The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Baking in top element electric oven

bread10's picture

Baking in top element electric oven



I have been baking sourdough bread in a standard electric oven with element on the bottom, but I have started using an electric oven with the heating element on the top.


This is causing lots of problems with my bread!

Firstly I don't get oven kick / rise because the top of the loaf just dries out despite spraying and placing dish of water in oven.

Secondly the top crusts way to quickly causing the outside of the bread to burn before the inside is cooked.


I have tried to keep the oven as humid as possible and keep spraying but that did not work.

How can I resolve this problem? Any info, tips, suggestion welcome.

Obviously it is best to have the fan forced switched off in this situation.




NCGrimbo's picture

You could try putting a baking stone or sheet pan on a rack above the bread to try to force the direct heat away from the top of the loaf.

Ford's picture

I have no experience with this type of oven, but that does not keep me from offering an opinion!  Fools rush in -- etc.

You might try placing a sheet of aluminum foil on the shelf above the bread dough, keep the pan of water on the upper shelf,  turn on the oven fan, and of course, preheat the oven.  I expect the bread will not brown well under these conditions, so you may want to remove the water and the foil during the last few minutes of baking, maybe even turning off the fan.

Let me know whether this works, I'll check to see whether you get any other advice.


mrfrost's picture

Curious as to if the oven was designed to work like this or if the oven is working properly?

Some newer ovens have the lower element concealed beneath the oven floor.

Chuck's picture

... an electric oven with the heating element on the top. ...

I too find this extremely odd, and suspect it's really about a broken (or misunderstood?) oven.

It seems likely that the bottom element is "hidden" and the top element is suppoed to be only for broiling and preheating, but that something (maybe a broken bottom element? maybe pressing the wrong button?) is causing the top element to heat more than usual (even to stay on all the time).

Knowing the make and model would hopefully lead to a "manual", which would hopefully shed some light on this mystery.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Things to consider...

It could be that the top coil is only for broiling and that the fan is integrated with the main heating element heating the entire oven evenly.  

Many ovens have coils hidden (like mine) and the grill coil on top is optional.

Try different setting to see if you can't heat up the bottom, if not, find out if there is a coil under the oven floor.  If there is one, have it fixed.   If there is no coil, then place a dark baking sheet upside down on the bottom of the oven.  This can sometimes draw the heat down for a more even bake.

Oh, and another thing to check.  See if an extra baking sheet is resting on the bottom and you think it is the oven floor because it matches the oven.  Try taking it out while the oven is cold. 


bread10's picture



I did place a backing tray up the top shelf but this didn't seem to do much.


Ok so the Brand is - Allenzi

Model # A640EE


Another location on the oven it says the model number is A540EE


I also tried looking on the Allenzi website but they only had product sheets no manuals. 

mrfrost's picture

Sounds like this may be a countertop, or toaster type oven?

bread10's picture

it isn't a countertop.


It is a standard household upright oven / stove. 

mrfrost's picture

Seems they make quality appliances.

Try contacting the manufacturer to inquire as to proper operation. Someone there should at least be able to tell you over the phone if there is a lower baking element. There is also a "contact us" link on their web site.

Good luck.

Chuck's picture

Look for some kind of switch or knob that controls the "mode" of the oven. Turn it to something like "pizza" (or maybe even something like "convection cooking").

If it's set to something that mentions "...grill...", that's your problem. Change it (at least when baking bread)!


(My impression is that unlike most home electric ovens that get all their heat from the bottom element,  this oven will generate some of the heat from a top element most of the time. So you may need to leave that top pan in place even after you get the settings right. Try it both ways and see.)


gary.turner's picture

Chuck wrote:
If it's set to something that mentions "...grill...", that's your problem. Change it (at least when baking bread)!
In the US, we call top element radient heating "broil".




Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Close up of the oven setting knob?  There should be about 4 to 8 (or more) choices (not temperatures) all little symbols.  Maybe we can help you figure out what they represent.

How wide is the appliance in centimeters?  64 or 54?  Outside and inside width of oven?

