Professional Artisan Bread in a Convection Oven
I just landed a new job! Problem is, we only have a double door convection oven in which the fan WON'T turn off! Oh the pain. Pun intended!
I'm so used to using a deck oven with steam injection that I'm running into problems at this new bakery. My main problem that I have to fix is getting the correct crust and spring in my bread. Every thing that leaves the oven browns EXTRA fast, leaving behind a rather heavy and dense loaf which doesn't get much oven expansion, despite being completely proofed!
Heres my process:
2 days prior to bake-
Mix any and all preferments
1 day prior to bake-
Mix final recipe with an adjustment to the yeast percent, mixing technique, and hydration in order to have 2% yeast, intensive mix and around 60-65% hydration. I let these Autolyse for 30 minutes, then mix in the salt and yeast. Mix times are 3 minutes on low 3 minutes on high. Gluten development is good. I let these proof for around 1-1.5 hours and give a single stretch and fold to the intensive mix. I then preshape and rest another 30 minutes then final shape the loaves before placing on a floured parchment paper lined sheet pan to final proof at 41 degrees until 21 hours later.
I have a pan with nuts and screws filled in the bottom of my oven and I place a cup of boiling water in it before placing the loaves in the oven. Everything looks beautiful up until this point. This is when it gets hairy. The convection fan does not turn off unless you turn off the oven. Regardless, I tried the bake a few ways.
Bake 1: Steam oven with steam pan and leave fan on low and oven at 350 degrees. Problem: Almost no oven spring, loaves stayed dense and baked up in 15 minutes tops.
Bake 2: Turn oven to 450 degrees, steam oven and turn off oven after loading bread in via sheet pans. Once bread has risen a little (15%++) turn fan on low and 350 degrees to finish bake. Problem: not much oven spring, steam barely stayed in the oven. Better than previous bake but still ended roughly very quick. 20 minutes tops if not less and once again, loaves stayed dense but fully baked color on outside, very soft but baked interior. Crust dissipated quickly [2 minutes?]
That was it that I tried yesterday. Today I am baking 35 loaves of bread, and I want to prevent as many baking problems as I can as this bake could be sellable and I would like it to be! I was very dissapointed in myself and the ovens yesterday.
Idea 1: Pre-heat to 450 degrees. Brush tops of loaves with water OR egg wash AND steam the oven and turn it off during first 10 minutes of the bake in order to get proper oven spring. Finish bake at a low 325 with low fan setting.
Am I on the right track? I want to bake stellar bread, like I normally do! Are there any commercial bakers out there that can give me a few pointers? Is there any way to change around my process to save time or increase bread quality? I feel my initial proof could be lengthened, as when I tasted my rye sourdough it was a little on the weak side and lacked the complexity it normally has. Thank you for any ideas and I hope this post could serve as an informative guide for other bakers experiencing these same problems :]