The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

browning top of flat bread (Khoubiz) in electric oven

LiteBright's picture

browning top of flat bread (Khoubiz) in electric oven

We have made pita bread in an oven with a gas broiler for years.  On a cooking stone, it usually takes about 3 minutes for the loaf to puff up, then another 2 minutes for the broiler to lightly brown the top of the loaf.

We replaced the gas oven with an electric oven.  The loaf puffs up but the electric broiler element turns on and off constantly when the oven reaches 500°. Sometimes the top of the loaf browns but most of the time it doesn't.  I can let the oven cool down before puting the loaf in so the broiler stays on longer, but this is difficult for each loaf.

 Has anyone tried using a 2nd baking stone above the loaf to brown the top instead of a broiler?


mrfrost's picture

After the pita has puffed, you might try the Alton Brown method of tricking the broiler to make it stay on: prop the oven door open (just)wide enough to where the broiler almost has to stay on to maintain high temp.

Good Eats, Raising the Steaks, pt 2, approx 8 min mark:

Just a suggestion as I have never tried it myself. May be worth a try though.

Good luck.

Chuck's picture

It helped me to understand not all electric ovens are the same - this may help others too.

Here's how "most" electric ovens in the U.S. work: The controls provide a "broil" setting that turns the top element on all the time (no thermometer). However,  this can quickly get the oven so hot that the "safety" shuts down everything. To keep the safety shutdown from kicking in, the standard operating procedure is to leave the oven door ajar when broiling. Oven doors typically have an extra "stop" that keeps them open just a few inches for just this reason.

("Oven broiling" is very messy, so as barbeque grills have become more common "oven broiling" is being forgotten:-)

Electric ovens can however be different in at least a couple ways.

  1. A few link the "broil" setting to the thermostat,  so the top element cycles on and off (extremely well insulated ovens where the safety would soon kick in no matter what are more likely to be like this).

  2. A few refuse to operate at all if the door is ajar (these of course don't have the extra "stop" with the door not quite closed).

My impressions (I may be off base about these:-) are that

  • Since "convection" ovens are already different in at least one way, they're more likely to be different in some of these other ways too.

  • Ovens with these less common behaviors tend to be more similar to those found in Europe, so European users may have more relevant suggestions of how best to use them.

My understanding is this thread's problem involves an oven that's different in all these ways: it's convection, its "broil" control is linked to its thermometer, and it won't operate at all with the oven door ajar. It seems like the controls should offer an additional "bake" setting that has the top element partway on, but there doesn't seem to be any such thing.

So has anybody got an idea that will fool this particular oven into doing the right thing???

hanseata's picture

I bake multigrain pitas in my electric oven every week. The rack with the baking stones is on the second highest tier. I pre-heat the oven to 550 F (baking mode), alternating with "broil - high".

I also use "broil - high" after taking one batch of pitas out to bring the oven heat up fast. But I don't broil the pitas, but switch to "bake", when they are in the oven. They might be a bit browned from underneath but I don't want them to be brown (and harder) on top. They take ca. 2 minutes to puff up, and after 20 seconds more they are done.



LiteBright's picture


...As I understand, you use "broil" to heat the oven and stone, then switch to "bake" before you put the loaf in the oven. 

Do you actually brown the top of the loaf?  Since you don't use "broil" when the loaf is in the oven, does the upper heating element come on at all with the oven on "bake"? 

hanseata's picture

LiteBright, I'm baking my multigrain version of WGB's "Whole Wheat Pita". These pitas are not supposed to be brown on top, only perhaps a little bit from below. I want to achieve a broiling heat, but not a broiled look.

These pitas have a wonderful taste, but they are soft. People buy them for lunch and stuff them with salad etc. We eat them at home with fried Halloumi cheese and tomatoes.


LiteBright's picture

Your multi-grains sure look good.  I have made similar ones (AP-flour/Whole Wheat mix) and really like them.  They become darker without browning. 

