The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Help me deal with my horrible oven

gabicopter's picture

Help me deal with my horrible oven

Hey all,

First post on here! Name's Gabi, I'm currently a college student living in NE Ohio, but am looking to get some real bakery experience after I graduate. Right now I live in a pretty crappy little apartment with a tiny kitchen, and the oven is driving me absolutely nuts. It's incredibly difficult to get it to hold steam, it only has one rack, and it's hot as the devil's bum. I bought an oven thermometer which really helped out with the quality of my bread, but it still just bakes up way too quickly. For example, when I bake baguettes, I want to bake them at a high temperature and give them a full bake so that the crust forms up really well, but I always have to take them out too soon because the oven is too hot, even when I set it to a full 30-40 degrees F below what the recipe calls for. What ends up happening is the bread has a nice crispy crust when it leaves the oven, but by the time it cools, the crust softens up and by the next day can be somewhat chewy. Any advice on how to get and keep a really nice crust in a really terrible oven?


mwilson's picture

Hi Gabi. Welcome to TFL.

The crust softening is inevitable. Just like heat that goes where it isn't, the same occurs with moisture. The best way to retain a crust for longer is to dry it out as much as possible.

When the breads are done leave them in the oven with oven door ajar and let them cool completely. Overnight is best.

Storage is also important. Wrap in paper, never plastic bags. Do you have a bread bin? As they work very well.

Can I ask what is the lowest temp your oven can achieve and how are you creating steam?


rfusca's picture

Sounds like you might be pulling them out too early.  High hydration doughs, like many baguettes, need to stay in a bit longer to 'dry out'.  When you think you want to take them out, turn the oven off, crack the door open, and let them sit till cool.

In terms of it not holding steam, its common for home ovens.  Some are better, some are worse - mine is terrible and water pans and such just never produced enough.  You need to either bake in something covered like a pan or dutch oven or pipe steam in continously.

G-man's picture

The oven temperature sounds like it's really unstable, so getting a baking stone ought to help immensely. The thicker the stone, the longer it'll take to heat up, but the better it'll maintain the same temperature. That ought to get you started.

cardigan's picture
cardigan electric oven is ancient, doesn't like to maintain an even temp (even with the stone), and also like most home stoves lets the steam escape quickly. A dutch oven or the like may be a good way to go. See this thread for a discussion of different possibilities (Lodge dutch ovens of different sizes, GraniteWar roasting pans, etc.) if you're thinking of trying that method:

- Susanne

LindyD's picture

Since you are renting the apartment, Gabi, you should let your landlord know the oven is overheating and needs to be checked by a professional.  Could be something as simple as replacing the thermostat.  Follow up the phone call with a letter confirming your call and repair request, and keep a copy.  

Ohio law does require the landlord to:

Maintain in good working condition all electrical, plumbing, heating and air conditioning systems, fixtures and appliances which the landlord has supplied or is required to supply.