The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Convection oven problem: lack of luster

csulliva's picture

Convection oven problem: lack of luster

Hi all,

We have recently begun baking our bread in a commercial gas convection oven.  This is a big step up for us, as we have been baking in our little home oven until this move.

In addition to the expected changes from the transition (lower temp and shorter baking time required), we are noticing that all of our loaves are lacking in luster.  We are currently baking at 400F and steaming the oven with 1.5 cups boiling water into a preheated heavy pot at the bottom of the oven at the start of the bake.

Does anyone have any ideas as to why this is and what we should try to remedy?  Our loaves are noticibly more grey, lacking the beautiful golden shine they previously had.  I wonder - does the convection pull the steam from the oven quickly, or is it something else?  I am not sure we can turn the convection off, I will need to check that - it may just have a high and low option.

Any ideas / suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance,


pelosofamily's picture

Just the change itself to a commercial oven will require experimenting I'm sure.  I have a convection option on my home oven ..but I have never used  it for bread it's main purpose is to seal the surface and retain the moisture in meats etc.  Bakeries use convection but they must inject moisture to retain humidity as the fan would draw it away continuously. I'm sure I've just added to the confusion



mcs's picture

I'm going to assume you can't shut the fan off in your convection oven since that would be the easiest solution.  Since gas convection ovens are well ventilated, they don't hold steam very well as you have found out.  The good side of this is that you get a dry bake which is often what you're after for the last 10 minutes or so of the bake.

Some people try preheating the oven 25 degrees high, shutting the oven off when loading, steaming and closing the door for 5 minutes or so, then turning the oven back on.  This strategy (without the steaming) can also be used for something like a meringue that needs to set somewhat without the fan.

Another method which you could try with or without the method above is to spritz your loaves before loading, then steaming like you're doing. 

The last method around these parts is called the 'Susan's Magic Bowl' method.  Cover your loaf with a upside down foil roasting pan, aluminum roaster, chafing dish or bowl, then you'll be protecting the bread from the wind.  This is one of many posts about this method.

Between all of these methods, you should be able to find something that'll suit your needs with your new oven.  I bake all of my breads (and pastries) in commercial convection ovens and they come out fine.  It just takes some experimenting.