The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Heat from below, above or both?

Andeee's picture

Heat from below, above or both?

Hi everyone!

First I'd like to say that I've been reading this site for a while now, and it has given me masses of useful info. Thanks!

One thing I've not been able to find information on, however, it the direction of heat. My old oven was basically a big grill, having only a top element. I now have a new oven that has both, and I have been using the lower element only. In the manual it lists using both the upper and lower element as "static heat", and brick ovens, while primarily heated from below, reflect heat from all directions.

Does anyone have experience of doing this? Is it a good idea? I'm a little worried that it will dry out the dough too quickly and prevent a good oven spring.


Thanks for any feedback!


BoyntonStu's picture

One lesson tht I learned it to place a sheet on another rack between the heating element and the sheet on which the loaf is baking.

If the baking sheet 'sees' the heating element, it will get much hotter than the oven set temperature as the air temperature is rising to its set position.

This advice is for both  above and below elements.

nicodvb's picture

and much closer to the bottom heating element. Heat from below is what can make a loaf spring wonderfully.

pmccool's picture

I had an oven for a couple of years that used both the upper and the lower heating coils, by design.  All that is needed is a bit of experience to find out where to place the racks, higher or lower.  You might endure a couple of bakes with either the top or the bottom of the loaves being browned more than you want but that makes it pretty easy to decide to move a rack down or up.  As the others have noted, you can also shield the bread from the direct heat.


Andeee's picture

Thanks for the feedback. I use a baking stone (only a thin one made of slate but it works well), and I've found that the bottoms are browning much faster than the tops, I had considered sliding them onto a baking sheet half way through, but I also thought that the top element may help to even the heat.

I'll give it a try with my next batch of baguettes!