The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

When to use fan forced oven and when not to

giraffez's picture
giraffez

When to use fan forced oven and when not to

can someone tell me when I should use fan forced oven and when I shouldn't when I'm baking bread.  My understanding is fan allows the bread to bake more evenly but then you have to turn the temperature down by 20 degrees Celsius .

what other differences do the two have?

 

if I was to say water bath bake like a cheesecake, should I do it with or without fan?

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I can't comment on cheesecake, specifically. I mostly bake sourdough hearth breads.

My oven heats very evenly, but, if we are baking trays of cookies on different shelves, we do use "convection bake."

For bread, the big difference is that, at least in my electric convection oven, the convection settings vent moisture more. So, for the first part of the bake, when I want to preserve humidity, I use conventional bake. Then, I switch to convection bake and lower the temperature 25 dF. 

I get good results, but I have never actually done a well-controlled experiment to determine whether that actually improves the product over baking without convection entirely.

My hunch is that there are very significant differences among the ovens on the market.

David

ds99303's picture
ds99303

Here's the way I do it at work. Ours ovens have a fan delay function and a vent function along with a steam function. I leave the vent open on everything unless I'm steaming something. In that case, I'll close the vent for two minutes to allow the steam to work and open it for the rest of the bake. I bake everything at the temperature you would normally bake it at in a conventional oven but I leave the fan turned off for approximately 1/3 of the total baking time. That gives the interior of the product a chance to bake before the exterior becomes too brown. If you're baking a cheesecake, you may want to leave the fan off the entire time if possible.  Otherwise, you run the risk of the filling turning brown on top from too much heat.

giraffez's picture
giraffez

Thank you, so a fan isn't really a necessity?

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

The convection really helps to dry out the crust and brown the bread more evenly but I do spin the bread after 8 minutes of convection anyway. 

ds99303's picture
ds99303

I have to use a forced air oven at because that's what we have. However, I personally would never have one.  Trying to figure out how to adjust the time and temperature for different items can be a hassle.  Convection ovens might be fine for  some items like fruit pies, cookies, and casseroles, but more delicate items like cakes and custards can be tricky.  I find that cakes baked in a convection don't rise nearly as high as cakes baked in a regular oven because the crust forms and browns before the cake has risen to its full height.  Custards and custard type pies will also brown too quickly before the filling has set unless you turn the temperature way down.  I know a big selling point of convection ovens is the speed but  some things just can't be rushed.  Also, convection ovens are suppose to eliminate hot spots.  They dont.  Items closest to the fan will bake much faster and in some cases burn unless you rotate the pan.  Even our ovens at work, which hold  whole channel carts of bread and rotate automatically, have a cool zone.  Items bakes on the second and third racks from the top take longer to bake than everything else on the cart.  So I would say a convection oven is not a necessity.  People were baking bread long before convection ovens were around and they didn't seem to have any trouble with getting the bread done the way they liked it.  Besides, having an oven with a fan on it is just one more thing to break down.