The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Deck Ovens - lots of questions

jwilder's picture
jwilder

Deck Ovens - lots of questions

I'm expanding my bakery from my rented kitchen with no commercial equipment into a full-sized bakery space and I'm upgrading to commercial ovens (finally!), proofers, etc. However, I'm very new to the commercial equipment world, and desperately need some professional opinions. 

I'm looking at Baker's Pride, Doyon, and Garland - these are the only three that seem to have stackable, modular deck ovens that will allow me to grow my baking capacity up and not take up more floorspace with additional ovens in the future. What I'm finding is that most deck ovens are labeled "pizza oven". Is there a difference between a designated "pizza oven" and one that can be used for all-purpose baking? I specialize in breads, pastries, and quick breads/muffins, will be hiring a cake artist in the near future, and most likely adding cookies and the like to the menu, so the ovens will have many various uses, none of which will be pizza.

I've been told to avoid convection ovens if possible because the strong air flow can dent breads and pastries, but as always, my budget is limited and anything other than convection is out of my price range. As of yet, I've not had the opportunity to bake in any commercial oven, let alone convection. Is this something I should be concerned about?

Also, any feedback either way on the above brands and their deck ovens? Other brands I should consider? Bad eggs to avoid? 

Thanks!

Crider's picture
Crider

I've never heard of a pizza oven that had steam, so that's one big thing I would take into consideration. Also, have you looked at Blodgett ovens? They are big in the pizza-oven market but also make bread ovens.

Costas's picture
Costas

Hi there and good luck!In europe one of the top brands which they can actually except bread can bake almost everything are MIWE.In second hand market you can find them for 10000 dollars and here is the link

http://www.miwe.de/product_baking_miwe_condo_en.html

proth5's picture
proth5

I did some baking in commercial convection ovens and while I like them for certain yeasted pastries - they are not the best for bread.  They do well for muffins, cookies, and cakes, though, so if you are mostly doing these with a "sideline" of bread, you may be happy with a convection oven.

It can be done, but it is difficult to steam the oven and this will impact many things in the quality of your bread.  You will want to get perforated pans to help with this and it would be helpful if you could turn the convection feature entirely "off" (and the Vulcan oven I used did not have this feature, it either had "low fan" - which was a pretty brisk breeze or "high fan".)

To me, it is discouraging to spend time creating a good dough and a good shape and then have trouble because of the oven.

But a deck oven is not going to be the best for cakes and if you don't want two ovens, might not be where to put your money.

If you are looking at deck ovens, some of them (like the MIWE  Condo which would be my choice if money weren't an object) have built in loaders.  If you are baking large quantities of hearth breads a loader is a godsend - it will always be less work than taking a peel and putting loaves in the oven.

You do want to make sure that any deck oven you buy has steam injection. There is no sense in compromising there.

Good luck with your choices - "the oven problem" is something where I spend a great deal of thought. I'm no expert, but I offer my observations.

Again, good luck!

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

I have limited experience with commercial ovens and I hope that those with more background will comment here.  This is what I do know;

A deck oven without steam is far less than ideal for bread unless you are baking a bunch of white bread in pans.  In that case just about any oven will work.  If you are dealing with whole grains and sourdough where you are counting on good oven spring you most definitely want steam and a deck oven without steam will disappoint you.

Jeff

mimifix's picture
mimifix

Deck ovens (aka pizza ovens) are fine for most baking. These ovens can be purchased second hand at a great discount. I owned an all-scratch full-line bakery and did all of my baking in 3 Blodgett stacked deck ovens.

For the amount of and kinds of bread you will be making, how important is steam injection?

jwilder's picture
jwilder

Thanks for all the feedback! I really appreciate it!

mimifix - I do a lot of artisan breads, so steam is essential. Unfortunately, I'm finding that a lot of brands don't offer steam any longer, which is both frustrating and extremely puzzling. 

ananda's picture
ananda

Hello jwilder,

I would not wish to underplay the importance of steam in the baking process for hearth-style Artisan breads.

However, the more significant factor to me, and thus why a deck oven cannot be surpassed for this style of baking is the conducted heat because the loaf sits directly on the heat source.

Actually some convection ovens have quite superb steaming facilities, vastly superior to many deck ovens, so long as the powerful fans can be delayed from being switched on in the early part of the bake.

I would also suggest that there is a difference between deck ovens for pizzas and for bread.   The type and solidity of heat required for baking pizzas is altogether different to that required for baking hearth-style breads, especially the large Miche style loaves which could not possibly be baked in a very hot oven, but require plenty of stored heat in the ovenstone to penetrate through to the middle of the loaf.

Best wishes

Andy

tn gabe's picture
tn gabe

To what extent is it possible to compensate for lack of steam injection by loading a deck style pizza oven full with higher hydration doughs? I generally scale my sourdoughs at 650g and would like a deck oven that will hold 16 loaves. Won't 10kg+ of 77% to 82% dough make plenty of steam on it's own?

I'm also in the market to upgrade from our premitted home kitchen to a seperate facility with commercial equipment. With our available capital & utility hookups (either propane or 440v 3phase), leaning in the electric deck pizza oven direction.

PeterS's picture
PeterS

BBGA.org/join

This is a small trade organization whose main mission is to develop and serve artisan, small to medium sized bakers/bakeries, culinary instructors and serious home bakers. They regularly organize and present seminars and classes dealing with all aspects of baking and business development for the craft baker. As a member you will have opportunities to interact directly (really!) with the likes of Jeff Hamelman, Peter Reinhart, Didier Rosada, Michael Suas, Craig Ponsford, Jory Downer, Amy Scherber, Leslie Mackie (to shamelessly name drop a few) and a multitude of (mostly) North America's best bakers--many of whom started from scratch and have dealt with the same challenges that you are.  more http://www.bbga.org/find_members If you are seriously considering opening a bakery, this organization will help you and likely spare you some grief.

TMBBaking's picture
TMBBaking

Love the post regarding Bread Bakers Guild of America, and it only took me a couple years to respond.  They're a great resource and bakers and educators come from all sizes and types of bakeries and schools.  Our bakery equipment company is located next door to The San Francisco Baking Institute (SFBI), run by Michel Suas.  Their instructors, of which Didier Rosada was an alumni, are excellent and can also be a good resource of information to match the product to the oven.  Lots of factors go into recommending the right oven for the job, but most important is asking lots of questions regarding menu/styles of bread, volume produced, amount of steam to use (crusty breads), or none at all.  We're here to help too and there will be a lot of questions going back and forth before a particular oven of any style is mentioned.