The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Problems with oven spring in toaster oven

Iamthestarter's picture
Iamthestarter

Problems with oven spring in toaster oven

Hello everyone!

Long-time lurker here, first time asking for help. Also, I apologize in advance because I'm not sure which forum to post this question in. In general, I make stiffer doughs (65%), sourdough when I have time and commercially yeasted when I don't. I usually bake in a regular loaf pan (8"x4.75") but sometimes make boules and bake them in my clay "Dutch oven". My concern is that my sandwich bread doesn't spring as much as I want it to, and my suspicion is that the top of the bread is too close to the top heating element on my toaster oven, causing the crust to set before the inside can expand. I also need a baking stone on the bottom and plan on going today to purchase one. I think I might get two: One to shield the top of my bread from the top element, and another to preheat and sit the loaf pan on. Does this sound reasonable to you guys? Thanks in advance :) 

 

- Drew

BrianShaw's picture
BrianShaw

Hi Drew. Please forgive my negativity but I think you’ll be forever frustrated baking in a toaster oven. I tried and tried but finally gave up... except for potato and roasting small quantities of vegetables. 

I think toaster ovens are just too small and with virtually no insulation so they tend to rely on the mostly constantly on heating elements. The rack placement is often not ideal either. In fact, that is often the case for toast as well as bake.

It’s a shame because where I like the summer is very hot and I hate heating the oven when the weather is sweltering. 

if you can succeed I offer sincere kudos, though. 

Iamthestarter's picture
Iamthestarter

No offense taken, thanks for your honesty. We live in Mexico and have no AC, so you can understand why I want to use the toaster oven! But my suspicion was that I'll have to just deal with the heat that our old gas oven puts out. I'm going to make two loaves today. I'll bake one in the toaster oven with a little different setup and the other in the real oven and try to see if I can see any significant differences.

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

You may have some success baking in a container in your oven.   If you can find a cast iron pot with a lid that will fit,  that should be ideal.   You will have to experiment with how long to preheat it,  and how long to leave the lid on,  and whether you take the lid off completely offer just to vent the steam,  but this would be a better approach then 2 stone's

Iamthestarter's picture
Iamthestarter

I've been looking for something big enough that I can flip upside down to cover my loaf pan for steam while it's baking, but no luck yet. I will keep my eyes open though.

Iamthestarter's picture
Iamthestarter

I also wanted to report about today's bake. I was shocked to get better ovenspring in my toaster oven than in my real oven today. I baked two identical pan loaves of a commercially-yeasted lean dough, 90% bread flour, 10% whole wheat, 63% hydration. I made a preferment a few hours ahead with 100g of the bread flour and 100g of the water and just a pinch of yeast and mixed it in with the remaining ingredients, kneaded for a bit, and then did 2 sets of stretch and folds during bulk. Shaped and put in fridge for final rise. 

edited to describe pictures:

Shockingly, the toaster oven loaf got better ovenspring; it's the one on the right in the pictures. The toaster oven was set at 450F and the real oven at 500F. I might have gotten better steam in the toaster oven as well, since it's much smaller. Maybe I have a dough strength/structure problem?

Iamthestarter's picture
Iamthestarter

Is this crumb indicative of any problems with proofing? It's much denser than I'd like.

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

Actually, the bread looks quite nice, but you're right, you can probably get more spring. It's a matter of getting the right balance between the amount of yeast (or sourdough culture), the time and the temperature. And just when you get it all figured out, the weather changes!

Anyway, I have had some success baking small boules in my toaster oven by putting the ball into a pre-heated small cast-iron frying pan and covering it with a small steel bowl for the first half of the bake.

Iamthestarter's picture
Iamthestarter

Wanted to post my latest attempt. 

As you can see, it's much taller! I increased the total dough weight from 800g to 1200g. I used a bit less yeast to slow down bulk and final proofs to try to catch it at the right time. I even took a 60g dough ball, shaped it, and let it have its final proof in a narrow glass so I could see what the inside was looking like. That helped a lot, and I found out that I might have even been able to push the final proof another 20-30 minutes before baking. I also kneaded a lot more and eliminated the stretch and folds. Once I get a feel for the dough this way, I might try to use stretch and fold again. This was almost too much dough so I think I'll reduce it just a touch next time. The scores opened up much nicer on the loaf as well. Thanks for letting me bounce my thoughts off of you all, it's been really helpful!
barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

Looks like you have had quite a bit of improvement.  Yes, you are right that the more you make a particular recipe, the better you get at feeling how the dough is supposed to feel at particular stages.