The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

What did I do wrong?

sidinggirl's picture
sidinggirl

What did I do wrong?

Thought sourdough baguettes would make good sub sandwiches. Never made them before and they came out very blond. Used Peter Reinhart's book San Francisco sourdough substituting some ww and rye flour for the bread flour. I'm happy with the inside of the bread and the way it tastes but why on earth is the bread so pale? Everyone else's look so nice and brown. Baked at 450 degrees for 12 minutes. Pulled out parchment and baked an additional 16 minutes. Thought it was taking too long and not browning. Internal temp was 205. Used a baking sheet due to length, steam pan with 1 cup water added. I didn't spray them with water because I wasn't sure if I was supposed to.  Need advise :) Thanks!

Jon OBrien's picture
Jon OBrien

...and/or for not long enough. But that's just as a general comment. I don't make baguettes.

Also, one cup (US measuring cup I assume) of water seems a lot to me but I don't know what effect that might have had on the bake as I tend to be frugal in that department. Moisture is supposed to add to the colour, I seem to recall, but too much might adversely affect things.

What's the overall weight of the dough? Perhaps overloading your (domestic?) oven has thrown timings out.

But I must say that I've seen equally pallid baguettes in French boulangeries and if you like the result I wouldn't fret too much about the colour. The eye might take the first bite but the mouth takes the rest.

Jon OBrien's picture
Jon OBrien

The loaves you previously posted a photograph of looked good but none of them had the look of a 'deeply-baked' loaf. Is the 450 degrees you quote what you're telling the oven you want or is it what a thermometer is telling you you have? The two rarely coincide, so if it's the former, I'd suggest you buy a good oven thermometer to be sure. You may be baking at a much lower temperature than you think.

Alternatively crank the oven up as high as it will go and watch the bread like a hawk. How adventurous are you?

dobie's picture
dobie

sidinggirl

Jon makes some very good points all around.

It sounds like you did everything right and I think Jon might be right about the oven temp. A cheap oven thermometer will let you know.

I think a cup of water in a steam tray would probably last about 10 minutes before evaporated, which would be appropriate. Spray or not on top of that as you see fit. One experiment after another.

I don't know how much Rye and WW you are swapping out from the white flour (Bread or AP?,btw), but if the flavor is good, I don't think the flour is the issue, nor the steam, but rather the temp.

I know if I were purposely trying to create a blonde/tan loaf, I would bake fresh dough (not aged) and at a lower temp.

If you aged your dough (or 'retarded' it - as they say - in the fridge for a day or so), I believe the sugars would be increased and the crust would have more of a 'reddish' dark brown compared to a fresh dough. That would also develop nice flavors in the crumb as well.

I don't think using a sheet pan is at fault either (altho, I would suggest to try removing the pan half way thru and finishing the bread on the bare oven rack).

All in all, it sounds like everything is right but the temp.

Try preheating your oven to the maximum temp and bake at that (or slightly lower) for the first 10 minutes. Then reduce the temp to 475 or 450F for the last half. Like Jon says, watch it like a hawk.

dobie

RoundhayBaker's picture
RoundhayBaker

...then the oven temperature is most likely too low. It's the first thing to check before trying anything else. Jon & dobie's advice is very good. Buy or borrow an oven thermometer - digital readout sheathed probes are the most versatile - and check the oven calibration (compare the temp stetting on the dial against the readout). Also check the oven seal. It may be old and need replacing. Oven calibrations do drift with time and with use. It's a common problem that not many home bakers are aware of.

If that isn't the issue then move on to another of Jon's points. Is the oven's temperature dropping because of the sheer volume of bread you're baking? Maybe try baking in two batches? Or a half batch? Again, if your oven is elderly or under-powered (one of the elements might be failing), then it could struggle with the six loaves in your photo. A commonly used trick that compensates for this problem is to turn the oven up 10-20 degrees higher than your target temperature (do this a good ten to fifteen minutes before you're ready to bake). That extra heat helps compensate for the oven temperature drop created by large batches of dough. 

You didn't mention if you're using an baking stone  or not. Commercial bakeries use stone slabs; wood-fired ovens use stone or brick. The reason for this is that that the slabs act as heat stores which deliver the required energy direct to the bread. It's hard to imagine anyone successfully baking true baguettes without using one. I've used marble chopping boards, granite offcuts from worktops, slate roofing tiles, solid steel (definitely the best) and so on. There are also commercially made (but expensive) baking stones which are no better than any of the alternatives I mentioned. Bake on any of these, slid onto a rack in the oven's middle shelf and warmed to the correct temperature. You don't need direct contact between bread and stone. Using a baking sheet or parchment in-between is okay if you're worried about the mess, but get the bottom-sides of your BGs as close to that constant heat source as possible. Baking on a rack placed above the slab won't work.

