The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

No Knead to Preheat???

crumb bum's picture
crumb bum

No Knead to Preheat???

Hello Bakers

While most of the bread world has been going "no knead" I have been going no preheat.  I read about this method a year or so ago.  As part of my newyears resoulution to try new methods I have been using it.  The method consists of placing 1/3 to 1/2 cup of water on the oven floor. Put bread on a sheet pan and slash as usual.  I place it in the oven in the middle rack, shut the door and turn oven on to 525.  The oven window will be covered with steam for the first 10 min or so.  After 15 min I lower the heat to 440 or so for the rest of the baking time.  The baking time is just slightly longer.  I have noticed no great difference in my breads baked on a preheated stone or on a sheet pan minus the stone and preheat.  I will say that sometimes the bottom gets a little darker than when on the stone.  What I like most about this is you can wait until the very last minute and throw in your bread and not have to have to guess when to turn on the oven to preheat.  It also saves on electricity and to some degree heat in the kitchen.  Give this a whirl, I think you will be pleasantly suprised.

Da Crumb Bum 

Srishti's picture
Srishti

I have been wanting to do this. So my next bread would be a no-preheat. Thanks for the "encouragement"... :) I'll let you know how it turns out.

L_M's picture
L_M

Hi to all of you! I live in Israel and I've been baking bread for a few years now - mostly yeast, but I'm very interested in improving on my sourdough. I tried Crumb Bum's method of placing the ready to bake bread in a cold oven and it worked out very well! With all the talk lately about baking the no knead bread in a hot pot ... I just had to try baking in a cold pot... and the results were just about the same so naturally I found this "no peheat" idea very interesting. Thanks for sharing!

L_M

crumb bum's picture
crumb bum

Johanna

When I bake bread using the no preheat method I do not use my baking stone.  I put my bread on a aluminum sheet pan and right on the middle rack of my oven.  I am sorry if I was not clear on that on my first post.  I can imagine that you would have problems with browning on the bottom if you used a stone or anything that took a while to conduct the heat through completly.  I am sold on this method for bread that I would bake directly on my stone.  I have not tried it on breads baked in pans or sweetened breads.  Other than pale bottoms and crispy top how did the bread turn out?  Oven spring and texture wise?

Da Crumb Bum

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

Being totally intrigued by the "cold oven" method, I want to try but have a few questions...

> is the dough going into the cold oven after the bench proof? Or does the rise in the cold oven constitute the bench proof?

> dough hydration? - I'm guessing about 65% - is that right? How much higher in hydration can I go and still have the dough keep it's shape?

> and talking about the dough keeping it's shape...doesn't the dough tend to spread out while the oven is preheating? (After all, in a traditional method, the dough is always supported for the final rise by a couche or rising basket before it goes into a preheated oven with a baking stone).

> I have a gas oven. Does that really mean no water in a pan if the oven is gas? (see post by jm_chng on January 30, 2007 in this thread)? Why is water required if the oven is electric but not if it is gas?

TIA to all.

ehanner's picture
ehanner

No preheat or cold start baking is appropriate for just about every kind of bread I have tried. For the last month I have discovered that the crust and crumb is hardly changed except on the bottom of the loaf where it is softer. Our family actually likes the softer bottom.

As far as your questions concerning proofing, you can proof in the cold oven with a cup of just boiled water in the oven which helps keep the temp warm and the moisture high. When you are satisfied with the proof, remove the water slash the tops and turn on the oven. This method eliminates the need for a stone cooking surface. The stone takes so long to heat that using one in a no preheat situation would result in a gooey uncooked bottom. I use flat cookie sheets.

The hydration issue and how it relates to dough holding shape prior to baking is an area where many bakers learn something that changes everything. When I started getting serious about making artisan breads I thought that the only thing that would keep dough from spreading out was lower hydration. What I have learned is that developing gluten strands by kneading, folding and stretching also have a big impact on spread and oven spring. Once you learn to create surface tension on the top of the dough and develop gluten strands, your breads will puff up and be beautiful.

