The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Do you need a special oven to be a good baker?

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achilles007's picture

Do you need a special oven to be a good baker?

Hi all.


Am feeling a bit overwhelmed with al the beutiful pictures of pastries, breads, backed goods, cakes, pizzas, etc.




I have heard that most memebers here have wood-fired ovens and only in such an environment can one be able to bake breads, pastries, bagels, or pizzas excellently.


And was just wondering-- can any of these beautiful creations be made of great promise in a regular old conventional oven? I just dont have the time to make a WFO or the money to purchase one, so I was hoping I wasnt alone here.


Also-- we have a smaller convection oven on the countertop, could that help out a bit?


Thanks all for any help!

wayne on FLUKE's picture
wayne on FLUKE

From what I have seen most people posting here are using typical home ovens with a lot of success. The biggest issues for most newbies with the oven is making sure the temp matches the dial and creating steam. (search for sylviah towels)

See this post for an example of a home (gas) oven and steam success.


mkelly27's picture

For the last 12-15 yrs. I have been baking in whatever home electric oven was available.  Using whatever mixing device I could afford.  proofing at whatever temperatures are in my house at the time,  What i can tell is this, it's all about knowing what works.  Understand the basics, know your dough,and work with it.

I produce spectacular breads every week with very consistant results, using the same appliances most have in their home  First you need to know what the basics are, and this website has been a great  source for learning those basics.

  Sure it may seem daunting to the beginner baker,with all of these advanced topics being discussed, but delve a bit deeper and you'll find (what I consider) the best resource for bread baking on the interwebs.

LindyD's picture

I agree with Wayne.  WFOs are in the minority.   Most TFL members are using gas or electric home ovens.  One is even experimenting with a new, souped-up countertop oven.

Keep in mind, also, that you're seeing the best of show - not the losers.  Most folks don't  post photos of their flops - which we all have.

Your good, old conventional oven should do just fine.  

dstroy's picture

guarantee it's not a requirement :) Floyd started this site a few years back, and we've got no fancy ovens at our place, but the bread is mighty tasty. All it takes is some practice!

Dave323's picture

That’s the wonderful thing about it. Anyone willing to practice and experiment can make beautiful, delicious bread … even if you bake it in a barbecue grill. The other nice thing is you can be as minimalist or as gadget-intense as you like. Personally, I drool at some videos from pros who have sheeters, auto-loaders, special, steam injection ovens, and on and on.

 Then again, years ago, on  a sailing schooner, we had a cook who created delicious bread (and all our other grub) in a galley measuring exactly six feet by six feet. He made enough every day for twenty of us, and baked it in a small, propane fired oven. In bread making, as in most things in life; Do the best you can, where you are, with what you’ve got. 


Have at it, and good luck.


bnom's picture

It's as old as I am!!  

It has the advantage of being simple enough for me to fix myself if a burner goes out. It did take me quite awhile to figure out how to get good steam in the oven but I finally got there - and at least I never had to worry about breaking the door window or screwing up the electronics. I also like the fact that I can bake baguette-length baguettes.

Happy baking,




pointygirl's picture

You can make bread on the stove top!


I also have to argue that there is no one definition of good bread.


It is quite an effort for me to produce "artisan"(don't even start me on the use of this word) crust in my oven.  I can not reproduce Jupiter's(Berkeley CA) wood fired, pizza crust but it is better than frozen or anything that I can have delivered to my house, so it is good.


And without any oven manipulation I produce kick-ass sourdough, whole grain, sandwich breads for about a $1.50 a loaf that would cost me $6-$8 in a bakery.  So I still have some grocery budget left to put something inside those slices and that is also good.

Even the occasional bread brick is good for you as a learning experience.

Enjoy your bread adventure, and don't worry about some abstract, subjective meaning of good.

flournwater's picture

Short answer is, "NO"

I've baked in a cast iron dutch oven over hot coals  -  it's not the equipmeth you use that counts as much as the formula and technique.

sphealey's picture

=== And was just wondering-- can any of these beautiful creations be made of great promise in a regular old conventional oven? ===

To a certain extent you might even want a cheaper oven, since a lot of baking at high temperatures (most people don't ever use the 550 deg.F setting; Fresh Loavers do though!), slinging various baking stones on and off the shelves, and experimenting with various methods of getting hot water vapor into the oven at the beginning of the process can lead to, well, a bit of a well-done oven. 

I would say that the three things you want are (1) a temperature controller that is reasonably accurate and steady (2) _replacement_ temperature controllers that are available and not too expensive {that 550 + steaming thing again; can be hard on the electronics} (3) extra racks available at a reasonable price for when your first set it scratched, stained, and bent.


shaylaaaa's picture

My husband and I live and work in Vietnam

I have had to use a microwave oven for everything, all the loaves I bake, the casseroles he makes, and even the thanksgiving turkey (only 5.5 kg though!! biggest we could find anyways...).

It took some getting used to, but it works great and cost us $50 new !! When I lived in the states, I had an oven from the stone age but knew its abilities by buying a little thermometer gauge, and hanging it from a rack.

Good luck to you !!! :)


Kitchen Barbarian's picture
Kitchen Barbarian

Please tell me how you bake in a microwave!  I'd love to try it.