Btw, I suspect you don't need to worry about the precise amount of water. You're going to have to remove the steam tray anyway if you want a true crunchy crust. 

Finally, have a go at scoring your BGs using the traditional method. The slashes in your photo are too transverse. It's not about the look of it, if you score properly, your baguettes will open out and bloom wonderfully. There are excellent video guides on TFL that show you how to get this right. Check out the video link at the top of this page.

Good luck.

 

dobie's picture
dobie

Yes, Roundhaybake, a simple oven thermometer is invaluable.

And that's a good point about the degradation of oven seals. I hadn't thought of that.

While I agree with almost all you say, there are a few points I would like to nit-pick.

While I am well tired of spending countless dollars on yet another stone that will just eventually crack, I am convinced (as you say), that steel plate is the best. Hopefully, this year I will find mine.

And while it may be hard to imagine one baking a decent baguette without one, I present this as evidence. To my experience, this was a pretty decent (and delicious) baguette. This was baked much as sidinggirl is doing, half on a sheet pan, (altho) the other half naked on the rack.

The other point to nit-pick, would be about steam trays. I know everyone's oven and situation is different and must be dialed in, but with that in mind, here is what I do (and why).

Obviously we are all fearfull of shattering our glass oven door windows. So, laying down a towel before adding or removing water is a smart idea.

For me, the simpler thing to do is this. Take hot (or cold) tap water (for me, about 1 3/4 cups hot) and pour it into the steam tray at the bottom of a cold oven. No danger there.

I preheat the oven to max (just what I usually do), and by the time the oven is heated, the steam is simmering and billowing quite well.

Then, in goes the dough and by the time I turn the heat down in 10 minutes or so (and perhaps rotate the sheet), the steam is done, water evaporated. Nothing to remove from the oven, no towels involved and no risk to the door's glass window. Just the easiest way I could figure out how to do it.

Don't get me wrong, I totally understand where you are coming from and you offer sound advice. These are just my work arounds within my own particular circumstances.

dobie

RoundhayBaker's picture
RoundhayBaker

...you're worried about the oven door glass shattering? I thought they were designed to withstand temperatures in excess of 500F? And they're also designed to cope with large volumes of liquid (for example the juices from a large joint of meat or turkey). I'm pretty sure there is no risk of shattering the glass with the relatively minor amounts of water used in a steam tray (if there were then you'd have a dangerous, faulty and sub-standard oven). 

I can appreciate not wanting to start messing about with sliding steam trays into a very hot oven. But doesn't heating cold water in a cold oven means two things? First, that the oven itself will take longer (and use more energy) to reach the desired temperature. And you will be boiling your water away long before the oven is ready to bake. The important thing to remember is that the steam is generated at the surface of a body of water. That water's ambient temperature has little influence compared to that of the oven. The super-hot air in the oven quickly become saturated with steam even if you insert a tray of cold water with the bread. Some bakers toss in ice cubes because it just doesn't make that much of a difference and it's less messy.

It might be worth checking out one of the many, many discussions on this forum about steam in ovens.

dobie's picture
dobie

roundhaybake

I have no personal experience with shattered glass oven door windows, so all of my information is second hand at best. Perhaps it is just urban myth that I have fallen for.

However, I do know that should it happen it would be a fairly expensive repair ($500 or more according to the repairman I spoke with). That being said, if there is an easy way to reduce the risk, it is a way I would follow. And yes, I know about laying a dry towel on the glass (which I used to practice when I took such risks), but I think this way is even easier and safer.

My choice of tap water into a broiler tray on the oven bottom when I start the pre-heat seems to satisfy both steam and safety requirements of not only my oven door window, but myself as well.

By trial and error, I have found the amount of water that when applied as such gives me the ten minutes of steam I require and no more. The practice requires no further handling of the tray until I remove it once the oven is cool.

And yes, I have investigated numerous (tho I'm sure not all) threads on TFL, as well as elsewhere regarding the issue. I have read numerous warnings and even some 'supposed' first hand accounts of such tragedies. With all that (again,'supposed') knowledge in mind, I stand by my choice as safe and easy insurance.

I think you are right that there should be a some inefficiency in that the oven might take slightly longer to preheat. But since my oven comes to maximum temp in about 15-18 minutes, it's not something I would worry too much about. Energy costs would be pennies at most, and again, cheap insurance.

As I understand it, even hot water from a hot steam tray in a hot oven could provide sufficient contrast (at 212F) in temperature to a glass door window that is heated to 525F (or so) to crack it. This comes from my Bosch repairman who warned me of such practices and claims to have repaired several shattered glass door windows caused by such practices. I don't think Bosch materials would be of a sub-standard quality, but who knows? Again, it might all just be myth, but I see no reason for the repairman to lie to me (quite the opposite in fact).

