The Fresh Loaf

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Convection oven and proofer question

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stonebakedbreads's picture
stonebakedbreads

Convection oven and proofer question

Hello everyone, 


    I recently have received the chance to bake in a commercial type kitchen at a church that I work at. The people there are nice enough to let me come down and get their kitchen nice and dirty to bake some bread for my weekend farmers market sale. I've been baking a lot of bread, around 50-60 loaves on friday nights to sell at the farmers market. So this is a great chance for me to bake some real sized baguettes! Also a chance for me to get lots of bread baking done at one time, hopefully.. They have two commercial gas heated ovens, along with a large convection oven, the vertical ones with a lot of racks. My question is should I only use the gas heated ovens and not the convection oven? I just read that a convection oven can dry out the crust before the full oven spring is reached.. But I also read that a commercial proofer (which I have access to also) can help with that. They didn't go into much detail so that's why I wanted to ask. How exactly do I use the commercial proofer? I know that it will allow my breads to proof a little quicker, but I'm not sure of any other advantages? Any help will be greatly appreciated.. Thank you!


  -Landon

Franko's picture
Franko

 I've never worked with a convection oven but I'd try turning the fan off during the initial bake , say first ten minutes. Then once the bread has sprung and set, turn it on again but watch your bread carefully because the bake time will probably be less than a regular conduction oven. As far as the proofer goes just put the the product in and check it after 20 minutes, particularly if the outside ambient temp is in the mid 70-80 range. Before you put the product in the proofer slide your hand down the side of an inside wall to check that you have enough moisture getting into the proofer. Your hand should be able pick up enough condensation to make it wet. Commercial proofers are notorious for being spotty when it comes to humidity, so it's worth checking to be safe. The gas ovens will likely have some cold spots that you need to find with a test run or two before you actually bake your breads for sale. Once you've used this new equipment a few times you'll find out all it's various idiosyncrasies and be able to bake not only larger quantities but with better results than domestic equipment.


Good Luck , and best wishes,


Franko

stonebakedbreads's picture
stonebakedbreads

Thanks man, that was a lot of help. So my best bet is to just go bake a few batches of bread over the next week or so.. I was planning on using them this friday for the market, but testing them out sounds like a much better idea. Also, the convection oven doesn't have an off switch for the fan, only a high and low. So lots to figure out.. But thank you so much for your help!


 


- Landon

Franko's picture
Franko

Not a problem, glad to help if I can. Let us know how it goes.

BellesAZ's picture
BellesAZ

I have a convection baking function on my oven, but mine is a regular oven at home - nothing commercial.  I have, however, turned on the wrong one and baked breads under convection roast.  That was way too much fan, and did dry out my bread too much. 

verminiusrex's picture
verminiusrex

I use my convection oven at home all the time for baking (got two loaves going right now), and I don't think they cause dryness at all. What I would suggest is trying it out, because I learned most of my baking by just doing something new to see what happens. If possible its good to try something new every time you bake. Definitely try baking the same bread in both to see the difference. 


I think the main bonus of a convection oven is the fact that you don't have to rotate pans for even browning. Keep in mind that you should be setting the convection oven about 20-25 degrees lower than you would a standard oven, which will make a difference.

holds99's picture
holds99

FWIW.  Verminiusrex's experience is the same as mine.  I haven't used a large commercial convection oven but did have 2 Kitchen Aid (over and under) convection ovens in my previous house and successfully baked many loaves of bread in those ovens. 


Typically, in a non-convection oven none of the air inside the oven circulates.  This results in the top and rear sections of the oven getting hotter than the middle and lower sections (heat rises and usually exits through a vent hole under one of the rear burners on the stove top). So the top section inside a non-convection is hotter than the rest of the oven).  Using a non-covection oven you have to be careful not to scorch the tops of your loaves with a loaded oven, and you usually have to move your bread pans or trays from one oven rack to another midway through the baking cycle.  


The benefit of using a convection oven is that it circulates and distributes the air fairly evenly throughout the oven, delivering pretty much equal heat distribution inside the oven.  That's good, because it means your top oven racks should get approximately the same heat as, say, the middle rack.  That being said, you should still periodically keep an eye on what's going on inside the oven.


As Verminiusrex said, the general rule for convection ovens (home ovens) is to reduce the oven temperature 20-25 degrees when using the convection feature.  That's because they usually are more efficient and get a little hotter than non-convection.


If you're experiencing dryness try using some steam during the first 8-10 minutes of the baking cycle. 


 


 

BellesAZ's picture
BellesAZ

I agree that I've never had an issue when convection baking.  My oven also has a secondary setting called "convection roast", which if used for baking, delivers a pretty intense heat that comes on and off.  The heat element is located above the racks and uses both fan and intense bursts of heat from above to roast.  Convection baking doesn't have that and uses a fan to circulate the heat evenly and like mentioned above, you don't have to turn your loaves.  You have to be a bit more careful when setting the oven on for baking that you use the convection bake setting on mine.  However, my loaves always turn out beautifully when I use my convection function.  I have a double oven, the top oven is not convection and when I'm baking multiple loaves, I use both ovens.. the convection bake loaves are always richer in color and much nicer on the finish.  My convection settings are handy... if something says to bake it at 350, my convection oven automatically adjusts to the right temperature and reduces the heat on its own.


For some reason, I thought many bakeries and restaurants use a convection ovens for those upright multi racks.. necessary to distribute heat evenly through all the racks - maybe I'm wrong.  But using the convection oven in your church shouldn't be an issue at all.

Franko's picture
Franko

@BellesAZ,


Hi, yes you are right to think that a lot of bakeries use convection ovens for baking entire racks of products and in fact that's what we use in the shop where I work. However I wasn't picturing the kind of oven I use when responding to Landon's post. I don't think it's likely that his church would have a state of the art Italian oven that is worth in excess of 60 thousand dollars. This thing is preprogamed to give exactly the right amount of steam, venting, fan on or off etc. etc. for all the various products we bake.  I imagined he was refering to a typical commercial kitchen convection oven which is quite a bit different from a purpose built bread and pastry rack oven.


Franko

BellesAZ's picture
BellesAZ

That would be fun to visit a bakery like that, Franko.  Where's the invitation?  LOL  Seriously, would love to see one of those in production.  I have a friend who owns an Italian restaurant, he's from Calabria.  He uses a bakery house to buy his breads for his restaurant and has offered to ask his bakery friend if I can come over and "volunteer" in his kitchen.  I would so much enjoy that.  Even if it was sweeping floors :)

Franko's picture
Franko

You should definitely take him up on that. It's pretty interesting to see a high volume shop when it's going flat out. As for the ovens in our shop there are three of them and I think I may have been ten or twenty thousand dollars low on what I quoted you. My employer is ...reluctant to share that info with the staff, so it's our best guess. These new digital ovens are quite good for baking large quantities at a time,but personally I'd prefer to have a nice big deck oven or WFO. With a digital preprogrammed oven the baker relinquishes most of his control over the bake to whatever the program dictates, the idea being to achieve consistency throughout the company's bakery operation.  It sort of makes it like a big expensive toaster oven but I understand the companies need to have consistent looking product from one store to another. I'm looking forward to when I retire and start to do some baking on my own for the local farmers markets, that I'll get back to baking in a low tech oven again.


All the best,


Franko