The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Oven Spring and Oven Rack Placement...Correlation?

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breitbaker's picture
breitbaker

Oven Spring and Oven Rack Placement...Correlation?

I've always placed the oven rack containing my baking stone on the 2nd to bottom rack.

Baked a ton of breads, soft rolls, hearth style, sticky buns, you name it, and it worked great.  However, since purchasing my new oven(electric also) and baking on the same level, I get consistent overbrowning of the bottom crust. I've tried switching out pan types, etc. and it doesn't seem to help...the one thing that does work (as far as overbrowning the bottom crust) is to move my oven rack and stone, to the central rack position...but I've always been under the impression that oven spring isn't nearly as great if your rack is farther up in the oven? Experienced bakers, what's your take?  Or any tips on dealing with the overbrowning without losing oven spring!?

Thanks!

cathyb.

sharon.anders's picture
sharon.anders

My oven also burns or has an overly dark bottom crust on the lower 2 racks. I have no trouble with oven spring when the rack/stone is  placed on the middle rack. I believe that the preheated stone relates a good deal to the oven spring.

jcking's picture
jcking

Cathyb,

Is the oven kept at the same temp throughout the bake? Or is it lowered after 5 mins? What is the initial temp?

Jim

breitbaker's picture
breitbaker

For SD and artisan style hearth breads I lower the temp after 5 minutes...Obviously with pan breads and soft rolls(enriched breads, brioche, sticky buns, etc) I do not...but then with those breads the initial baking temp is only 350. 

 

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

there isn't a universal "right" answer to your question.  Oven spring has many contributing factors, among them oven temperature, degree of fermentation, extent of steam in oven, and others.  If the stone and rack position that you are using in your new oven are producing the results that you want, then I'd say that you have already figured out the "right" placement for your oven.  If the top is browning too fast, you may want to shield the top with foil part way through the bake.  

Paul

breitbaker's picture
breitbaker

I realize every oven is different, and also the fact of many factors contributing to oven spring. What I was wondering, is, if all other factors are equal, will rack placement affect overall oven spring?.  With my old oven I noticed a significant bonus in height and "lightness" in my breads when the rack was at the bottom verusus in the middle. However, with that oven I also had no problem of the bottoms overbrowning.  

With the new oven, I thinking in particular of enriched breads such as soft dinner rolls or loaf pan breads(as far as the overbrowning on the bottom), that do not benefit from a dark bottom crust. 

I haven't had a problem with tops overbrowning...but it has seemed that when I load the loaves onto the middle shelf, they aren't quite as fluffy, high and light. Note that this is from a bread-a-phobe standpoint..i've been doing yeast baking several times weekly, for years...so I tend to be hyper-critical of this sort of thing... 

Just wondering what you all think...

cathy b.

noonesperfect's picture
noonesperfect

My electric oven has the heating element on the bottom.  Since the oven does not maintain a fixed temperature (it ranges between 15 degrees below to 15 degrees above the desired temperature during the bake), the element frequently comes on during the bake to bring the temperature back to the set level.  That burner is significantly hotter than the 450f I want for the oven temperature, and the closer to the element I place the bread, the more heat the bottom of the loaf is exposed to.  By moving the rack up, less direct heat is applied to the bottom of the bread, so it doesn't brown as fast.

The downside to moving the rack up, is that you may need to wait longer for the stone to equalize at the temperature you want.  I use an IR thermometer to test the temperature on the top of the stone to make sure it's where I want it to be before I load the loaves.  If the stone is a little colder than it was when it was lower in the oven, you will get less oven spring.

 

brad

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

I think that there is another question lurking behind your question, Cathy. It goes something like this: Is there a sweet spot in an oven that provides the right conditions to maximize oven spring? I believe that the answer to that question would be "yes". If so, then it would also be possible to answer your question in the affirmative, as well. I say that because adjusting the rack location will bring the bread closer to, or further from, the sweet spot, thereby affecting oven spring.

As to where that sweet spot is... Well, that's a whole 'nother question.

Paul

breitbaker's picture
breitbaker

This is exactly what I was thinking....It would seem in my old oven...though it had problems...I had definitely found that "sweet spot".....and so I begin again...

 

cathyb.

jcking's picture
jcking

Cathyb,

Maybe we should consider steaming the oven with a relation to oven spring. The new oven may vent differently and therefore hold more or less steam.

Jim

breitbaker's picture
breitbaker

I would consider this to perhaps be the case, except for the fact that this happens even when I don't use steam (such as with egg/butter enriched soft doughs)..although now that I think of it, perhaps it just vents the steam from the dough itself faster......although it seems unlikely...