Regarding tossing ice cubes or water (hot or cold) on the oven bottom, I can assure you that at least the Bosch ovens are not designed for such. The greater risk is to the wiring to and the Ignitor element itself (when gas fueled).

I used to follow such practice of water or ice on the bottom and once I started the practice, it was within a short time that I needed to replace the Ignitor. It's the only repair I've ever had to do to the oven . Twice in one year in fact, until I stopped the practice. That might just be an idiosyncracy of Bosch design, but I doubt it.

It's been many years since I have ceased tossing in water or ice on the oven floor for steam and so far have had no more failed Ignitors. The cause and effect were obvious (at least to me and the repairman).

You might be right that the ambient temperature of the water (however introduced) might not be of much consequence in generating steam, but I would suspect that the greater the contrast, the greater the drop in initial oven temp which I wouldn't find desirable. But I could be wrong.

I would be willing to test my oven's preheat time with my normal tap water tray and without, if useful.

If you would care to experiment with any temperature of water on your hot glass oven door window, I would be very interested in the results.

I can be convinced otherwise than my understanding, but some trusted second hand experience would be the start.

I'm not trying to be difficult, but I think my process is well reasoned and since you asked, I gave you all the details that went into it. But I could be convinced otherwise. But for a $500 bill, I would have to be 'mighty convinced'.

Thanks for the questions and input.

dobie

alfanso's picture
alfanso

Hi Roundhay,

Like dobie I have no personal experience with an oven door cracking or shattering when water is poured on it.  But my take is that I'm not willing to risk the sad event.  Even water that is boiling when introduced into the oven for steam is hundreds of degrees cooler than the inside glass on the door.  When I pour that near boiling water into the lava rock pan below my baking deck I don't want the worry of errant water either being mis-poured onto the glass nor bubbling out of the pan onto the door.  It is simple enough to add an extra layer of caution by placing a terry towel over the glass, even tempered glass.  After a few times it becomes second nature to do so, and alleviates almost any potential for a costly repair.  

My best guess is that an occasional spatter of liquid on the door is relatively inconsequential, but any more than a modest amount of water is a potential for disaster.  I'm more risk averse than not.  I even look both ways two times when crossing the streets too ;-)

There is anecdotal evidence on TFL of that mishap.  http://www.thefreshloaf.com/search/node/glass%20shatter%20oven%20door

My methodology is to have my lava rock pan sit just above the lower heating element and just below the baking deck.  It heats up the entire time that the oven is on.  Just after the dough is loaded I slide the rack that the pan is on out so as to get access to it.  In this case the pan is mere inches away from the glass in the door.  2 cups of near boiling water is then poured into the pan.  The heated surface of the lava rocks in conjunction with the pan itself creates an instant burst of a lot of steam.

alan

sidinggirl's picture
sidinggirl

I received a surprise christmas gift (late) from my brother. It's a lodge cast iron enameled Dutch oven, shaped like an apple, in green (my favorite color). A little on the small side for baking bread but...I could break my usual 2 loaf recipe into 3 smaller loaves maybe.

Picking my dad up from the airport at noon tomorrow. What are your thoughts on waking up at 3 am to bake 3 small loaves in the Dutch oven instead of the whole tray/ water thing? 

My steel plate didn't come yet but I'll wait patiently. The day I texted my friend he had been working for 31 hours straight : ( He always follows through so I will wait patiently. Once that comes through I'll jump back into the stem convo but for now looking for opinions on the Dutch oven method.

Thanks!

dobie's picture
dobie

sidinggirl

I would think any dutch oven would be useful. How many quarts is it?

As long as it's at least a few, it'll do. I would just loaf up to whatever would seem to fit. Hopefully, it'll be bigger than a roll. If you have parchement paper, cut out a circle for the bottom and all should be well.

Don't forget, with a little oil and some rice flour, semolina or cornmeal on the inner edges, you could let them spring up the sides, sort of like a circular loaf pan.

Depending on the expected rise time and how far it is to the airport and back, why not let them proof while you go pick him up and bake when you guys get back?

Let me know.

dobie

sidinggirl's picture
sidinggirl

It's the same diameter as my round basket (when the basket is full). So thinking if I make slightly smaller loaves it should fit. 

Well, if the first one doesn't turn out in the Dutch oven out I'll end up with two smaller pizza stone baked loaves. I really want these to turn out well. Haven't seen my dad since July and hoping he likes the bread. Also whipped up some soup. If there's any other soup lovers out there could post recipe in off topic :)

 

 

 

dobie's picture
dobie

sidinggirl

When baking in a DO, if the interior is lightly oiled and dusted then it shouldn't stick, which would be my main concern.