I don't have any recent experience with a gas oven but from what I hear from other contributors here the warm up times are similar to electric. It's just a few minutes and your oven will be up to cooking temp. I have poured a 1/2 cup of water on the floor of my electric oven to add a little steam but I think the need for steam is offset by a cool starting temp. The crust isn't set as quickly as it is at a high temp.

I don't know what  jm_chng was getting at in that post. He is an expert in the field however and I wouldn't doubt his opinion if that's what he said.

I hope I have shed some light on your questions on the NPH method. I was floored when I first tried it and it worked. For most of us who only bake a single batch at a time or maybe two, this method will save you a considerable amount of money in energy costs and you won't be wasting 100-200% in excess energy consumption.

Eric

crumb bum's picture
crumb bum

Hello All

I just thought I would chime in on this.  First off, there is quite a discussion on this if you search "cold start".  Eric, you have it exactly right.  Development of the gluten combined with surface tension is key to making great loaves.  I don't think this can be over-emphasized.  Are you still using this method for all of your bakes?  I am going on almost 4 months without a hitch.  I do not change hydration when using this method.  I bake a 2 kilo miche weekly as well as smaller breads.  When baking the miche you will find that it takes 10 to 15 minutes to spring.  When you first place it in the oven and turn it on it will spread out to an extent.  At this point you will be cursing at trying not preheating.  15 minutes later and you will be saying "wow it does work."  I also like that you can wait until the last minute to bake.  In the past if the wild yeast decided to take there own sweet time rising, my oven would be on for hours.  I am not sure why this method does not get more play in bread books or even on this site considering how well it works?

Da Crumb Bum

crumb bum's picture
crumb bum

Hey again

Here is the link to the discussion I mentioned above http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/2287/unheated-oven

Da Crumb Bum

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

Many thanks to all who replied. You ppl are the greatest! I love the idea of skipping the stone and not preheating. However, I regret to report that my first attempt at a "country bread" using a cold oven was not a success.

I have made this recipe many times before; it is about 67% hydration. Oven spring was less than I get baking in a preheated oven. As I feared, the dough spread out rather than up during the pre-baking rise. Perhaps this was the result of letting the dough rise flat on the pan for the final proof as was suggested

Quote:
you can proof in the cold oven with a cup of just boiled water in the oven which helps keep the temp warm and the moisture high

I am going to repeat the same recipe tomorrow but do the last pre-baking rise in a container (rather than flat on the pan). As before, it will be baked in a cold start oven set to 450F.

Wish me luck. Any tips you want to give before my 2nd attempt will be most welcome. TIA
umbreadman's picture
umbreadman

This sounds interesting, and I would like to give it a try. I'd love to just chuck the loaf in the oven without heating it up. I have to ask though, how long does it take your ovens to heat up? Where I live right now, the oven takes upwards up 20-30 minutes to get up to temp...if i'm lucky : ( I feel like the cool start wouldn't work very well, that it would probably just rise a lot and collapse before the crust ever formed. Or might that not be the case?

Cooky's picture
Cooky

I too could not quite get my head around starting bread in a cold oven for all the reasons mentioned above, but it is remarkably effective. Whether it takes 15 or 20 or whatever minutes to get your oven up to max temp, the bread seems to respond incredibly well. One time, I was disappointed with the crust color on a batch of sourdough, but I think I could have solved that by leaving the heat set higher for a while instead of turning it down after 15-20 minutes.

 

Caveat: I have *not* tried this with rich doughs. That could be a bit of a different experience. 

 

"I am not a cook. But I am sorta cooky."

browndog's picture
browndog

I baked (and still do) 'enriched' sandwich loaves for years upon years before stumbling upon this life-altering pursuit of artisan bread. My breads invariably went in to a cold oven or at most an oven that had been turned on long enough for the gas to kick on. Ovenspring was generally terrific, crusts were dark and just what they should be for a sandwich loaf. My baking temps ranged from 350-400 and times from 40-50 minutes.

Now the challenge is to duplicate that comfort level and consistent success with artisan breads, and though sometimes my loaves turn out happily, too often they don't. Really good ovenspring is elusive, so is the wide-open crumb that seems almost commonplace around here, or a really rich brown crust. I resist preheating and stones and steam because I personally can't justify it for reasons of the planet, but always feel inclined to blame my limited results on that. Cooky--

>One time, I was disappointed with the crust color on a batch of sourdough<

ONE time? Good Lord. The point of all this bone-chewing is: obviously some of you have not just adequate but excellent and consistent results without preheat, stones, or steam, right? So I really must stop blaming those factors and start looking elsewhere for the source of my pain.

