The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Using someone else's oven

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althetrainer's picture
althetrainer

Using someone else's oven

I am on a 9-day vacation and I am loving it.  The only downside of being away from home is that I don't get to bake properly. Obviously, the people who live here don't use their oven much. The first day I got here I noticed the oven a bit on the hot side, especially the top element.  I tried to bake two loaf of sourdough sesame bread using just 350F on the lower rack, thinking I would cover the loafs with tin foil by 10 minutes. In about 6 minutes I smelled burnt! I faced the dilemma of choosing between a burnt loaf or a flat loaf. I thought at least a flat loaf was edible so I opened to the oven and quickly threw a sheet of tin oil over the top. Just that brief moment I saw top crust and sesame seeds were almost black and my heart sunk. My heart sunk even further when I finally took the two loafs out, they had deflated and lost about 25% of their volume. They tasted fine but just looked a bit black top and a bit flat.  I never knew how much I would miss my oven until I had to leave home.  I don't think I can wait another week before baking again.  So I will give this oven another try.  Next time I will decrease the temperature by 25F and keep the food on the lower rack.  What do you think?



PaddyL's picture
PaddyL

I've baked bread in the tiniest of ovens in an apartment hotel several years ago, and in a very primitive gas stove on a farm in Ireland.  The only time I had problems was in that little gas oven, where I had to get down on my knees to light it, and then the tops of the bread never browned, so I turned them over.  Thank God, they didn't deflate on me!  If the bottoms aren't browning, but the tops are burning, then I'd let the bread bake to set the top, then turn them over to continue baking, even if you have to tent them with foil.  Good luck.

althetrainer's picture
althetrainer

Thanks PaddyL! I thought about fliping the loaf too but I just didn't have enough time (about 6 mins) to set the loaf before it began to burn.  I am going to try it again today and I will try Dave's suggestion to use a cookie sheet to block the heat from top. Keeping my fingers crossed.

deblacksmith's picture
deblacksmith

The top burner should not be on during the normal oven bake cycle.  (either electric or gas.)  This is the broiler element and should not come on except during the preheat cycle if a normal oven.  Some of the new ovens -- solid state control ones -- have a setting for a special broiler function that has both elements on at once.  Do your best to make sure you have selected only the bake function.


Some thing you might try -- assuming this oven has two racks -- put one in the very top position and then put a cookie tray on the shelf to block the direct radiant heat from the top element.  Then put your bread on the lower shelf.


Going to 325 is a good idea too.


Dave

althetrainer's picture
althetrainer

I'd never thought about using a cookie sheet to block the direct heat from the top element.  Thanks for the suggestion and I will do just that today.  I am going to make a loaf of free form sourdough garlic sesame bread and definitely don't want to burn it. 


I have a question... these people don't bake so obviously they don't have a baking stone.  Do you think it will be all right if I just use a cookie sheet? 

PaddyL's picture
PaddyL

I bake a lot and I don't have a baking stone.  I just do what was suggested in one or two of my bread books; put a baking sheet, either upside down or not, in the oven before you heat up the oven.  It's always worked for me.

althetrainer's picture
althetrainer

Ahhh that's what I need to know.  Thank you very much! 


althetrainer's picture
althetrainer

Put the loaf on the lowest shelf and baked at 325F for an hour.  Had the cookie sheet blocking the heat for the first 30 minutes but had to remove it because the crust looked a bit pale.  The loaf would have been better if not because I was busy taking a nap then talking on the phone during final proof.  It was a bit overproofed but compared to the first two burnt loafs I am happy with this one.  Thanks everyone!


mredwood's picture
mredwood

Sometimes the best, easiest, and tastiest thing to do is to bake flat bread in a skillet on top of the stove. There are some great recipes out there and a wonderful book Flatbreads and Flavors will give you more options than you thought possible. Yes it can take the place of sliced bread. It's just different. You still get the yummy smell of baking bread the deliciousness  of fresh baked. You don't even need a rolling pin, the dough stores in the fridge until ready to use. The best bread I ever had was baked over an open fire in a skillet in sycamore canyon. 


Mariah

althetrainer's picture
althetrainer

Thanks Mariah, I've never tried baking bread over an open fire but I definitely will try it if I have the chance!