Whether you place the dough into a preheated DO or a cold one, either way will work pretty well. I would start out with the oven as hot as possible and then when you put the DO with the dough in, reduce the heat to about 475F (maybe a little lower, as it's fairly small). Bake it with the lid on for the first half or so and then remove the lid and reduce the heat down to 435F or so for the final.

I wouldn't worry too much. Just keep an eye on it and respond however it makes sense to, heat and time wise. Even if most everything went wrong, it will be fine for dunking with soup and I'm sure you and your Dad will love it. And there's nothing wrong with baking open on a stone, but I understand wanting to use the DO your brother gave you.

dobie

dobie's picture
dobie

sidinggirl

When you get a chance, how did it work out?

dobie

doughooker's picture
doughooker

I had a similar problem with loaves that wouldn't brown no matter what. Is the crust kind of tough and leathery rather than crispy?

I don't know how you make up your starter, but try cutting down substantially on the amount of levain you use. If you make your starter by adding stored levain to a flour & water slurry, try using less levain. Once the starter is made up, use the same amount. You will need to bake several test loaves until you get it right. Try baking a throwaway loaf without any starter at all and see if it browns, or make a yeasted loaf using the recipe printed on a packet of yeast. It is possible that the levain/starter is metabolizing the sugars in the dough, thus there is no sugar left to caramelize and turn brown.

Also check your oven temp with a thermometer.

Is there a reason your sentences don't have subjects?

sidinggirl's picture
sidinggirl

I really appreciate all of this feedback! The sub sandwiches were for my boyfriend's memorial gathering so I went straight there and didn't have time to respond yesterday. Everyone liked them so much I didn't have any to bring home :)

On sentence/ paragraph structure. Not my strong suit. I'll work on this.

Oven temperature...that could be the problem. Everything points in that direction. I'm staying in a rental now. We own the rental so I can remember buying the appliances about 10 years ago. My dad, brother and I completely restored a 1915 two family home. Since we were already a little over budget on the project we selected the cheapest possible appliances in stainless steel. Most of the tenants here have been men in town on business. Not to be stereo-typical, but the oven didn't get much use. The seal looks really good but I bet the calibration is off. I'm not sure where to buy an oven thermometer but that is what I'm going to try first before adjusting the recipe. 

Adding additional water to the cold oven seems like a very good idea. I'll do that next time. Dobie, your bread :) That's exactly how I thought the bread should look (and didnt). I'll keep trying until it does. 

Never thought of transfering them to the bare oven rack, that would have been the way to go. I couldn't afford a baking stone so I've been using a pizza stone. My brother had granite counters put in a few years ago. One of the pieces was mis-ordered and he kept it. I wonder if he still has it somewhere. If I were to look for steel, how thick should the piece be? 

My slashes...yup, they definitely need work. I'll watch that video. They're also offering a two day sourdough school around here in April. The class is expensive but I think it would be worth it. 

I put 3 baguettes (260 ish grams each) at a time. Made 8 total, so baked in 3 batches. Used very little whole wheat and rye flour. 964 g bread flour, 170 mixed ww, rye. 

I'll start with the basics first. Oven temperature  (and no, I'm not adventurous, lol, quite boring) and steam tray in cold oven. If those don't solve the problem I'll work my way into more suggestions. 

I really appreciate all the help here guys!

 

 

 

 

dobie's picture
dobie

sidinggirl

I'm glad the bread went over well.

I like the percentage of WW and Rye to Bread flour.

I'm looking for 1/4 plate steel, but I have heard of people using up to 1/2 inch thick. But unless it is going to live in the oven (maybe not a bad idea), I want to try 1/4 first as it would weigh less and be easier in and out.

Oven thermometers can be bought at most supermarkets for about $5, usually near the baking supplies.

Keep baking.

dobie

drogon's picture
drogon

FWIW: The ones I'm using are 10mm thick (that's closer to ½" than ¼) and are 530x330mm. They weigh a shade under 16Kg each.

-Gordon

dobie's picture
dobie

Good to know Gordon

That's about 35 pounds, which should be doable. Just a little more than a KitchenAid.

dobie

ps - I hope you're feeling better.

drogon's picture
drogon

I think the plates would be much smaller, so lighter. These are in one of my commercial ovens - GN 1/1 size.

It does take longer to heat up though.

 

Back to baguettes - I used to use a baguette tray in my ordinary oven which worked reasonably well - one of these: http://bakerybits.co.uk/baguette-baking-tray-four-up.html

I don't do baguettes in the oven with the steel plates in as they're left to right as it were, and while being able to make a baguette 520mm long might be an advantage, I've found that they roll off my transfer board and end up upside-down which isn't useful, however the Rofco which is slightly smaller works just fine as I can load them in long ways.