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

My experience has been the same as BrownDog's -- I never preheat my oven anymore when I'm making sandwich bread, and I can't say that I've seen a bit of difference between the loaves I used to make in a preheated oven and the loaves that I pull out now.

weavershouse's picture
weavershouse

I'm a little dense this morning but what do you mean by sandwich bread? I know it's bread for a sandwich, but are you talking about loaves baked in a pan? And if so, what do you do about other breads that are not considered sandwich loaves baked in a pan, whatever they are? Do you cold start all your breads?                   weavershouse 

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

Weavershouse,

Not stupid at all. I think of sandwich breads as enriched loaves (i.e. breads with milk, butter, oil, sweetener, etc.) that are baked in a standard 8.5x4.5" or 9"x5" loaf pan at about 350 degrees F.

When I make lean loaf (just flour, water, salt and leavening), I usually pre-heat and either use a stone or a cloche at 450 degrees F or above. I've not tried no preheat with these hearth breads, Others, however, have experimented with no preheat for their sourdough hearth breads with success.

browndog's picture
browndog

Hi, weavershouse, to me 'sandwich bread' is just plain ol' yeast bread with varying amounts of fat and sweetener, easy to handle and resulting in a pleasant but not particularly open crumb. I'd put all manner of stuff in mine and rarely used a recipe, but it was tender, tasty, well-risen and made a great...sandwich; also, it was predictable. *sigh*

I often use bread pans but if the dough lends itself I will do freeform. In fact, if you remember my blog about Loaves and Puppies with all the little white and wheat rounds--I'd call them all sandwich breads that could easily have baked in pans. All cold-started unless one batch followed on the heels of another into the oven.

>other breads that are not considered sandwich loaves baked in a pan<

I guess like a brioche or a sweet 'festive' bread or something. Weavershouse, in 25 years of baking and experimenting, preheat never entered my world. It always seemed fussy and utterly unneccesary. Now, because my artisan results are so uneven, there's an insidious whisper in my ear saying "preheat, you must preheat..." It's causing me no end of dismay, so it's good to revisit a thread like this.

umbreadman's picture
umbreadman

I think I'm gonna do it. It's about time I made something. And I'll take pictures this time, great!  The big question is....can I get it done before I have to go to work......

KipperCat's picture
KipperCat

How does the cold start affect baking time? Do you time your loaves from the time you turn on the oven? I had great success with a NYTno-knead loaf this way, but really didn't track the time.

 

ps I could swear I posted this query earlier, I can't find it now. My apologies if I did doublepost.

Cooky's picture
Cooky

I've found that 10 or 15 extra minutes will do it for most breads. Your oven may vary, of course. You still want the interior temp to reach 200-205 (for a lean loaf), so an instant-read thermometer is your friend here.

 

 

 

 

"I am not a cook. But I am sorta cooky."

ejm's picture
ejm

I very much like the idea of not preheating the oven for a long time (I get flack about it...) and generally preheat for about 15 minutes now instead of for 30 minutes that I was allowing to preheat before. So if not preheating will mean baking the bread for 10 to 15 minutes longer, I don't really see that there will be much difference in how much energy is required.

 

browndog's picture
browndog

ejm, obviously it doesn't matter which end of the bake you tack on that extra 10-15 minutes, but as you know, preheat is expected to take as long as 30-60 minutes, especially when there's a stone in the bargain (or in the oven, rather.) Significant energy savings if you're knocking off 15-45 minutes.

