The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Bread baking in bad oven

Adriaan's picture
Adriaan

Bread baking in bad oven

Hello there! I'm new to the forum, but not to bread baking. I've been baking bread for a few years now. I started with yeast doughs, but now I have a nice sourdough starter as well. Currently I have a low quality oven with a maximum temperature of 220 °C. However, for most artisanal loafs with only the basic ingredients a temperature of 240°C is most often needed. When I try to bake breads like those, I need to bake them for at least 75 minutes and then the crust is still light brown. Getting nice oven spring can also be a challenge. So, my question is:

Do you have any recipes for me for breads that can be baked at max 220°C and still produce nice and crusty and airy loafs?

Thanks in advance.

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

Welcome to TFL.

Could you please describe your oven: gas, electric, convection, top heating element, bottom heating element?

What baking vessels or surfaces do you have: baking stone, pizza stone,  dutch oven, covered casserole, covered roaster, etc?

What is your current steaming method?

 

Adriaan's picture
Adriaan

The oven is electric and has an option for convection, a top and a bottom element. 

I tried baking breads in my Dutch oven, and on a preheated baking sheet. I cannot put anything underneath my Dutch oven or baking sheet, due to the heating element. So for steaming I use a water sprayer during heating of the oven and when putting the bread in.

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

" I cannot put anything underneath my Dutch oven or baking sheet, due to the heating element. " 

I don't know how to picture that.   How many oven racks, and how many oven rack positions are there?

Adriaan's picture
Adriaan

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

I was thinking a standard kitchen oven.  We call that a counter-top toaster oven.

Those can be tricky for bread.

--

Do you pre-heat the dutch-oven in the toaster oven? If so, how long?  And, during pre-heat, do you leave the lid slightly offset so the hot air can get inside?

--

Another idea.  While the toaster oven is pre-heating, do you have a stove-top ("range" in the US, or "hob"  I think it is called in the UK) upon which you could pre-heat the dutch oven?  Some say that will pre-heat the dutch-oven faster.

Adriaan's picture
Adriaan

I do pre-heat the Dutch oven, but I've never left the lid offset.. Normally I do 30 minutes to an hour. I can also try heating the pan the other way! Thank you for all your input!

Adriaan's picture
Adriaan

So, there are four position. The highest one is so close to the heating element that you cannot even put focaccia there. When my Dutch oven is in, it needs to be in the lowest rack.

Meat5000's picture
Meat5000 (not verified)

A baking tray at the top of the oven will produce more steam. Can you place one there?

I get crusty wheat loaves baked at GM6-7.

Adriaan's picture
Adriaan

Do you mean just a baking sheet, or one filled with water for example? I can try that!

Meat5000's picture
Meat5000 (not verified)

Yep sorry, typoed.

I use one with a crinkly pattern on the bottom. More surface area gets the heat into the water faster.

Those ceramic pastry beads in the water might help. Surface area and heat transfer.

Adriaan's picture
Adriaan

Here you can see what my loafs currently look like. This is 99% whole wheat with sourdough. I was quite happy with the crumb, not with the crust..

Meat5000's picture
Meat5000 (not verified)

Looking good. Heres one I baked by eye with a baking tray of water, a round cake tin and a piece of baking paper. Goes to show... nothing fancy needed.

(Not my Thread so comments not necessary) Its an Illustration of what you can do even at 200 degrees.

:)

Adriaan's picture
Adriaan

Nice! I tried to comment on my own picture, but I failed.. It was a 99% whole wheat sourdough. I liked the crumb, but not the crust.

Meat5000's picture
Meat5000 (not verified)

If you do any amount of dusting or flouring during shaping etc, try using strong white.

Meat5000's picture
Meat5000 (not verified)

Gas Mark 6

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

(deleted)

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

  Especially the crumb.   Most excellent for a 99% whole wheat formula. 

I think you just need to let it bake a little longer,  --- or --- use  top heat for just a few minutes at the end of the bake, maybe 2 or 3 minutes only, will help darken the crust.  Watch closely so it doesn't burn.