The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Baking Novice, question about science of heat

Prince Pasta's picture
Prince Pasta

Baking Novice, question about science of heat

Hello everyone! I am a culinary student who found interest in baking. Thing is my oven at home can only reach 300-350 degrees Fahrenheit, and I can see most recipes call for 450 degrees. I can't afford to buy a better oven at the moment, so I would like to ask if baking something that requires high heat simply calls for baking it longer? Or is it just not possible? It seems like when I bake a simple 1-2kg ciabatta or focaccia what's supposed to take 20 minutes takes over an hour. I am prepared to settle because I have no choice, am I trying to do the impossible? I feel that even if the loaf is done it tastes very off. Please help veterans, I need to understand the science of bread baking. Thank you!!!!!         

prettedda's picture
prettedda

I am no expert but temperature will effect a lot of things and longer times won't help. I.e oven spring and crust formation. That being said things will get cooked but will have different properties. Enriched breads challa brioche probably will work fine. You could also try long slow breads like some German ryes. If you have a broiler you can add bottom heat on the stove top and then top heat from the broiler. 

 

 

Prince Pasta's picture
Prince Pasta

Somehow I want to make basic bread ingredients first, yeast or flat so I can accompany them with different foods... Even the pitas at school or naans ask for 450 degrees it's a bit sad for me...

AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11 (not verified)

It will actually get hotter than 300-350 degrees. Like wind chill makes it cooler the fan will make it hotter. Only way to know is with an oven thermometer.

Prince Pasta's picture
Prince Pasta

My oven actually has one option for baking, below... if I use the other options it turns both top and bottom coils on burning the top of the loaf or any food I make...

doughooker's picture
doughooker

Look into having your oven's thermostat calibrated.

drogon's picture
drogon

I'm quite surprised... 350F being about 180°C ... Even my microwave with it's tiny convection unit will go to 220°C... (and I've cooked bread it it too)

If it really will only go that hot, then try a pizza stone or steel sheet (even a heavy baking tray!) Also use a dutch oven. Heat up the oven and pizza stone/sheet and DO for at least an hour before you need to put the dough in. Run it at max for the entire duration.

That might help... But really more heat needed.

Got an outside patio? Make a wood-fired oven...

Good luck..

-Gordon

doughooker's picture
doughooker

If it really will only go that hot, then try a pizza stone or steel sheet (even a heavy baking tray!) Also use a dutch oven. Heat up the oven and pizza stone/sheet and DO for at least an hour before you need to put the dough in. Run it at max for the entire duration.

That might help...

No, those things won't help if the oven isn't getting above 350F. They don't generate heat.

But really more heat needed.

Precisely.

I have a small toaster oven and even it gets up to 425F -- just barely -- but it's hot enough for bread.

drogon's picture
drogon

... looks like the forum chomped your post? I got it in email, but can't see it here?

But yes - you're right - my suggestions won't generate more heat, but they might help to slow down the initial cooling that will happen when you load it with some dough - that will happen if the oven heating element is somewhat weedy, so giving it more thermal mass will slow things down a bit..

-Gordon

doughooker's picture
doughooker

The forum doesn't like me today. Let's see if I have better luck with a different browser.

You're advising the O.P. to throw his money away on non-solutions, not a nice thing to do to a student. Baking stones, steel plates and Dutch ovens don't generate heat so they won't get any hotter than the ambient temperature of the oven cavity, 350F, no matter how much "thermal mass" they have.

Jon OBrien's picture
Jon OBrien

But might convey the heat into the loaf more efficiently?

doughooker's picture
doughooker

But might convey the heat into the loaf more efficiently?

What heat? It's not getting over 350F and he wants 425 - 450 to bake.

You guys aren't really that uninformed, are you? That's the most polite word I can think of.

Jon OBrien's picture
Jon OBrien

Alfanso expressed it well in his fifth paragraph here

He wants a temperature his oven can't reach, so what's being offered are alternatives which might make what he has more usable. Sometimes pragmatism is all you have to work with.

And thanks for the implied insult.

Prince Pasta's picture
Prince Pasta

Thank you for the link I will read into it.

I have this problem where the bottom of the loaf gets crispy but the top remains white and soft, so maybe a pizza stone would come to the same effect? I have tried a clay tile before because I've read they can be a substitute to a pizza stone and came to a similar effect... 

Prince Pasta's picture
Prince Pasta

Thank you for the link I will read into it.

