The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Problem with Baking Stone & Convection Oven

Goats In The Kitchen's picture
Goats In The Kitchen

Problem with Baking Stone & Convection Oven

The background: We recently got a shiny new electric induction range. It's an LG convection oven and is billed as a true convection oven "inspired by pro-style ranges." When we were looking at ranges we liked this one best but were hesitant because all the other convection ovens had the heating element on the bottom while the LG has it at the back of the oven with no element on the bottom. The promo material states that most convection ovens simply have a fan at the back that blows the warm air around, while the LG is a true convection oven because it has a fan and a heating element at the back. The salesperson assured us it was an excellent design and they'd had no issues with it, and the reviews were good, so we decided to purchase it. We've been very happy with it, except where the baking stone is concerned.

The problem: I've used a baking stone for years in my three previous electric ovens without convection. The stone has always given me a nice brown, crispy crust. But with my new oven I'm not getting the same results with my stone. I've tried baking with both convection and non-convection mode and the results are the same...a pale/soft bottom. The bread will cook through and the top is nicely browned. If I'm not using the stone and instead baking in a loaf pan for example, I get decent results with nice even colour. So it seems to me that the stone is just not getting hot enough in this oven. I'm perplexed because the oven heats up quite quickly (went to 550 F in 15 minutes today) and I leave the stone in for an hour to preheat before baking bread on it. But I'm still not getting a brown crust on the bottom. With my previous ovens I would typically pre-heat the stone for only 30 minutes and it browned the crust perfectly.

Question: Could the placement of the heating element at the back vs on the bottom of the oven be the cause of this issue? I would have thought that after an hour at 500 the stone would be plenty hot no matter which direction the heat was coming from. Anyone else have this type of convection oven and encounter this issue? Hoping for some suggestions as I love baking on my stone!

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

You might try to preheat at the highest heat for 45 min to an hour, then turn down the temp 50 to 75 degrees when you load the dough.  They are right when they say it is true European convection if the heating element and fan are both at the back of the oven.  With true convection, the fan blows the warm air around the cavity.  The owners manual probably tells you that it will cook quicker than an normal bake element, and they often recommend that you reduce the temp 25 degrees,  and shorten the cooking time 10 to 15 percent.  My guess is that the convection heating is causing the top of the loaf to brown quicker than it did in your old oven,  By turning down the temp, you should get a better balance of convection heat and heat from the stone, though it may take a few tries with different adjustments to get it right.  

Goats In The Kitchen's picture
Goats In The Kitchen

Funny thing, the manual does say it will cook faster on convection, and it has an automatic setting that reduces the oven temp by 25 degrees when convection setting is used. However, so far I've found it takes a little longer to cook on the convection setting. We did a pork roast last week and supper was 45 minutes late because it wasn't cooking as it should have given the weight of the roast and the temp. My oven thermometer says the oven temp is accurate so I'm not sure what's going on there.

In any case, I didn't use the convection setting with this morning's bake. I'd had not good results on the stone with the convection setting previously, so this time I decided to bake without convection to see if it made a difference, but no. I did preheat at 500 for an hour before loading the dough, then turned down to 450 for 15 minutes covered, then another 15 minutes uncovered, then yet another 15 min as it wasn't browning on the bottom. Ended up leaving the bread in for 45 minutes total just to try to get the bottom to brown but it still looked pale after 45 min.

Maybe I need to contact LG support...apparently now they can log in to your range and diagnose all manner of issues! :O

 

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

Can you send me the model number,  I am interested to see what they mean by non convection mode, if the only element is in the back? 

 

Goats In The Kitchen's picture
Goats In The Kitchen

Sure, it's an LG LSE4617ST.  In non convection mode the fan does operate at times, I assume enough to keep the temp relatively even throughout the oven.

I actually emailed LG customer support to ask about the stone not getting hot enough and was told that because the baking element is hidden in the back wall of the oven, it won't provide enough direct heat to get the stone hot enough for baking. I'm going to try pre-heating under the broiler initially, to get the stone hot enough, then lower the rack with stone on it for the actual bake. I presume that once the stone is at least as hot as the air temp in the oven, it will be able to hold that level of heat throughout the bake time.

JerrytheK's picture
JerrytheK

We have  Wolf Model M double ovens.

I use convection to heat dutch ovens for bread baking. Generally they are in the middle of the oven and they heat up to the indicated temperature in about half-an-hour to an hour.

I also have a slab of 1/2" steel in the lower oven that I use for pizzas.

However, the big difference between the Wolf and what you have is that the Wolf DOES have top and bottom heating elements, in addition to the true convection in the back.

But even with just convection, the bake stone SHOULD get hot enough from the hot air circulating around it.

I use an infrared thermometer to check both the bake steel and the dutch ovens to ensure that they have come to temperature.

If you don't have one, they are not terrible expensive and you could use one to be assured the bake stone has gotten to temperature.

https://smile.amazon.com/Etekcity-Lasergrip-774-Non-contact-Thermometer/dp/B00837ZGRY/ref=sxin_2_ac_d_rm?ac_md=0-0-aW5mcmFyZWQgdGhlcm1vbWV0ZXI%3D-ac_d_rm&crid=36QRWTZNVAPP5&keywords=infrared+thermometer&pd_rd_i=B00837ZGRY&pd_rd_r=881212c2-d99c-45e9-b304-96ba0409d8dd&pd_rd_w=fA9lg&pd_rd_wg=aKpkn&pf_rd_p=d29bc9bc-49e2-46b8-bc05-387917c341ec&pf_rd_r=P139QZMQ1RRE822MX06Z&qid=1568411473&s=gateway&sprefix=infra%2Caps%2C172

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

So I am a little confused.  I read the manual and it describes bake mode, but does not expressly say that there is an element under the floor of the oven.  I checked a parts website, and it shows a regular element, as opposed to a convection element, but that could be the broil element, and I could not find a schematic diagram.

