you will get the best bake with more loaves on the deck, because they will contribute their own amount of steam.


Let's keep it simple.  I use a cheapo pump garden sprayer from Home Depot.  I usually steam the oven before loading, load the loaves, then point the nozzle upward toward the dome and spray until I can actually see a cloud of steam in the oven.  The spray never actually touches the bricks, because it vaporizes too quickly. The door (seals very tight) is put on immediately.  Usually vent the steam halfway through the bake.


Not steaming at all--or enough--will result in poor volume, lack of caramelization, not enough oven spring, poor crust development, tight crumb.  Proper slashing or docking to a depth of about half an inch will contribute to both spring and volume.


CJ