(I also don't do sourdough baguettes as not everyone likes sourdough here, but use an overnight sponge & dough method, but rather than a pinch of yeast, I use a teaspoon of my sourdough starter, but the bulk mix the following morning does use commercial yeast)

-Gordon

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

Hi sidinggirl. I have two slabs of granite, off-cuts from granite counter tops, in my electric oven, one on a lower rack and one on a higher rack. They're about an inch and a quarter thick, and have never cracked even a little bit (unlike the quarry tiles I started with which cracked and broke almost immediately). I have a pan on the lower shelf of the oven into which I pour hot water once the oven is pre-heated (to 475 or 500), and I also spray the loaves and the sides of the oven when I put the bread in. Just a little detail - the granite slabs are rough-side up in the oven. The polished side is too smooth and the bread might stick.

Most of my bread bakes up darker when baked on the top stone (i.e. the one that is on the rack closer to the top of the oven), so half-way through baking a batch I rotate the loaves from top rack to middle rack, and from side to side.

dobie's picture
dobie

Thanks Gordon

Let me ask you this (as you have direct exerience). Do you think 1/4 inch plate would work as well as slightly thicker?

Obviously, if I could shed a few pounds it would be good for the ease of it, but if not as effective, then not worth it.

TIA

dobie

 

drogon's picture
drogon

but if this website is anything to go by:

http://www.bakingsteel.com/shop/baking-steel

it would seem to be just fine. (Although they also have a ½" version too)

(However I'd not pay that much for a lump of steel - if you know a local steel stockholders who can cut to size then use them instead!)

Mine are seasoned/blackened with rapeseed oil which I think you call canola...

-Gordon

dobie's picture
dobie

Thanks Gordon

I just meant that you had 'steel' experience.

I'm pretty familiar with cast iron and to a lesser degree carbon steel, but I think your rapeseed oil treatment sounds proper (and yes, it's called 'canola' here).

Thank you for the interesting link. And you are right, no need to pay so handsomely for such a basic commodity. But of course theirs is seasoned with their 'proprietary' oil ;-).

Thanks again.

dobie

sidinggirl's picture
sidinggirl

An old friend of mine is a semi truck mechanic and he's always talking about welding things. Sent him a text earlier to see if he could supply a piece of steel plate.

Also picked up an oven thermometer, can't wait to see the results. Going to wait till tomorrow but I'll post the results here.

On a side note, not sure if I should start a new thread but I wanted to make a rye starter. Can I just use some of my existing refrigerated mother starter and start feeding it with rye flour or would you suggest starting a new seed culture from scratch? 

Thanks again for all the help everyone. 

Jon OBrien's picture
Jon OBrien

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sidinggirl's picture
sidinggirl

Thanks Jon! 

dobie's picture
dobie

sidinggirl

Sounds like your plate is on the way. Good for you.

That being said, No, No, No. Don't wait. Fire that puppy up now (if you're gonna be home). And please let us know the oven temp results.

Regarding Rye starter - you can do it either way. Just split your mother starter and just start feeding one half of it Rye. Or, begin a new starter with the Rye directly.

Personally, I'd probably do the later, just for the fun of it. Rye will start easy. Bob's Red Mill Dark (whole grain, reportedly) is the most common in the US markets.

Better yet would be to get some whole Rye berries and whack them up in a coffe mill (if nothing else). Either way, I would imagine you would attain quick results (3-5 days to frothing).

Just remember not to feed it until you see activity (bubbles on the surface), stir it a few times a day regardless, and don't discard at first (until it is well underway or otherwise unmanageble).

Either way will probably work out just fine.

dobie

alfanso's picture
alfanso

But first, a word from our sponsors!  Your shaping is absolutely fabulous.  If you haven't made baguettes before (or even if you had), you nailed the shape of the baguette just about perfectly.  So congrats there.

Scoring the baguettes - you are going way more transversal on the scores than you should.  The scoring should be ALMOST straight down the length of the baguettes with only a slight offset from top to bottom of each individual score line.  All scores should start and end in the exact same position on the dough's cylindrical surface.  Find the Ciril Hitz baguette scoring video on youtube.  He has a wonderful explanation and demonstration of scoring them.

Oven temp management - yes, do get some kind of baking surface - something that can store a lot of heat and which can live on your oven rack from the moment that you fire it up, if not permanently.  Many, including myself use unglazed clay tiles, although steel is probably a better bet, but can be costly.  The thicker and more dense the product the more heat it can store.

But why care about storing heat if you turn the oven on and it reaches desired temp (once you calibrate)?  Well, the second that you open the oven door to load your dough, the oven starts to lose heat, which will need to be recovered.  The moment that you actually load the dough, the oven loses more heat because you've just introduced something into the box that is considerably cooler than the ambient temp.  Therefore, you want that heat stored and reflected back into the oven via the baking deck.  

