The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Convection or Bake Mode?

Old Baker's picture
Old Baker

Convection or Bake Mode?

I posed this question a couple of months ago and did not get a consistent answer.  I contacted Peter Reinhart and posed the question to him.  He advised that home ovens (such as mine) usually give better results in the convection mode and to try a couple of batches baked both ways to see what works best.  Well, I baked six loaves from the same batch of dough, three in bake mode and three in convection.  Only difference was that I used 475F in the bake mode and 450F in convection.

Bottom line is that there was no difference in crust or crumb.

hanseata's picture
hanseata

For my micro-bakery I bake 4-6 loaves on two tiers, in convection mode. After I started doing that, I basically bake every bread with convection, whether it's one or several. My oven auto-converts, so I don't need any manual temperature adjustments.

Karin

 

Danni3ll3's picture
Danni3ll3

to prevent burnt bottoms. Since I fit 6 pots in my oven at once, the ones on the bottom are very close to the heating element. On convection mode, the heat changes rapidly from bottom to top to rear and the fan keeps the air moving and prevents hot spots. 

Old Baker's picture
Old Baker

The difference in modes may sound like a mute point, but I was concerned that convection would dry the dough/bread excessively.  I found that not to be the case in my oven.

albacore's picture
albacore

I'm slighly confused; are we talking bakestone loaves here or Dutch oven? I'm sure at least Danni is using Dutch ovens. The intial closed baking in those won't be affected by convection.

My experience has been that convection baking negatively impacts oven spring, at least in the early stages of baking.

However, I can only speak for a UK Bosch fan oven as they tend to be called - not sure if this is exactly the same as a US convection oven?

I think the fan tends to dry out the loaf surface too quickly before oven spring is finished.

I do use the fan heat to get the oven up to temperature and then switch to top and bottom heat for the bake.

Lance

Danni3ll3's picture
Danni3ll3

I use convection mode to equalize the heat so I don’t get burnt bottoms. 

OldWoodenSpoon's picture
OldWoodenSpoon

I am a bit late here but still:  We recently sold our home of 28 years, and the dual-mode oven went with it.  We are currently renting a home with a convection-only oven, and my experience has been the same as what Lance reports here.  I never baked hearth loaves under convection until I got to this place.  Now that I have no choice I have found that my oven spring is significantly and negatively affected.

I understand why this happens, as Lance clearly does also:  the fan drys out the surface of the loaves very quickly and that halts the bloom very early in the baking cycle.  It results in smaller, tighter loaves with a less open crumb.  I also find it affects the color of the loaves negatively.  My convection loaves are much more pale in appearance.  I suspect the Maillard reaction is impacted for similar reasons, but I'm not a chemist so that is as far as I will go on that point.

To remedy this I plan to buy a new La Cloche soon since (imo) it is impossible to effectively steam a convection oven.  I have long baked with one, but it broke in the move and I have not replaced it yet.  I know, though, that when I do my loaves will again bloom properly in baking and my breads will again have that nice open crumb that I love.

For what it's worth...

OldWoodenSpoon

albacore's picture
albacore

If you have a big baking stone, consider buying a large stainless steel bowl that you can invert and sit on the bake stone with the loaf baking underneath it. A lot more robust than la Cloche - and cheaper.

 

Lance

OldWoodenSpoon's picture
OldWoodenSpoon

You are correct that the stainless steel bowl and some other options are also solutions to the problem, and I have tried one or two, such as the inverted bowl as well as an inverted aluminum baking dish.  They work reasonably well too, but I still prefer the La Cloche because under my hands/in my oven it yields better results.  My original point with respect to that original problem, however, was that the drying effect of the convection oven reduces oven spring when other measures, whatever they are, are not taken.  That was what I was trying to get across.

Thanks for engaging in the discussion.
OldWoodenSpoon

leslieruf's picture
leslieruf

unglazed terracotta plant pot, just plug the hole with crumpled alu foil.  I did this for a while and it worked a treat, cost a lot less too!  you have to season it first though. 

Leslie

albacore's picture
albacore

Just another thought: I now recall that using all fan/convection heating caused excessive loaf weight loss for me - I think around 20%, as opposed to the normal target of 10%.

This could give you a dry crumb and faster staling. Try weighing your loaves before and after baking.

Of course if you are using Dutch ovens or baking tin/pan loaves this won't apply. It will also depend on other factors like loaf size, shape, hydration, oven fan speed, etc.

Lance

Old Baker's picture
Old Baker

I should have thought of doing this.  Next time I bake, I'll use your technical method.  My OP was based on the premise that convection mode would cause excessive drying.  Now I have a way of accurately determining this.  Thanks for the idea.