The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

The Oven Question (aka Problem)

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varda's picture
varda

The Oven Question (aka Problem)

Lately I have been pondering the impossible question.   How to up production in my tiny home bakery while still keeping it in the home.   Here are my wishes/constraints.

1.  I would like to be able to bake around 50 loaves for each sale in a two day period without freezing.   That is whole grain loaves the day before the sale, and everything else baked off in the morning of the sale.   That is around twice my current output.  

2. I would like to continue baking out of my house.   I have checked into renting kitchen space and the story isn't pretty.    Also, I tend to bake in the midst of things like making sure my son does his homework so I really don't want to be off somewhere else.  

3.  I'm not going to pay a lot of money for that muffler.  

4.  Small kitchen with very little potential for expansion. 

Right now, the oven is decidedly the bottle neck since I upgraded my mixer to an Assistent.   My current oven is GE gas, nothing special, which if I'm very careful can bake 6 hearth loaves at once using half sheets.  If I switch shelves and rotate in the middle of the bake, I run the risk of losing too much heat.   If I don't then I run the risk of scorching.   I don't intend to get rid of this oven (around 5 years old.) but think I might be able to add another one in the eating area which I would like to be as small as possible (as it will cut into our eating space) while still baking 12 loaves at a time. 

My investigations show that there are three types of ovens that might work:

1.   A double wall oven - like the Electrolux EI30EW45J S.   These need an enclosure, which given that I just want to plop the oven down in an eating area seems iffy.   Costs around $3K+.

2.  A single deck convection oven like the Vulcan VC4ED or Southbend EH/10SC.   The first is fairly massive.   The second looks amazingly small.   Can it really handle 5 half sheet pans with loaves on them, or even 4?    These are also in $3K+ range

3.  A large counter top model like the Cadco - XAF-193 - Line Chef Full Size Countertop.   This has four rack positions but at 13 inches tall could it handle even two fully loaded sheet pans?   This is a bit cheaper - around $2.5K.

All of the models above are convection ovens.   I know a lot of people use convection ovens happily, but isn't there an issue with loaves drying out too quickly and so losing full spring?    The Cadco has some sort of steam option - not sure what it is.  

Anyhow, that's as far as I've gotten.   Any suggestions, ideas, information?

Thanks so much!

-Varda

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Oh i wish i had an input to contribute, Varda. Most of these ovens i haven't heard of, let alone researched their potential. Anyway, i'd say go girl! and go for the countertop, i think; it seems like the least trouble. Make sure to have a steam injected oven, or else you can dry out your loaves quickly.

Aah the gas oven, i've had my share of its troubles. You'd better have another electric oven. I replaced mine, which wasn't old either, with an electric convection smallish oven, and i have not regretted it since. It bakes very evenly and conveniently. Mine is a gorenge.

I wish you the best of luck, no matter what choice you make.

-Khalid

varda's picture
varda

Maybe, but... Both proth (via message) and trailrunner below are pointing me to the Rofco oven.   Totally intrigued.   This may be it.   Stone, steam, looks like it could fit 12 loaves.   And small footprint.   Can it be?  Thanks Khalid.  -Varda

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

In another thread, Pat (proth5) mentioned that she was leaving to attend a trade show, so I asked her to take notes about any ovens she sees which fit your circumstances.  I don't know what she might come across but we can hope that something catches her eye.

If an oven, such as the Soutbend, mentions a number of racks, be sure to check the interior vertical dimension, too.  It may be able to bake 5 racks worth of pretzels but only 3 racks worth of boules or panned breads. 

I hope your query generates some useful information.

Paul

varda's picture
varda

but lots of space?   The Southbend I'm looking at has 11 rack positions, and comes with 5 racks, but thinking you couldn't get more than 3 half sheets in there, if that much.   Same issue for the Cadco - very short.   But this Rofco - maybe, maybe...Thanks Paul!  -Varda

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

Have you looked at them on Pleasant Hill's site ? If I were getting another oven..and believe me I would love to get more ovens :) I would sure get one of these. They have small to large and they have the steam thing on the side of each size. They look wonderful. 

I think Sylvia has the Cadco ???? I am almost sure...someone anyway has one and has posted frequently about it so you might query Cadco and see who pops up or send a message to Sylvia. Good Luck ! Glad your baking business is taking off !

