The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

baking bread in pizza oven - question about regulating stone heat

bakingleigh's picture
bakingleigh

baking bread in pizza oven - question about regulating stone heat

Hello,

I am hoping someone can offer me some advice on baking bread in a pizza oven. I have always baked in combo cookers but was hoping to increase the amount of loaves I can do at a time so found a second hand Italian electric pizza oven that had a stone in decent shape. Unfortunately, the instructions are translated from Italian and do not make a lot of sense to me. I seem to have figured most of it out however am having a problem with the bottom heat. My first batch turns out well however the second batch always ends up with burnt bottoms. The rest of the loaf is fine, just the bottoms are black. The temperature gauge shows the current temp and it is always quite low after I unload the first batch so I usually wait until the temperature increases before loading the second batch as I am nervous about baking at a lower than 450 F temp, but am wondering if that is causing the stone to get too hot?

Any advice is would be so appreciated, I am cutting a lot of crusts off bread these days!

Thank you.

 

jbovenbread's picture
jbovenbread

I expect that the oven thermometer is sampling the oven air temperature, rather than temperature immediately above the oven heating elements.  A first step to resolve your problem may be be to try and get a better translation of the manual to see it offers any advice.

I have a couple of other things you might try.  First off would be to lay a layer of fire brick or similar material on the base of your oven if you have the room to do so.   This may well moderate the obvious temperature swing that you are getting on the base and would help to stabilize the heat a bit better by adding thermal mass . If you don't have the room for fire brick a baking stone over the base may help.

You may also wish to get a cheap IR thermometer to verify just what temperatures you are dealing with so you can respond to the oven's performance better.  I picked up a gun type device on sale locally for around $35 Canadian.  I also have a small key chain device that is awkward to use but cost less than $10 C.

However, I suspect that  the best solution may be to change out the temperature controller in your oven and this is long way beyond my level of expertise.  If you are lucky enough to have a electronics repair shop somewhere nearby you may wish to talk to them about this.  I am very fortunate to have a local business that started out repairing radio's and televisions ..... but that's pretty rare these days.  I hope this helps.

 

bakingleigh's picture
bakingleigh

Thank you so much for your insight. I was wondering if I should be baking on trays but like the idea of adding thermal mass. I will try adding baking stones to see if that helps.  I have been meaning to get an IR thermometer so that will be my next step. Thank you for your response.

Empire's Chef Chris's picture
Empire's Chef Chris

Who is the maker of the oven?

bakingleigh's picture
bakingleigh

The oven is a Fornitalia. It is a two deck pizza oven (but I only use one at a time due to the available electrical outlet). My goal was to increase the amount of loaves I could bake at once however find myself weary to use it for the loaves I sell as I am nervous about the burnt bottoms.

TerryD's picture
TerryD

Pizza ovens cook from the "bottom up." They quickly cook the dough via direct contact with the hot stone deck and the ingredients are cooked with heat that has largely radiated from the deck into the oven.  So... a fully heated oven would be expected to burn the bottom of something like a loaf of bread that stays in contact with the deck for 30-40 minutes.  It might well be that your first loaves don't burn because the oven is not fully preheated -- The oven I cook in takes well over an hour to fully heat up.

One option would be to try baking a standard loaf on an inverted baking sheet, if the oven is tall enough to accommodate the height of your loaves plus an inch for the baking sheet. That air space would probably protect the bottoms from charring.

Another option is to work up from quicker cooking breads you could cook on a baking sheet, like focaccia or perhaps ciabatta.

Terry

 

 

bakingleigh's picture
bakingleigh

Thank you so much for your help. I am going to try on baking sheets on my next batch. I tried the oven again yesterday, and didn't let the oven come back up to temperature between batches. The bottoms did not burn but they were definitely baked at a lower (maybe around 375 F) temp - my steam tray still had water in it after 10 minutes. I guess part of this will be trial and error but am definitely going to try on trays for the time being. Thank you, I really appreciate all the guidance through this!