The Fresh Loaf

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Advice for optimizing oven spring in a small Toaster Oven

sawyerc's picture

Advice for optimizing oven spring in a small Toaster Oven

Sorry for poor Eng, non native.

Hi, I am new to TFL and baking.A home baker who is passionate with making Baguette lately. I am seeking advice for making an good oven spring :)

The biggest obstacle I have now is my small 21L toaster oven(Delonghi eo2150)

Biggest problems are uneven heating and stream making

It s too small and the bread is too close to the upper heating wire even I put them on the bottom rack(with a pizza stone).



First ,Crust forms on the top of my Baguette quickly and the color turns brown in 4~5mins after loading (i usually set my oven 230c and bake for 22mins)  It stops the oven spring too early.(I tried to make steam by spraying my bread even 30sec)

The heat is  so uneven that the center top of the crust turn black in 10mins while the sides are still white.

Color will be slightly even if convection mode is on but is not so effective. Also,I cant turn it on in first ten mins while the oven should keep as moist as possible.

Should I place a tray at the top rack  so it blocks the upper heat? but it may make the temp too low around my bread.

turn my bread up side down in the last ten mins to have even baking?

Or lower the temp and longer baking time?



Second, It  seems the oven cant hold any steam. There are too many vents and the oven door is not tight enough.

 as I must pick my breads on the bottom rack and they take space, i can only put the steam tray on top, but it will be too danger as it s so close to the heating wire. 

Currently I spray on the oven wall and the 30sec interval in first 3mins of baking,it s ok to spray directly on my breads or should I just spray the oven wall?  should I spray until 7mins? but the heat loss it huge from frequent door opening. The water on oven wall dont evaporate immediately after the third spray.

I plan to place a small container with some metal inside on the same rack of my breads and I pour some water to it at start, should I pour hot water or some ice? the steam will be gone with in ten seconds anyway and I still need to spray. But I hope it helps.

I have an idea that putting one more baking stone on the top rack so it block the over heating of my top crust while conserving heat and my breads can get baked between stone. It may also help retain moisture?

As a last resort,should I overproof my breads to make large air holes as I cant get proper oven spring anyway.

Photos below are my Baguettes 

DavidEF's picture

Until Mini shows up with words of wisdom, here is a point to ponder. Is there any way you could enclose the bread in a covered baking dish or something like a La Cloche? Seems to me that would solve both of your problems. If you had a clay pot that wasn't made with toxic chemicals, that will fit over your pizza stone, and fit in your oven, you can use it as a La Cloche, to hold in steam and distribute the heat more evenly around your bread. You need to preheat it with the oven. How long are you preheating your toaster oven, by the way? It should take some time to bring the pizza stone up to the set point, even if the oven itself is heated. I preheat my normal size oven for one hour, to give the pizza stone enough time to come up to the set point temperature.

Another idea, is to use a thick piece of metal, like 1/4" thick or more, instead of the pizza stone. Maybe move the pizza stone to the top. The metal will preheat slightly faster than the pizza stone, and will transfer the heat more efficiently to your bread. Also, the pizza stone on the top shelf will block the direct heat from the element, which is a good thing. If you preheat long enough, there will be plenty of heat all around the loaf, which is better than a direct source of heat from just the top. I don't know what you could do for steam in that configuration, other than what you're doing now - spraying the walls. If you preheat the oven a little higher than you will bake at, then turn it down after the loaves are in and spraying has been done, the heat loss from spraying will be less of a problem. I found that the best way to get enough steam in my oven is to pour boiling hot water directly on the oven floor, which is depressed a little below the bottom of the door, so it doesn't leak out or anything. This way makes an incredible burst of steam, and if I get the door closed quickly enough, it stays steamy for several minutes. If your oven floor isn't depressed, maybe you could set a shallow pan, like a cookie sheet, down there, and preheat it with the oven, then pour hot water on it to make steam, after you have put the loaves in. That is, if there is room beneath your bottom shelf position.

I don't know if any of this is feasible. I haven't seen a Delonghi eo 2150 to know what is possible in it.

dabrownman's picture

2 of Sylvia's steaming cups.  A Pyrex heat proof glass desiring cup with a dish towel in each half full of water.  I heat them to boiling and place them in opposite corners on the top portion of the vented broiler pan like this

Works great and my mini oven really bakes bread better than my big GE..  I don't use a stone and if the bottom isn't browningnas much as the top, I just fip the bread over,  Happy baking

GregS's picture

Aloha from Hawaii SawyerC,

Your baguettes look quite nice. Perhaps a few ideas that work for me could be helpful.

I bake in a Breville countertop oven with convection. On a typical loaf, I load the loaf on a heated pizza stone (lowest rack position) then cover it for about 12-15 min with a pre-heated stainless steel bowl with a flat bottom. This traps the initial steam and helps oven spring. After the oven spring time, I carefully lift the pan off and continue baking with convection. I would guess that it also helps retard premature browning.

The bowl is actually a large dog bowl! It was the only one I could find with a flat bottom to clear the top of the oven, but enough depth to also clear the top of the loaf as it rises. I would suggest that you continue using a pizza-type oven stone. Preheating it to a high temperature lets you "shock" the dough with a blast of heat when you put it in. It definitely enhances oven spring. Another tip: I use a small flat cookie sheet with a piece of parchment paper to receive the dough from the banneton. The parchment lets you slip the loaf off of the sheet and onto the stone with minimum disturbance.

Hope this helps. Maybe we need a sub-topic for bakers with countertop ovens.


david earls's picture
david earls

might solve your problem. I bake in a Sharp carousel convection/microwave combo, and have been experimenting with configurations. This is working for me in my Sharp - may not work for you.

Try replacing your pizza stone with fire brick. You can buy fire bricks at a home store like Lowe's or Home Depot. They're white, about 1" thick, and measure about 4.5 x 9". They're also ridiculously cheap, like $4 apiece. If I place two of them side by side in just the right spot, my carousel will rotate the bricks.

I also have a Waring single burner hot plate in my basement kitchenette. 30-45 minutes before I bake I place the bricks on the burner, side by side, and turn the hot plate to high. These bricks get VERY HOT, and you have to be careful transferring them to your preheated oven.

Two important things to remember from Newton: heat rises, and cold robs hot. Placing the fire brick on a burner will get it much hotter than you'll ever get it in a small oven. And the sheer mass of the brick will keep the dough from robbing the heat.

I've convinced myself that crust color is always going to be a problem in a small oven.You can try adding 1-2g of diastatic malt powder to the dough, but it's not perfect. I've found the small ovens do not retain steam and there's no place to put anything with water it for on-going steam. So I spray my loaves before they go in the oven. Not perfect, but we don't ever seem to have any bread left over at the end of the meal - 

Gorgeous crumb in your baguettes - 

FlourChild's picture

Your baguettes look great!  The crumb picture really shows what you're describing, the bread has larger holes at the bottom than at the top.  In addition to the suggestions above, one simple and easy thing to try would be to make a domed cover out of foil to shield the top of the loaves from browning too quickly.  In our stores there are lightweight, disposable aluminum baking pans that could be used in the same way, overturned to create a dome over the breads that would both seal in moisture (spray the inside of the aluminum dome with water) and protect from overbrowning.