I am going on a road trip to Canada and the NE starting Sat. and will be gone at least 3 weeks !! so no baking. c

varda's picture
varda

the more I stare at the pleasant hill site, the better this little oven looks.    Totally designed for the task at hand.   Plus looks like it could really handle 12 loaves at a time.   Fantastic suggestion!   How did you know about it?    Have a great trip north!   Coming this way?  -Varda

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

I saw it when someone on TFL posted about it and asked if anyone knew anything about it and wanted an oven with steam...I think that was it or else it was when I was looking at the mixer like you bought and saw it...anyway I can't stop looking at those ovens !  They seem to be the answer to it all. They are beauties with the glass doors...:) I sure hope you get one ! 

How do you like your mixer ?  I believe Floyd just got one too while he was in the US. 

We are driving to Niagara on the Lake and staying with family for 5 days...then Albany NY for 2 days with a cycling friend, then New Paltz  NY for 3 days with a cooking/baking  friend, then Suffern NY for 2 days with another cooking/baking  friend then 5 days in NYC ( we have a B&B in Flatbush Brooklyn) with family. We will meander home via Virginia Beach...we will be doing a LOT of cycling and checking out bakeries and wineries and generally having fun.

Any suggestions will be most welcome !!   c 

varda's picture
varda

I love my mixer.  That said, sometimes with a thick dough the bowl turns and the dough goes up against the hook and just sits there and nothing gets mixed.   I have to push it off over and over again with a spatula until I can get it going.   Somewhat vigorous upper body activity if you can believe it.   Thinking over this oven issue.   The Cadco has it's good points as well.   I know Janet has a smaller one.   Not sure if it is just a smaller model of the same thing or not.  I tried chatting with customer service at Tundra restaurant supply.   The guy knew the words on a spec sheet, nothing more, and then got irritated when I kept asking questions.   Excuse me.    There don't seem to be any local businesses that sell commercial ovens.  It's all done over the web.   So very hard to get any questions answered, and no way to try things out.  What's a tiny baker to do?  Your trip sounds great.  Sure you'll have a blast.  -Varda

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

Would be enough of a complaint to turn me off of that mixer. It will be a 20qt Hobart or nothing :)  I don't know about the Cadco. I know Sylvia's if a small one and she does love it but not for what you want. It is SO hard to have commercial in a home setting. It is why I have decided to please me and let the rest go. We are too much in to our travel and family and I just can't be tied down...only one life to live ! 

As far as reviews of the oven I suggested I would simply ask at Pleasant Hill...who has bought it and I want to talk to them...point blank. If they can't or won't tell you then suggest they contact the other buyers and ask them if they will talk to you...if that still doesn't work then walk away. You have no choice. If it is a great product and lots/some buyers then they should be more than willing to let you talk to them . I would have no interest in talking to a store rep...blah blah blah..they know nothing. You have to talk to a doer not a salesperson !!   Let me know how it goes...I am most interested in those ovens. If my Miele double ovens ever go I will be interested in something for...BREAD !!  ( with steam ) LOL !  c

Skibum's picture
Skibum

. . . captivated me!  We have farmer's markets in both Canmore and Banff and I have dreamed of perhaps selling loaves, but the home oven can't deliver the capacity. These Rofco electric stone ovens look like they can deliver capacity and seem well priced and have a pretty small footprint:

http://www.pleasanthillgrain.com/stone_oven_artisan_electric_stone_hearth_bread_baking.aspx

Well it certainly has this old skibum thinking!  This could be an interesting project for a retired skibum and I figure 30 loaves a day x 2 days @ $5/loaf and I could perhaps pay off the oven in a summer -- maybe . . . Well an intriguing thought.

Regards, Brian

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

Not just Khalid...and Varda ...and.....now Brian ! We already have Hanseata who has done it for years.   This has to be a record for all the time I have been on TFL. Fledgling bakers taking off with their newly formed wings ( loaves). What a grand flight we shall all get to witness. The birthing of the TFL bakers in the market place. I sure wish you all the luck. Your loaves are amazing !!  c

Skibum's picture
Skibum

. . . this is just a pipe dream at the moment, but is sure does make a person think!

Best regards, Brian

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Hi Varda,

I will comment over here on your options/questions.

Derek bakes with a large Cadco (Yozza) and is a professional baker. You might PM him and ask his opinion since he has a lot of baking experience and can tell you better how the large Cadco works though I think the model he uses is even larger than the one you mentioned above.

My Cadco is the XAF-113.  Bakes only in convection mode hence I turn it off when steaming.  The steam function on my little model is merely a container of water that sits on a shelf beneath the oven that has a hose that attaches to the back of the oven that I have to manually operate via a button on the front of the oven.  Water is dispersed over the fan and heat coils and spread throughout the oven.  Works and in easy to maintain.  I think the larger model is a bit more sophisticated in steam distribution….