Assuming you don't have any heat from below the stone, and the only heat is from the rear element - then it is possible that convection mode means the fan goes at a higher speed, and bake mode means a lower speed or cycles on and off.  If so,  I wonder if the stone you are using is so thin, that it does not store much heat.  So assuming it gets up to temperature during preheat, as you put the dough on it,  the upper surface under the dough will start to cool, which can be offset if heat is coming into the bottom of the stone below.   This is a wild guess, but it is possible in your old oven, the stone was closer to an element, and as the heat rose from the element, it heated the stone more than the current oven does.  And I have some vague unsupported theories for that, but that is not important, since you have a couple of options.

One is to preheat at a higher temp, then cut the temp during baking so that the bottom gets brown at the same time as the top.  Another option is to go with a more conductive material - a  piece of steel will conduct more heat than a stone.   As an experiment,  you might want to try with a griddle. Of course, you want one without any plastic handles, or even a cast iron skillet.  If the griddle has a teflon coating, make sure you are careful with the temperature,  I have read that is is safe up to a variety of temps -  some say 570, some say 600, some say 500F.  Since it is just a test, I would try it at 475 and see how it works, and if you like it, buy a steel plate.  They can be heavy, but have no risk of breaking.  You can buy one made for bread baking, or just any piece of steel -   https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=31267.0  Don't get too hung up on thickness, that is more an issue for those that use it for pizza, like Jerry.  I have one I use for bread and it is only 1/8 inch thick, and works fine. 

A final option, if you find that the test of steel worked, it to go to a combo cooker - which is great for round loafs, but not as great for other shapes. 

 

A

Goats In The Kitchen's picture
Goats In The Kitchen

Thanks for checking into that Barry. Yes it has a top broiler element but no bottom element. the bake element is behind the back wall of the oven and is not exposed.

I think my stone is good, I have used it for years with excellent results in normal oven with the bottom heating element. I didn't take the temp on the stone (as suggested I will buy a thermometer to be able to do that) but I'm fairly certain it was not up to the temp it needed to be.

On top of that, as you pointed out, the dough would then cool the stone further and without additional bottom heat it likely would not have been able to maintain temp even if it did make it to temp in the one hour preheat.

I actually did a one hour pre-heat at 500 F then dropped the temp to 450 for the bake. The bread was in the oven for a total of 45 minutes (not a large loaf either) and the bottom did not brown at all.

I'm glad you mentioned steel, as I have recently been researching this and am leaning towards getting one for baking both bread and pizza. I understand it does conduct heat much better, so that may be of some help in this situation.

I think what I will do is buy the infrared thermometer then put my stone, a cast iron skillet and a SS skillet in the oven and heat to 450 for 30 min, then take the surface temp of each for comparison. Meantime I am going to bake another loaf on Sunday and try putting my stone near the broiler during the preheat in the hopes that it will absorb enough heat.

Goats In The Kitchen's picture
Goats In The Kitchen

Good suggestion on the thermometer, I will get one of those. I have a regular oven thermometer but I can see the value of one that will register surface temperature.

I had just assumed the stone would get hot enough from the circulating air, but now that I consider it (not being anything close to a science geek though!) I seem to recall reading something about hot air not being an especially efficient way to heat. For example, radiant floor heat warms much faster than forced air heat. So if that is true, it makes sense that the stone would take a very long time to get up to temp without a more direct source of heat. I hope that preheating it under the broiler will provide a solution, at least in the short term. I'm getting my starter ready for a Sunday morning bake to test the theory.

 

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

The broiler trick has worked very well for many who use it for pizza, not sure how it will work for bread.  Hope you get this sorted out, Not to get too deep into heat conduction theory, but the closer you get the stone to the broil element the better in terms of getting heat into the stone .   

I really like the look of your range .  I have not switched to induction, in part because I like the idea of knobs to regulate the burners, not keypads that come with most induction ranges. 

 

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Barry, if gas is not available, induction stovetops are ideal. I’ve used one for years and once you get used to it, it is marvelous! The numbers are accurate and repeatable. It boils water in short order and if turned down while boiling it ceases in a heart beat.

I like to place paper towel between the stovetop and the pot to prevent scratching and ease of cleanup.

The big hurdle for induction is those sweet, solid aluminum pots gotta’ go.

Danny

Goats In The Kitchen's picture
Goats In The Kitchen

Yes, I was thinking to put the stone on the very top rack for preheating, which is only about 2" from the element so hoping that will work.

The range is awesome, we also like the knobs vs keypad. The only other ones that had knobs they were located right on the front vs these ones that are sloped toward the front but still easy to see from the top. Also this one had the burner configuration and sizes that we wanted: One very large (I also do a lot of canning), one large, 2 smaller + a warming element to keep my daily pot of chai tea suitably hot for this princess. :P