And the deck will immediately start to transfer heat to the dough in a way that a cool baking sheet or hot oven air just can't.  It's the difference between putting you hand in a 400dF oven for a few seconds vs. touching the solid surface of a baking deck at 400dF for a microsecond.  BTW, my disclaimer - don't do that!

So, try heating the oven for the std. ~45-60 minutes in advance of the bake, and at a temp that is perhaps 25dF hotter than you really wish to bake at.  And don't place the baking sheet that was sitting on the counter into the oven on top of the baking deck.  That will defeat the purpose of the baking deck.

Introduce your steam into the oven (look up Sylvia's steaming towels in TFL's search box for starters) ~15 minutes before you plan to bake. You want your dough to get an instant benefit of a steam bath upon entry into the oven box.  Try this without spraying the dough with water.

Also, my guess is that if you get more steam and a hotter oven/baking deck, that you will get a nicer bloom and oven spring.

And for goodness sakes, do what everyone else here says to do too!  A lot of knowledge and brain power is already in play in this thread!

alan 

dobie's picture
dobie

alan

Good, solid advice all around. Particulary about the heat mass (however attained).

dobie

doughooker's picture
doughooker

he second that you open the oven door to load your dough, the oven starts to lose heat, which will need to be recovered.  The moment that you actually load the dough, the oven loses more heat because you've just introduced something into the box that is considerably cooler than the ambient temp.

That is why ovens have thermostats. When the thermostat detects a drop in temperature, the burner/bake element comes on.

The reason I use a stone in my electric oven is to act as a heat shield between the bake element and the loaf. I used to have a terrible time with burnt or too-dark bottoms.

alfanso's picture
alfanso

But even with thermostats, my guess is that many don't "instant-on" the moment that they detect a heat loss.  I'll offer that most ovens, as with mine, have a "tolerance range", from perhaps just a few degrees to a lot of degrees - like mine, which they must fall below before they refire.   My own solution is to reset the temp on the oven after every opening of the door.  Not elegant, and a bit of a bear to constantly remember to do, but it works for me.   

Jon OBrien's picture
Jon OBrien

There's always a slight gap between the on and off settings for thermostats, otherwise they would constantly be flipping states. It's called 'hysteresis'.

doughooker's picture
doughooker

But even with thermostats, my guess is that many don't "instant-on" the moment that they detect a heat loss.  I'll offer that most ovens, as with mine, have a "tolerance range", from perhaps just a few degrees to a lot of degrees - like mine, which they must fall below before they refire.

That's going to happen whether you open the oven door or not.

In both gas and electric ovens, the burner/element stays on until the oven reaches temperature, then shuts off until the temp falls below a certain point, then comes back on. This cycling happens many times during a bake, all without even opening the oven door. Opening the door for 5 seconds to put a loaf in won't put a dent in the temperature, and you have the oven going up and down in temperature, on and off the entire time. In addition, the oven walls radiate heat and the element stays hot for a while in an electric oven. I think you're chasing a non-problem with all this talk about temperature fluctuations.

I open the oven door once for about 5 seconds to put the loaf in and once for about 5 seconds to remove the steam pan. My loaves turn out wonderfully without any worries about temperature fluctuations.

drogon's picture
drogon

One of the other "hats" I wear (in-fact the main one!) is that of the geek. Computer software/hardware engineer type.

I recently fitted one of my ovens with computer control and have been monitoring the internal temperatures and controlling it via a Raspberry Pi computer.

Some of the results were more surprising than I expected.

At the simplest level, you open the door, the oven cools, then you close it and the oven quickly gets back to temperature. However sometimes it doesn't. This is usually when you load the oven with dough (or cake, a duck, etc.) Sometimes I've seen the oven temperature dip (door open, oven load), then rise (door closed), then dip again and slowly rise back to setpoint. I'm fairly sure what's happening here is typical of most cheaper ovens (and maybe some expensive ones too!) So - oven heats up, but the oven doesn't have much thermal mass itself - This is a 68 liter oven and I can carry it myself without too much difficulty - that means it might have a lot of insulation (it does), but not much in the way of heat storage, so you load some bread in - say 3 large loaves in tins - effectively close to 3 liters of water and you're telling the oven: Boil that water.

So what happens next - you close the door - the little stored heat in the walls of the oven re-heat the air in the oven, the sensors pick this up and log a rise in temperature, but then the loaves start to have a greater effect - start to soak up that heat so the internal temperature starts to drop again - meanwhile, the temperature has been below setpoint all this time, so the heater has been on - this particular oven has a 2.2Kw heater and it's just not up to the job of getting the oven back up to temperature in a sensible (short) time period. I've logs of having it set to 250°C, loading the loaves and it not getting back to 250 in the 12 minutes I usually give it before dropping it down to 210°C for the remainder of the bake. (When its been just fine and the loaves turned out OK)

So a combination of no stored heat and low-power heaters - makes for a cheap oven, but one with limitations - which through my initial experimentations I've worked round.