The AP-flour loaves however come out very white unless they are browned (as in my picture above).  They are soft & chewy but with a different texture, and my favorite way to eat them is with a slab of real butter.  This type of bread has been passed down in our family for at least 100 years and I don't want the new technology of electric ovens to change the taste.

After observations from Chuck (above) I realized my oven is not typical and that I can probably prop the door open while keeping the oven switch depressed to fool the oven into thinking it is closed.  I will be able to try this in the next few days and will report back.

LiteBright's picture

I made an object that keeps the oven door switch depressed and also keeps the oven door open 3/4". It is a piece of 3/4" plywood with a stiff U-shaped wire that fits snugly into one of the oven's wide door holes. It can be easily attached and removed from the oven door. This object keeps the oven door open very slightly and the oven thinks the door is closed since the door switch is depressed. The broiler will now stay on when I put the object in place because the oven temperature doesn't get high enough to shut off since the door is slightly open. The location of the oven door switch Close-up of switch The plywood object installed in the door that presses against the switch when the oven door is closed The top of the bread will now brown since the broiler can be kept on, but unfortunately the bottom of the bread should be very lightly browned and this is not happening --even using a cooking stone. Right now, I must first (attempt to) brown the bottom of the bread in another oven and then transfer it to the broiler to brown the top. My recipe however does not call for any sugar or oil, so next time I will try adding some to see if this helps.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Can you push on buttons until you get just the upper and lower coils to light up the indication symbol of the oven?   try roast

ZZZZZZZZ         <this would be upper oven heat

    (><)             <fan

XXXXXXXX         <this would be lower oven heat  (hidden coils)  


Did a metal sheet come with the oven that is about 6 inches wide and the length corresponds to the width of the oven?  Possibly bent slightly.  

What do your oven instructions say about baking bread in the oven?

Are you sure you have enough power in the oven?  I would have that checked by a qualified electrician if you can't get enough heat to brown bread.  I bake all the time without sugar or oil in my bread and get great browning.  

LiteBright's picture

--I had not tried the oven's "convection bake" setting which turns on all 3 elements instead of just the broiler element. Thanks, I believe this may help significantly. Describing "convection bake, the oven user manual says: This movement of hot air maintains a consistent temperature throughout the oven, cooking foods more evenly, crisping surfaces while sealing in moisture and yielding crustier breads.

--A "Roasting Rack" which rests on a "Broiler Grid" and "Broiler pan" is an optional accessory not included with the oven. The user manual says, This holds the food above the grid and allows air to circulate completely around all surfaces. Unfortunately however, a "Roasting Rack" may not be appropriate since flat bread cooks completely (and starts to dry out) in 3 or 4 minutes. I think a cooking stone or upside down cookie sheet may be more appropriate to very slightly brown the bottom of the bread. I'm hoping that the added heat from using the "convection bake" setting will work.

--The oven is wired with excess capacity. I think maybe the cooking stone was not getting enough heat from just the broiling element.

LiteBright's picture

O.K., after trying many combinations, my final process (at least for now) is:

Using a cooking stone resting on the floor of the bottom oven (set to 550F), the loaf will rise in a little over 2 minutes and will very very very slightly brown the bottom of the loaf.  After it has risen, it gets transferred to the top oven.

The top oven is set to broil with my plywood in place (shown above).  The loaf is placed on an upside down cookie sheet on the 2nd shelf from the top.  The broiler element browns the loaf in about 3 minutes.  Unfortunately, since electric broiler elements are U-shaped wires, heat does not radiate evenly from above. Many times, the top of the loaf near the edges do not brown.  Sometimes I rotate the loaf half-way during the browning to try and get the top to brown more evenly.


-Concentrated heat is needed below the loaf for 2 minutes to make it rise, and above the loaf for 3 mintues to lightly brown the top.  Convection Bake did not work because the top and bottom elements don't seem to get hot enough to provide concentrated heat when all of the elements and convection fan are running at the same time.

-In my old gas oven, the extra water vapor produced during combustion and the power of a gas flame made the process of making this bread easier.  Cooking just about anything else other than this type of bread seems to be easier using the electric oven however.