KipperCat's picture
KipperCat

And besides the energy savings, it's very convenient to just be able to put the bread in the oven when it's ready.  No worry about overproofing while waiting for the oven. I wonder if you would get a better oven spring from a cold oven than from a partially preheated one?

browndog's picture
browndog

 

thom leonard country frenchThis is a little loaf of Thom Leonard's Country French. I followed crumb bum's instructions exactly, except that the last twenty minutes were at 400* because it was browning quick. It baked for 60 minutes total, and weighed just shy of 1- 1/2 lbs, rather than the recipe's 4lb loaf at 70+ minutes. No crumb shot because this little bugger is going off to the historical society bake sale (we're very quaint in New England,) and you know what that means--it only has to look good...Aside from an unintended and slightly disturbing eau de Crusades I'm very satisfied.

jonkertb's picture
jonkertb

Tried the no preheat last night and LIKE it...simplifies the process even more as I work towards cloning Panera's whole grain loaf.

Tom in west central Indiana

crumb bum's picture
crumb bum

Hey Kauseway

I do turn my oven up to 525 for the first 10 min.  I then turn it down to 440.  My oven does not crank up to the full 525 in those first 10 minutes.  After I turn it down to 440 it takes another 5 minutes for my oven to reach this temp. and the preheat beeper to go off.  The reason I crank it up so much is to get the temp up quickly and steam the water in the first 10 to 15 min.  I have been playing around with a 500 for 10 min and 420 the remainder of the bake.  The results have been good.  The bottom does not get quite so dark and it pushes a little more moisture out of the loaf due to a longer bake.  Hope this helps.

Da Crumb Bum

Doughtagnan's picture
Doughtagnan

I was interested to find this thread as for my loaves I usually just put the dough in a large cast iron casserole, whack the oven on full and pop it in for 45-50mins, results are always fine.  I only preheat for pizza and french bread. Cheers Steve

saraugie's picture
saraugie

I want to try the cold start method of baking.  I have a good high end oven and it takes at about 40 minutes to reach 450 degrees.  Its electric and I've read here that some of yours only take 7 minutes to get to 450-500 ?  Is my oven so unusual ?

I also posted this entry on another thread because I want to read as many of your opinions as I can

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

I guess it depends on what you mean by preheating. On my approximately 20 year old GE electric oven, it takes about 10 minutes of heating until the indicator light turns off. That simply means the air inside the oven has reached 450.

I usually bake on a baking stone, and for breads and pizzas, for the bottoms to reach a desired brownness predictably, I preheat for 25 to 30 minutes.

If I'm baking pizzas at 500 or so, I let things preheat 35 to 40 minutes or so.

If it is taking your oven 40 minutes just to heat the air inside, you or someone needs to check it out. Maybe the door is not completely closing, or the door gasket is not sealing as it should. Maybe the heating element is burning out, or has a bad electical connection at the contacts.

Then again, you say it is high end, so maybe it is using other parameters to measure temperature. Maybe it has sensors to measure the wall, or just behind the wall?

qahtan's picture
qahtan

I would say your oven being high end as you say is extremely slow in coming to temperature......

I have Kitchenaide Superba  built in  30 inch convection. had it about 9/10 years about, gets used a lot, takes 11/12 mins to get to 450. I believe some are even faster... qahtan

saraugie's picture
saraugie

I am going to verify, with an oven temp gage in, stone out and a timer how long it takes to get to 450.  I'm 90% sure the 30-40 min is what it takes but I could be mistaken,  It is a Bosch, that is 8 years old and was the top of the line for a home oven at the time.  I will also find the owners manual and other docs and see if I'm doing something incorrectly.  Thanks for the reply

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

time to preheat using top & lower heat but with only the convection on, goes quickly, 15 minutes.  So when I must, I preheat with convection to a higher temp than desired (to make sure the heating elements stay on) and then change to top & lower heat to maintain it.  The other method would be to cover up the dough completely and only use convection to bake the loaf like I did with my 100% favorite rye or like what can be done using a cloche, casserole or clay baker.  By using the convection I've gotten temperatures over those written on the oven dial because it actually heats higher than the dial setting, the reason it must be set lower when using to bake.

In the title entry, adding water to the bottom of a cold oven makes sense for adding even hot water to the bottom of a hot oven ruins the oven enamel and is risky business.

 

saraugie's picture
saraugie

I timed it today and it was 21 minutes give or take 15 seconds, to get to 450.  I guess that's closer to 8 minutes some of your folk's ovens heat up. I can live with that.

booch221's picture
booch221

It also saves on electricity and to some degree heat in the kitchen.  Give this a whirl, I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

I'm trying to figure out how much my bread costs? Figuring the ingredients is easy. Does anyone know how much electricity a 5-year old GE oven uses? My utility charges ~8 cents per kWh. I bake my bread at 450F.