I think with any oven you need to get the hang of it - they're all different and I now have 3 and they all behave differently. The Lincat - a commercial oven felt worse than the cheap domestic one  I have - until I swapped out the grids for 10mm steel plates - once heated up, these store more than enough heat to bake bread or at least keep the cavity hot during loading. The Rofco - well it's basically a large storage heater with 3 large squares of (artificial) stone to keep it warm...

So get to know your oven - I can bake very good bread in my cheap (£195) domestic oven but it does have its limitations..

-Gordon

doughooker's picture
doughooker

Among the variables in your scenario are the length of time the door is open and the number of loaves. Baking one loaf at a time and opening the door for 5 - 10 seconds once or twice -- will it make a difference to the finished product? I doubt it.

Also, the loaves themselves retain some heat.

I think people are way overthinking this.

sidinggirl's picture
sidinggirl

Woke up really early this morning and put the thermometer in the oven. Kept the pizza stone and stem try pan in there. Preheated to 450 until the oven signaled it was ready. Thermometer read approx. 460 at that point. Gave it some time and kept an eye on it, temp would swing between 460-470 while set at 450. Opened the oven door for about 30 seconds to simulate my usual fumbling to put the bread in there. Temp dropped to just under 450 and varied. Average temp about 465. Curious to see how far it drops when putting actual bread in there. Now thinking my normal breads just need more time in the oven to become more brown? Trial and error...

Looking at the feedback it looks like there are certainly better ways to do steam. I've been loading the bread, then dumping the water in there, then shutting door. Gonna try the method of adding a little extra water at preheat (maybe 1.5 cups) then when ready just load the bread.

Looking at the sheet pan which was used to bake those baguettes I'm thinking it was made for cookies. Probably not the best utensil. I was so wrapped up in having them 18" long where I could have made them a bit shorter and just made 1 extra loaf. Then I could have used my every day stainless steel pan. Should have thought that one out a little better. If I make these again I'll do 12 minutes pan, rest on bare rack.

Thanks on the shaping compliment. Never tried shaping a baguette, so watched some you tube videos. Started out with somewhat of a batard, rested for approximately 10 minutes, karate chopped the middle, then rolled out on an extremely small tiled counter space. They proofed much quicker than the loaves. Thinking I won't need to make this many next time so hopefully can spend more time making them look nice.

The slashing though, lol. My good friend Ronnie watched me bake bread on Christmas eve. He said the slashing was a very frustrating thing for him to watch :)

Drogon, lol on the computer controlled oven. Ive taken a break from hobbies for awhile. Before I took up bread baking recently I was into saltwater reef keeping. Not sure if you've ever checked that out or not but you'd probably be a natural. The lengths we "reefers" would go to trying to automate our tanks...it's pretty awesome that you did that!

 

 

drogon's picture
drogon

Well... I used to do a lot of scuba diving (20 years worth, spent over 3000 hours underwater and then some..) and one thing I always wanted to do was keep a cold water tank - predominantly UK species (ie. ones I could collect!) they have the opposite issue to fancy colourful tropical tanks in that they need to be kept cool in the summer...

Never got round to it though... One day, maybe...

I did post a link here (in another forum thread) to my oven project, but here it is if you want a look

-Gordon

sidinggirl's picture
sidinggirl

Thanks for posting the link, I really enjoyed reading about your build. I totally get why you did it too :) Not because you had to, but because you could. Your writing style is really great too. From breaking down the sheer complexity of the build, to adding humor. You must be using both sides of your brain.

As much as I'd love scuba diving I'm too afraid to breathe supplied air.  If you've got any tips on how to do it without freaking out I'd love to hear them. Headed down to Florida in a few weeks and I'm fascinated with what lies beneath.

Not sure what type of species you'd be able to collect for an aquarium but after reading about your oven project I just know your tank would be spectacular! I was wrapped up for months in d.i.y.-ing a high powered, dimmable led fixture for my tank. Wanted to use cree bulbs and all the store bought fixtures are underpowered. For you, this would be child's play...you'd have it done by lunch time. Not sure on the water temp required for the species you'd plan to keep. Prior to led becoming more widely available, I illuminated my reef with hqi, generating a heck of a lot of heat, so running a chiller was a necessity. I was never smart enough to automate my system using a store bought controller. Betcha you could even design your own automation system. 

Very cool, thanks again for posting the link!

 

 

 

drogon's picture
drogon

... away from bread...