Found this:


Width 570mm
Height 585mm
Depth 560mm

Fan Forced Element around Fan and Fan operate
Full Grill - Closed Door

Two top Elements operate

Half Grill - Closed Door Single top Element operates
Convection Roasting Two top Elements and Fan operate
Pizza Single Concealed Base Element and Fan Forced Element and fan operate
Convection Cooking Single top Element and Base Element operate
Grill with Fan Assistance Top Element and Fan operate
Light Light operates

Fan operates


I note that the bottom base element operates on "Pizza" and "Convection cooking"  so try baking with "Convection cooking."

bread10's picture

Thanks for the replies.


I have take a photo of the oven dial (Click on image for fullsize)


and this is my interpretation of the dial symbols (Click on image for fullsize)


I will check the dimensions of the oven shortly.

Thanks Again!

Chuck's picture

Hmmm, thanks for the photo, it makes it pretty clear your oven doesn't seem to match any of the available best guesses.

So, what can you tell us about the provenance of this oven?

  • how old would you guess it is?
  • how did you come by having to use it (for example, buy a new house?)
  • can you contact the previous/original owner?
  • can you contact a dealer that sells this brand of ovens and ask for further information about this model?
  • can you contact an oven repairman and get an opinion (and estimate)?

My silly wild guess is that maybe the "oven" settings are meant to be lower (hidden) element on full and upper element partially on too.

Exactly which setting(s) have you used in attempts to make bread? I'd guess the "convection oven" setting gives the best result. Typically in convection ovens the fan is very gentle, so "drying out" is not a problem after all. The heat is supposedly pretty uniform. And best of all, you can search for "convection oven" here on TFL and find all kinds of experiences and tips (you may for example need to turn the temperature down 25F less than the recipe calls for).

As to why your particular oven doesn't seem to work, my guess would be one of:

  • The manufacturer changed their style and no longer makes ovens exactly this way, precisely because of many other user complaints of having an experience similar to yours of being unable to make bread or pizza reasonably
  • The bottom heating element is just plain broken and needs to be repaired (this seems to me especially likely if the oven was sold with a house, and the previous owner was hoping you wouldn't realize it was busted and they should have paid for the repair:-)

It's too bad that appliance manufacturers/dealers don't seem to have gotten with the program of making their manuals available over the web like nearly every other product. So you'll likely need to resort to a phone call instead. (In what country are you located?) If it doesn't feel like you'll be able to get very much information out of them, try to at least get the answer to this single question: what do they recommend for making pizzas in this oven?

Chuck's picture

Based on a key of oven symbols by another manufacturer (SMEG) which is available on the web, I'd interpret some of these symbols a little differently.

The rectangular (not quite square) shapes of the symbols give a clue to orientation (I assume they're the same as the oven itself): the longer sides are the top and bottom, the shorter sides the left and right, of the oven.

Elements can be either top or bottom, and either medium or strong. Medium ones are shown as a bunch of dots, while strong ones are shown as a thick solid line. So for example the thick solid lines on both top and bottom of the "oven" symbol strongly suggest there's supposed to be a working bottom element.

The "fan" symbol is "convection"; there's no other fan. You have your choice of either "convection grilling" or "convection baking".

The symbol sorta like (--) is a "rotisserie". The heat specified in that picture is a bunch of dots on the top only, which means "grill" (or "broil").


bread10's picture

Thanks! Now that you have pointed that out, I have to agree with you on your interpretation.


So you are suggesting the first mode to the right is best for baking bread.

I.e. Wavy line at top and fan. (I listed it as Grill with fan on my list)

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I would not use for baking and I agree it is Grill with fan. 

I would use  Upper & Lower heat (7 o'clock) (which looks like someone had marked a green faded dot in the oven box... I would re-mark with red nail polish, easier to see!)  or use the Upper & Lower heat with fan (5 o'clock) for baking. 

See if there is a bottom drawer or tray under the oven, there may be a metal rotisserie stick with brackets and maybe instructions.  When rotisserie is turned on one nipple either left or right in the sides of the oven will operate a motor to rotate, it might be possible to hear the motor. 