I have this problem where the bottom of the loaf gets crispy but the top remains white and soft, so maybe a pizza stone would come to the same effect? I have tried a clay tile before because I've read they can be a substitute to a pizza stone and came to a similar effect... 

gerhard's picture
gerhard

Convection heat will transfer heat from air to product faster, so much so that recipes will often call for 20 to 30 degree reduced heat setting when using convection.  I think that is what John was trying to convey. 

Gerhard

Arjon's picture
Arjon

For instance, maybe the OP can find a way to heat a pizza stone (or whatever) to a higher temp than 350 by doing so outside the oven. 

Arjon's picture
Arjon

You can bake a loaf to the same ~200-205 degrees internal temp in a 350 or 450 oven, but you shouldn't expect the same result. Think of a roast. If you roast it to the same internal temp, say 160, in a 200 degree oven vs 350, the result won't be quite the same; e.g. the outside will be less crusty.

With bread, you can bake at least some recipes at 350 or 450, but again, the results won't be exactly the same. How different will depend on the specific recipe, but as above, one thing I'd generally expect fron the lower temp oven is a less crusty loaf. 

Prince Pasta's picture
Prince Pasta

You're right the crumb is always ready and done, but the crust stays white and very soft... What may you suggest I try doing? I was thinking of cutting the dough in four and baking four small loaves. 

Arjon's picture
Arjon

You can get some browning by brushing the top with some milk or egg wash; the latter will be shinier and can add a bit of egg taste depending how much you use. 

As for getting a crustier texture, that might be possible if you can get some steam into the oven or bake the bread in a closed container like a dutch oven for about the first 1/2 to 2/3 of the total baking time. I haven't tried this, so I' can't say for sure though. 

AlanG's picture
AlanG

Heat transfer is going to be limited by the temperature in the oven and nothing is going to help solve that problem.  Mixinator is correct that the first thing to look at is whether the thermostat is defective.  It's quite difficult for me to believe that the oven cannot go above what the OP states.  My daughter had a very old stove in her Philadelphia apartment and had no difficulties getting it to heat up to 450F.  If the OP is living in an apartment have the landlord replace/repair the stove.

Pizza stones, tiles or steels won't help much if you cannot get the internal temperature up.  You are also going to have more difficulty maintaining steam in such a cool oven.

dobie's picture
dobie

Pasta Prince

Yes, 'student' and 'afford' are often diametrically opposed terms. I understand.

If I hear you correctly, you have a setting that will allow you to have both the bottom and top (burner or element) on at the same time. The problem being that when the top is on (broil, no doubt), the tops of anything get burnt.

What I would suggest is to take whatever stone, tile or perhaps cast iron mass you may have available and use such as a shield. That might actually bring your maximum oven temp up and avoid the burn.

dobie

ps - siblings can get into a spat now and then; but let's please remember, we are all brothers and sisters here. There is enough madness in the world outside of this forum to suit me. Make peace, please. I rely on you all.

embth's picture
embth

and that generally indicates a very tight budget.  However, a few years down the road when you are a working chef, you'll be able to buy a very nice oven.   Since you'll be a professional chef, you may find a way to make it a tax deduction.  I'm not an accountant, so this is advice is likely worth exactly what you paid for it, but perhaps it can be a ray of hope.  Your struggles with the inadequate oven are temporary.  Some day when you are famous, you will tell your apprentices about the hardships of your early days….and this oven will be one of the tales!   Anyway, this thread needed a bit of humor.   Best of luck in your studies!   Embth

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

If you do a little browsing you will see that you can actually bake bread in a slow cooker / crock pot, so yes, you can bake bread at a lower temperature for longer. You won't get an artisan-loaf-type crust and it might look a little pale, but the crock-pot bread bakers suggest putting the finished loaf under the broiler for a few minutes to brown it.

As long as the inside of the loaf is above about 185 degrees the bread should be 'done' and quite edible, just not quite a work of art. :)

Oh, and Ken Forkish tells (in his book Flour Water Salt Yeast) of a bakery that has a dome oven lined with firebrick that they preheat with a blow torch. You could always invest in a bread stone for your oven and try the same! (Just kidding; do not try this at home. )

dobie's picture
dobie

Now that you all are bringing it up, I have just recently completed my first 'sous-vide' bread experiment, and it (surprisingly) worked out quite well.

I put about a large roll's worth of dough in a lightly oiled zip lock baggie and let it proof for an hour or so. I then submerged it in 160 - 165F waterbath for about 20 minutes.

I then removed it from the bag and finished it naked on the rack of a 400F oven for about 10 minutes, and the result was, very much as if I had done nothing out of the ordinary.

I know 400F is a little over what Pasta Prince can currently attain, but not that far off.

Just for what it's worth, it was a nice roll.

dobie