Chuck's picture
Chuck

How much electricity depends on the size (neither the brand nor the age) of the oven. It's likely there's a label on the inside door panel that gives the exact electricity usage for your particular model of oven.

We can guess though. Most ovens use somewhere between 3 and 9 kilowatts of electricity; 7.5 kilowatts seems a reasonable guestimate for a typical home oven. If it takes the oven an hour to preheat (number chosen to make calculations easier, reality would probably be shorter), that's 7.5 kilowatt-hours, so at the rate of 8 cents per kWh a total of sixty cents would be charged. (The price of electricity in some areas of the country is quite a bit higher than that; many could easily double that cost.)

My own actual electricity bill is dominated by the "base" charge just for having service. And seemingly silly things like  a computer left on all day and night or a fan left running for many days when it's hot bump up my electricity bill more than my oven does.

(Of course one could argue the "true" cost of electricity, including all externalized environmental costs, is vastly different than what's actually charged. It's likely a good idea to get into the mindset of conserving energy even when the dollar savings of some things don't seem to clearly justify them right away:-)

 

What seems to matter the most for energy use by ovens is the amount of insulation. If your oven takes "forever" to cool down if you forget to crack the door open, it's not going to use nearly as much energy to get hot and stay hot. As it's sometimes difficult to get a clear answer as to just how much insulation a particular oven really has, a "proxy" may be needed -- it turns out the "self-cleaning" feature is a pretty good proxy for "lots of insulation" (it would be hard to get hot enough to "self clean" if the oven weren't well insulated:-).

booch221's picture
booch221

Thanks for your response. I found the label behind the storage drawer on the front of the range frame. It says it uses 8.8 kWh at 220 Watts. Also, I looked a deeper into the kWh charge. When you add in the fuel adjustment, the purchased power adjustment, and the regulatory cost charge, it comes to 12.5602¢ per kWh.

So I think it costs me about $1.28 worth of electricity for every loaf of bread I bake and about 25 cents for the ingredients.

I'm not saving as nearly as much money baking bread at home as I thought I was. However, it's still cheaper than the supermarket bread and better tasting, so it's worth it.

 

Chuck's picture
Chuck

Home-baked bread certainly provides a wider variety of better tastes. Making something yourself is usually a very fulfilling adventure. You don't have to worry that some of the shortcuts taken by bulk producers may not be so good for health. And I can't think of a better way to poke a stick in the eye of big business.

But most experience is, when a complete and accurate account of all costs is made, saving money over what you could buy in the grocery store is not justification for baking bread at home. Just ask anyone who's tried to actually make money selling at something like a Farmers' Market at prices that are competetive with storebought.

(Of course if the cost of your time is "free", that could skew the accounting. The cost of baking tools [both one-time things like specialty mixers, couche cloth, steam gadgets, etc. - and recurring costs like parchment paper, tinfoil, etc.] contributes something too. Even the tap water that both liquifies the flour and washes the bowls costs something. And when I run amok in the kitchen as I so frequently do searching for a "different" flavor or an "unusual" component, my ingredients cost seldom stays below 25 cents per loaf.)

booch221's picture
booch221

But most experience is, when a complete and accurate account of all costs is made, saving money over what you could buy in the grocery store is not justification for baking bread at home.

I hear you. I just thought of saving money as an added benefit. I'm saving money baking at home--just not as much as I thought. I never expected electricity to be such a big expense. The supermarket where I shop charges $2.50 for a six ounce Ciabatta. I can go to Costco and get them far cheaper, and it's pretty decent, but there's so much I have to freeze it, which degrades the product.  I love baking at home, and would probably continue, even if it cost more than the store bought.


booch221's picture
booch221

Thanks for the recipe. I will give this a try...

But I need to translate it from Brit to Yank.

I assume  Strong Wholemeal Bread Flour is whole wheat flour?

Easy Blend Yeast is instant or rapid-rise?

And kitchen paper is what we call paper towels?