Stand in warm sheltered water (no/little waves), waist deep with a mask and snorkel. If there is something to hold on to then that's better. Take a breath and put your head under water. Try to think where the snorkel is pointing - up is good. Breathe out. If you hear gurgling, then lift your head, if not, then breathe in. Repeat. Slowly as you gain confidence float on the water, head down - one hand on the edge if possible. Marvell at the aquarium below! (Or if in the UK at the weeds and dark green colour )-:

I used to teach diving too. Loved it. I could generally tell if someone would make a good diver in a few seconds of them entering the water.

Typical water temp for a UK tank would be 14°C. We have some native sponges and soft corrals here, as well as some very nice anemones. Here's a few photos in my pre-digital days:

http://drogon.net/scuba/Scapa.Mar.2000/

http://drogon.net/scuba/Salutay.Aug.2000/general.html

The control side of an aquarium would be relatively easy, but next on my agenda is a retarder/proofer for the bakehouse... My aim is to get up at 6am with the ovens hot, being able to take the fully proofed croissants out of the box and into the oven which means I can save a lot of time in the morning...

-Gordon

sidinggirl's picture
sidinggirl

Couple snapshots of the tank. Sorta getting the hang of this picture thing. Looks like you'd have ample opportunity to collect some very cool speciestuff on a dive.

The proofing box project sounds like a great idea. You should start a build thread for it here or somewhere, betcha everyone would be really interested in seeing the project. It would be a real time saver to roll out of bed and put it right into the oven. Me, I'm trying to fill time so no need to save right now. Maybe some day...

drogon's picture
drogon

I need to get a friend to make the actual box for me as I no-longer have enough DIY kit to make one up (that and the bakehouse is where the old utility room once was!) but I have the rest of the control gear and cooling kit. Hopefully soon.

Cheers,

-Gordon

Jon OBrien's picture
Jon OBrien

Assuming that 450 isn't your oven's highest setting, try turning it on full and giving your loaves five minutes at the highest temperature before turning it down to somewhere around 410-430 for the rest of the bake. The initial higher temperature will help with oven spring as well as browning and you may not need to increase the overall length of the bake.

sidinggirl's picture
sidinggirl

Planning to bake some bread on Thursday. I'm going to try your suggestion exactly as above. Very excited :) I'm thinking set a timer for the first five minutes, then no timer, just watch the bread for the deeper color I'm hoping for. Stop worrying so much about the darn timer.

Thanks so much to you and everyone for the abundance of helpful suggestions! Really kind to help out a noobie, appreciate it very much

dobie's picture
dobie

sidinggirl

I was very surprised by you oven temp results, but you clearly have a handle on it. I think what Jon says makes a lot of sense.

Gordon

Fun stuff about the computers and ovens. I'm looking forward to the developments. Also, very interesting about the diving and tanks and such.

dobie

sidinggirl's picture
sidinggirl

Baked the sourdough marble rye today...came out nice inside but shaping needs work. Happy overall with it.

The oven was well behaved the other day when I posted but today it was all over the map. Heated to 400 for this bread but after 40 minutes still wasn't at temp. Cranked it a little higher. As the bread baked checked the temp periodically and it was all over the place. Just going to have to do the best I can with what I have and keep a close eye on thermometer. 

Didn't do the oven crank up thing because I wasn't so sure on that with this bread...called for a lower temp and no steam. My dad is flying in on Tuesday so wanna make up a batch of the "San Francisco" sourdough so I'll try that method when I bake that.

My friend is getting me 1/2" steel plate in the next few days, so excited to try baking on that :)

sidinggirl's picture
sidinggirl

Baked the sourdough marble rye today...came out nice inside but shaping needs work. Happy overall with it.

The oven was well behaved the other day when I posted but today it was all over the map. Heated to 400 for this bread but after 40 minutes still wasn't at temp. Cranked it a little higher. As the bread baked checked the temp periodically and it was all over the place. Just going to have to do the best I can with what I have and keep a close eye on thermometer. 

Didn't do the oven crank up thing because I wasn't so sure on that with this bread...called for a lower temp and no steam. My dad is flying in on Tuesday so wanna make up a batch of the "San Francisco" sourdough so I'll try that method when I bake that.

My friend is getting me 1/2" steel plate in the next few days, so excited to try baking on that :)

dobie's picture
dobie

sidinggirl

I'm glad it came out well. Don't worry about shaping, that will come (to us all).

Finicky oven? I'm sure your coming steel plate will balance that out.

While you might discover many interesting things by keeping an eye on the oven temp thru the bake, I think the main point, was to see if your oven was calibrated at all (and it sounds as if it was).

As you said, mass of dough, hydration of dough and how many times you open the door will all effect those temps. That's why I like to start high and let it work on down.

I have not read your recipe for the marble rye (of course, I would like to), but I wouldn't be surprised if you could have started it in as hot an oven as you could attain and then reduce the temp along the way. But if the interior was fine, why bother?

Maybe your Dad and your steel will arrive the same day. Start your dough now ;-)

dobie