If you look on the PHG site you will see the Rofco steam trays.  They are about18" long and about 2" wide and are used by heating them up during the preheat mode and then your hot water is added when loaves are loaded.  They are designed to sit NS on the shelves on the sides.  Due to the shelves being stones - a steamer is required for each shelf.  They are very heavy and well made.  You might ask Pat how she likes hers.  (I bought one for my new oven but it didn't fit with my stone so she bought it off of me and loves it.)

I bake in both my Electrolux and my Cadco.  I get a darker crust when using the Cadco.  Both ovens seem adequately insulated so the moisture does stay in the ovens.  Despite the convection mode the loaves do not dry out BUT I am thinking that is due to the fact that I bake hot with most of my loaves - 475° preheat followed by 425° or 400° depending on the loaf I am baking.  Panned loaves bake at 350°.  Convection bakes faster than conventional bake mode.  

I should mention that the convection in the Cadco is like a wind tunnel - very strong in comparison to the Electrolux convection mode.

The other person you might PM is Karin - hanseata.  SHe sells her loaves and I know she has used several different ovens over the years so I would imagine that her experience would be quite helpful too.

Good Luck!

Janet

 

varda's picture
varda

Hey Janet,  Since I posted, I've looked into this some more.  I spoke with a very nice person at Pleasant Hill Grain about the Rofco.  Since getting less skeptical, I am now more.   There are a number of issues - one -you can only see the top shelf through the window.   I guess that might work once you get to know the oven, but it gives me the creeps.   Two, I'm not sure they've thought through the steam thing.   The dimensions of the steam tray are 18 by   1 5/8 by 2 3/4 inch.   It lies on the stone.   You get one for each shelf and preheat them with the oven and then load the loaves and pour in the water.   I have two issues with this.   Since you load three shelves and then pour into three steam trays, that seems like a long time to leave the door open, and also seems a little unwieldy and also makes me anxious about burning my arm or my kid on the open preheated door.   Also, they don't give the dimensions of the baking sheets, and she didn't know them.   If they are the same size as the stone, then you can't put the loaves on them and then slide the sheet into the oven, as the steam tray is sitting on top of the stone, preheated.   If they have thought this through, the baking sheets would be the size of the stone minus the width of the steam tray.   I hope she is able to answer me.   Third, as I'm sure you are aware, that bottom shelf is pretty close to the floor.  It hurts my back just thinking about it.   Ouch.   Of course there are many good things - this is a bread oven rather than an all purpose oven, and so is optimized for bread.   It has a very nice small footprint, and uses (I think) a lot less energy than the Cadco.   Of course a big minus, is no service in the United States.   Would hate to think about it breaking in some way, and not having a way of fixing it.   But maybe it is so simple it wouldn't break.   I have watched several youtubes (I think from Netherlands) of people happy with the oven.   None of them seem to use steam, and you can tell.   It seems frustrating to me that they have designed this oven with steam as an afterthought.   I hope I'm wrong and that someone will tell me why I'm wrong.   The main thing bothering me is this seems very much a hobby oven, and I would like to use it to up my production, so it may just be a mismatch.   The Cadco on the other hand is definitely targeted toward pro baking and so seems better designed from that point of view.   It is an all purpose oven, not a bread oven.   I'm a bit perplexed about the steam.   As far as I can understand it, you hook up a water source directly to the oven (not sure I could even do this with my sink set-up but I'm looking into it) and then press a button and presto chango steam - which they call humidity.   I think it's the real deal though.   I saw one Cadco video which showed a very nicely browned and opened loaf coming out of the oven.   Did they make it in the WFO in the back?  The Cadco is a lot bigger and would be hard to sandwich in, but that may be the best choice.   I still need to find out if there is clearance for two shelves with bread on them.   It all depends on how low the lowest shelf is, a number which is not in any of the literature I've found.   Oh man I've gone on here.   Thanks so much for your input.   It is right on target.   I'll pm the people you say I should.   -Varda

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

I am totally with you on not being able to view my breads as they bake.  I am always adjusting temps based on how the loaves are turning out.  Visibility is a huge factor for me.  Both the Cadco and Electrolux provide excellent viewing.

I am also totally with you about bending holding heavy loaves or my Lodge loaf pans hence the Cadco on it's rolling shelf and the Electrolux that we had built in where my pantry shelves used to be.  I love that the Electrolux has shelves that roll out too.  Very nice indeed.

I know it drove me nuts when I had to do research for my ovens.  So much information to plow through and nowhere to view good commercial ovens.  A huge relief once I made my decisions and I am happy with what I have.  

Good Luck,

Janet