You may also find a sheet of metal about 4 to 6 inches wide and the length corresponds to the width of the oven, often containing notches and slightly bent.  This is a knob protection insert and is used with grilling to brace the door open and protect the knobs from getting hot or melting.  It slips into the top frame of the oven and sticks out into the room.

Turn on the oven symbol and see if the bottom of the oven heats up.  I still suspect there might be a baking sheet resting on the bottom of the oven...

Mini :)

bread10's picture

Thanks! Ok well I was originally using both 7 o'Clock and 5 o'Clock for baking bread.


Today I mixed up packet muffin mix with the following baking instructions:


200 degrees C or (180 oC Fan Forced) for 20 - 25 mins

I set the oven to 5 oClock (Fan Forced) and dropped temperature to 175 degrees C

After 5 minutes in the oven the tops of the muffins were going brown!

(I also placed a tray on the top rack and placed the muffins middle to bottom of oven.)


So this kind of shows the intensity of the heat coming from the top element of the oven!!


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

the oven is wired wrong.  Like the broiler is going on with each setting.  Does it go on with the defrost mode?

I don't think the stove is factory wired wrong, only the connection from the stove to the power source.  I think it is more involved than simply connected to a plug.  It may involve two sources of power cables into the stove and possibly a power bridge.  I don't have any speck sheets in front of me but I did run into this when I removed one stove to install another.   Isn't an electrician required to connect a stove/oven unit?  I noticed the manufacturer has only been selling domestic units for about 10 years.

Chuck's picture

Nope, sorry I wasn't clear. I was not suggesting the first mode to the right. You need something with the bottom on, either with or without the convection/fan; I would expect the oven and the convection oven symbols (the two with a thick line at the bottom) to work. So if you've already been trying "7 o'clock" and "5 o'clock" that seems right to me. The options with more heat at the top than the bottom -including especially the ones with dots at the top and nothing at the bottom- (i.e. anything with "...grill..." in its name) are the ones I would expect to not work.

As there's obviously a problem despite reasonable "mode" settings, I'd expect that either:

  • the bottom element isn't working at all and just plain needs fixing
  • the bottom element is sorta working, but it's hard to tell that since it's "hidden", and something is preventing it from working very well (a pan on the bottom of the oven?)

I don't know whether or not "defrost" is supposed to include the top element on full, the top element on half, or not the top element at all. And I'm not confident enough to guess:-) If the manufacturing and quality assurance testing for this oven was anything like what I'm used to, I'd be extremely surprised if it was "mis-wired" at the factory. Some former owner though trying to either "fix" or "modify" it might have resulted in a mis-wire - that's why I asked about the provenance (history) of the oven.

mrfrost's picture

As mentioned earlier(by Chuck), the broiler(grill) element is typically used to help preheat the oven and then goes off when the oven reaches temps which can be solely maintained by the lower baking element. If the lower baking element is just "plain broke", the upper element is likely to remain on for quite a while.

Actually replacing the element is typically an easy and cheap (self)fix here in the US. The hidden element factor here will make things a little more involved, but once the element is accessed, the repair is the same.

There are several self fixit appliance forums here in the US describing such repairs for some US ovens. Maybe the op can find online forums where op is located(Austrailia?) for help with their model.

Be sure to unplug oven if repair attempts are made.



Chuck's picture

I just belatedly "got" MiniOven's suggestion about two plugs; this could be a key (and if I missed it earlier, maybe you did too:-).

(I 'm assuming we all agree that from the appearance of the "oven" and "convection oven" symbols there's supposed to be a working bottom element.)

From what I can see, typically newer European-style ovens have only one plug, but older ones very well might have two, as that way might have meant each plug would require only a "regular" weight circuit (i.e. no special wiring for the oven). If your oven replaced one that had only one plug, the space probably would have had only one receptacle, and plugging in the "better" of the two plugs from the Allenzi oven could lead to exactly what you describe: most everything working but the bottom element never coming on.

Again, the "history" of the oven is likely to provide a key to solving this mystery.

good luck!