The Fresh Loaf

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Home oven for baking & selling bread

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hazimtug's picture
hazimtug

Home oven for baking & selling bread

Hi Baker Friends,

I am trying to come up with a home operation to bake and sell bread from home.  I'm in Michigan, so it'd be under the Cottage Food Law. My main reason for doing this is to test the waters and see if I can really scale up what I bake on a weekly basis (a few loaves- more like the Tartine style naturally leavened loaves) and see how my breads would sell even if in limited numbers. I am thinking maybe 10 - 15 loaves to be sold one day a week.

Without getting into other details, the home oven we have is a simple Frigidaire brand gas oven. It's been working fine for the type of breads I have been baking. I use two dutch ovens side by side to get two round loaves at a time. I tried baking one loaf on the top shelf and one on the bottom to see if I can bake maybe 4 loaves at a time, but it's too much juggling of heavy and hot dutch ovens plus the baking is not even (burned bottom, or not enough color on the top crust).

Given that, I am thinking I'd just bake 2 loaves at a time, which means using the oven for 5 - 6 hours straight in the 450 - 500 F range. That sounds like quite a bit of fuel consumption and I am also a bit worried about the oven itself whether it can handle that kind of abuse every week (in addition to the regular cooking we have to do). Finally, is there any health risk (i.e., carbon monoxide) associated with running the oven for that long (although I know that becomes an issue when you have incomplete combustion, which should not be the case for me)?

If anyone has any experience with this kind of home baking, I'd very much appreciate any feedback.

 

Thanks!

Hazim

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Hi , Hazim

There is no escape from the shortcomings of conventional gas ovens; you'll have to live with the fact that they bake uneavenly. I had a gas oven, and alternating breads up and down the racks to avoid scorched bottoms and pale surfaces is regrettably unavoidable. If you seriously want to dive in into commercial home baking, you either have to invest in an electric oven/ gas oven ( preferably fan assisted or better ,convection) with enough capacity to hold 6 loaves at a time, or suffer through a laborious routine of shuffling dutch ovens Up and down racks. If you choose option 1, you can bake on two shelves, and don't have to worry much about polltion or electricity/gas bill.

Oh, and try to seek an oven that has a self cleaning ability, as the electric instruments are often shielded. This gives you an additional bonus if adding steam to your oven, if you wish to bake free form loaves with different shapes on stones instead of dutch ovens only.

Best of luck!

chris319's picture
chris319

How about a countertop electric oven to supplement your gas oven? Bake two loaves side by side in the gas oven and two side by side in the electric oven. Not a small toaster oven but a commercial electric countertop oven that's wide enough for two loaves. For this you'll want to check out restaurant supply houses, of which there are several on line.

http://www.webstaurantstore.com/42715/commercial-ovens.html

If you're baking in dutch ovens (and they ARE heavy!) I don't know that you'd need convection, just make sure you have the correct voltage (you probably want 120 volts).

I just got a Dutch oven for baking sourdough boules. It is 8 1/2" in diameter on the bottom. I have ordered an 8" silicone rubber cake pan to sit inside on the bottom as a sort of liner -- silicone rubber so the loaves don't stick and to provide thermal insulation between the bottom of the loaf and the Dutch oven.

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

I haven't had bread stick to cast Iron. I just assumed it can't really stick because it is being cooked until there is too little moisture to allow it to stick.

I have over cooked my bottons twice. Once when I put the combo cooker on the bottom shelf and once when I baked to a darker brown than usual  and didn't put the pan inside the other pan for the second half of the bake. 

 

aafaraguna's picture
aafaraguna

Hi Hazim

I bake at home in VA, where we have the cottage law also.  To make this short, I have two electric ovens.  One is new, the other I bought used for $60.  The burners don't work, but I don't use them anyway.  I make Italian bread, 5 grain, cinnamon raisin, rye, baguette, and bagels.  I sell an average of 30 loaves every Saturday, and about 150 when the farmers market season starts.  I do this all myself.  I have trays that I got at  Walmart that fit side by side in my ovens.  That way I can bake 4 loaves at a time.  With both ovens going I can bake 8 of the same kind, or say 4 cinnamon raisin on my porch, and 4 five grain in the other.  I time my dough so that when one is done proofing, the one before it goes in the oven.  That way I don't waste time running an oven at 460 with nothing in it.  I have multiple timers set all over my kitchen.  It can get crazy, but is very doable.  I do all my baking in two days, pack as I go, then label.  Hope this helps, and good luck.