The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Upgrading from home oven + dutch oven to something beneath commercial steam oven

reedlaw's picture

Upgrading from home oven + dutch oven to something beneath commercial steam oven

I've been using the dutch oven method from Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast and I'd like to get the same results but be able to bake more than one at a time. Most home ovens only accommodate a single dutch oven. Of the medium-sized commercial ovens I've looked at, none have tall enough clearance inside to handle dutch ovens (they are plenty wide so would be good for multiple pizzas or baguettes). Is there an affordable upgrade for home bakers who want to bake with steam? Or should I just get a second home oven?

etheil's picture

Not sure what happened to my original post...

I switched my oven from a GE Gas to LG Electric (LRE3083) and have produced great results. Two racks are lined with unglazed quarry tile and the third rack at the bottom holds a cast iron skillet into which I pour boiling water to produce steam. I can get four 2lb loaves or eight baguettes with this configuration.


aroma's picture

I have a normal domestic electric oven and I have tried a DO and a terracotta cloche and found no advantage over just a plain baking stone or baking tray.  I now bake 4 x 500g batards on an oven tray concurrently in my oven without steam and get good volume in my loaves.  I have found that the flour is the important aspect in all this.


doughooker's picture

If I bake without steam, the crust comes out as hard as a rock.

PetraR's picture

I have a large Range oven and in the larger oven I can fit 2 DO's side by side and in the smaller overn I can fit another smaller one * if I wanted too *

I used to have a small oven that fitted one DO.

I prefer baking in a DO, to me it is a guarntee that the bread turns out just perfect.

Never had success with baking stones, and without steam they would be hard as rock.

reedlaw's picture

Why are wood fired ovens considered the best if they don't have steam injectors? Do most commercial bakeries use steam injection ovens? So far I like the results from the dutch oven better than anything I was able to achieve with steam pans and spraying the walls of the oven with water.

OldWoodenSpoon's picture

One of the big advantages of a wood fired oven, especially in comparison to many (if not most) home ovens is the thermal mass.  The wood fired oven has thick walls and a thick floor, both surrounded ideally by enough insulation to isolate it from heat escape.  The thick walls and floor soak up and store huge quantities of heat, so that the oven recovers temperature very quickly after you open the door to load, spray in water if you wish, and to unload.  A brief soaking period between loads allows heat to migrate back into the oven from the mass and restores the oven to even temperature.  Gradually, or rapidly depending on your oven wall and floor thickness and the effectiveness of your insulation, the stored heat dissipates into the baked goods and the atmosphere, and you must fire it again to recharge the thermal mass.  Think rechargeable "heat" battery.

In comparison, there is almost no heat storage in a typical home oven.  You must continually supply heat to the baking box or it rapidly goes cold.  Put in a full load of unbaked (anything) dough and it draws the temperature down significantly, and quickly.  The heating elements must work hard to bring it back up, resulting in significant temperature fluctuation during the bake.  Stones, tiles, cloches, dutch ovens all are attempts to achieve and hold a high and stable temperature, to roughly approximate the heat saturation available in high mass wood fired and commercial bakery ovens.  These approximations work pretty well for a small number of loaves, but the reheat time required to bake larger numbers in the home oven makes multiple bakes quite a challenge.  It can be done, especially (imho) if you retard your dough prior to baking, but even so the timing of multiple bakes is something of a challenge.

I can't tell you what commercial bakeries use.  Not my area.  I can tell you, however, that I love baking in my wood fired oven!

Happy Baking

reedlaw's picture

Thanks for the informative reply OldWoodenSpoon! If I switch my dutch oven out for heating stones it might allow me to bake 4 loaves at once. The only problem I foresee is the top rack will be very close to the heating elements which tend to make the top loaves darker than the ones on the bottom rack. My current baking method is to bake 30 minutes with the dutch oven covered and another 10 with it uncovered. Any longer and the loaf becomes nearly black.

gerhard's picture

Commercial bakeries use ovens of all sorts, from fairly small convection ovens to 100' conveyor ovens. Remember that decisions bakeries make are really a compromise between the quality of the product and the most efficient production method where the home baker is more about creating the ultimate loaf.