The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Deck Oven Choices

t-man's picture

Deck Oven Choices

hi, all... i'm about to begin a new adventure.  i'm a geologist by trade- worked in the environmental industry for years.  but i'm half italian, and i grew up learning how to cook and bake from my grandma and her sisters.  i recently quit my geology job and went to a culinary school in rome for 3 months to learn how to make pizza al taglio, among other styles (wood fired, alla pala, tonda, etc.).  a location has come up that i need to jump on, so i'm looking for some advice on setting up a bakery.  this post is concerend with ovens and associated equipment.

we're starting very small (1200 sq. feet).  and my plan is to develop a lunch business downtown in a medium sized city.  pizza al taglio by the slice and "tortano" (italian loaf filled with meat/cheese cooked in pans).  we'll sell the whole tortano loaves, as well as by the slice or "chunk".  after we get that machine running, i'd like to add sourdough to the mix.  i have a lot of confidence in my products.  my pizza rivals any pizza i've had in rome and people absolutely love the tortano.  i've mastered the sourdough, though not in commercial quantities.

we're trying to do this on a budget and my question is this... what kind of oven should i buy to cook the three different products?  basically, an all-in-one solution.  i've read tons of posts on here and am still having a hard time deciding.  gas/electric?  steam injected or not? size of decks?  i want to have the option of baking the following:

-pizza al taglio cooked in large rectangular pans

-pizza alla pala cooked directly on the deck

-tortano cooked in rectangular pans

-naturally leavened sourdough (in pans or directly on the deck?)

in addition... in order to produce good sourdough (tartine/old world style, naturally leavened), i've gathered that i'd be disappointed if i didn't have a steam injection system.  can i do this without spending $20,000?

should this be cooked on the deck or in pans? 

can i bake good tortano in pans in this type of oven? 

how high should my decks be? 

any guidance on how to determine how many decks/size of decks if i really don't know how much product we'll be producing? 

any advice on a baking schedule?  pizza dough is fermented two days in advance, so i can make an assumption that the dough will be ready every morning.  should i prepare tortano (labor intensive) the day before and store in refrigeration so it can go directly into the oven the next morning?  if so, what piece of equipment is that? 

lots of questions... any insights would be appreciated!


LindyD's picture

My suggestion is that you join the Bread Bakers Guild of America and ask your questions on their forum.

Ninety-five percent (or more) of the participants here are amatuer home bakers and just don't have the technical knowledge or expertise that you seek.

I think you'll find the pros at the BBGA most gracious and willing to share their knowledge.

Best of luck in your venture!

jim mccray's picture
jim mccray

I'm Jim McCray--live in Houston--Worked in the Geophysical business for 11 years and then became a technocrat for lastly--Enron---Own an 80 seat Italian Restaurant named "divino" with my son our website is you are familiar with Panera Bread then this might be of interest to you.  Two years ago we planned a new business---pizza-panini--Daily bread etc. for up-market young families here.  We bought a set of 3  Adamatic deck ovens which are the ones used by Panera when they first started.  They do everything---Truly state-of-the-art Top heat, bottom heat, steam , "stone" bottoms programable, individual processors and controls for each of the 3 decks.  The ovens hold (3) std 18x26 pans side-by-side.  All on an appropriate SS stand. They operate on 220VAC 3-phase.  We have decided to further our wine trade rather than do the other thing.  If you want to see what they are then go to the ADAMATIC or BELSHAW website where they are well-described.  The ovens are ready for truck shipment.  Please contact me----We can make a deal that would work for you.  I hope you will contact me.

t-man's picture

Hi, Jim... thanks for your message regarding the ovens.  i am interested in visiting with you about them.  my cell is .  would it be possible to email some photos?  i understand if it is packed on pallets this may not be a possibility... tom

jim mccray's picture
jim mccray

I also have two new Traulsen "2-door, "roll-in" refrigerators that you might work into the operation---One is glassed doors and is 6' ft high inside--the other is 2-door solid doors and is 5.5ft. inside.  The units are designed without shelves and are intended to "roll in" mobile sheet pan racks.  Either of them could be used as a retarder for your long-rise doughs.  They also can be operated at the optimum temp for retarding.  The controllers are micro-processor based.  We are using another one as a red-wine at 55degF. This was changed from the std 39degF. with a simple change of the controller.  Both of the units use "remote" condensing units which are not included.  This was a factory box that was intended for commercial use where we are used to remotely-located condensing units shere the heat is rejected to outside not into the space where more AC would be required to handle the heat from the units if they were operated with indoor condensing units.  These were also bought on the surplus market and i know can be worked into a b argain package.  My cell no is 713 703 2000

t-man's picture

thanks all for your comments... i've joined the BBGA and it is a very helpful community.

Costas's picture

Hi t-man,

i think that you have allready the technical answers(if not ask whatever you want)

First of all my advise is to find a job even unpaid for at least 3 months in a bakery and then decide.

Real world it s a total different thing

4 years ago i decided to open my bakery without have any prevvious experience (like you)

except fron some bread rolls recipes(i was a chef de cuisine before)

So i had to hire somone who was pro but that costed me 2000 euro per month,

because i  undersood tha if i ve tried to do anything by my shelf then it would be an absoloute failure.

After that because you  need at least 6 months to have someserious income, you have to start wholesales ofcourse in lower price,which

is means not the same  profit for you.

Right now we start at 11 pm and we finish 7am in the morning,producing each day 500 kilos of bread (1000 pieces)

plus cookies ,pastrys etc.

Can you live with this for your rest of your life?And imagine that this is the good scenario....

So my friend ask whatever you want free and think twice before you gonna start the bakery project!

See ya and good luck!

PS If you ask me if i would tried to do this  again,

my answer it would be a hell NO!

acrosley's picture

Hi t-man,

When  you have a chance, take a look at Empire's MiniTube Deck Oven.  It's perfect for the types of products you're looking to make and it's made for tight spaces.  You can find it on our website here:

Feel free to contact me with any questions about the oven or about getting started in general.  We've been serving the industry for over 35 years and we proudly support bakeries all over the country.


t-man's picture

thanks all for your comments/suggestions.

El Fante's picture
El Fante

Hi T-Man,

Have you decided on an oven yet?  Gas/Electric or so forth?  In my searches I've found that electric ovens can be a problem if you don't have the right electrical source, you might be getting power surges or failures if you don't have a great set up, so I'd make sure your shop is outfitted for electric.  Though, since your pizzas should only take 6-10 minutes to cook I'd say any variance in degree temperature shouldn't be a concern.  The stone should be able to retain heat well enough.  My oven goes up to 600 degrees, so you need to make sure you are certain how hot you want your stone to be.  You can get a wood fired oven up to 600-700 degrees easy which is great for pizzas, so that might be an option?  Gas can be expensive.

Do you have any pizza oven builders in your area?  Your venture sounds great, I'd like to hear more about it!  What sort of breads are you planning to make?