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Baking with no bottom heat element

pshyvers's picture
pshyvers

Baking with no bottom heat element

I have this double oven LG range. The top oven behaves well but is very narrow, only 2 rack positions, which leaves no room below the bread for a pan full of lava rocks. The bottom oven is bigger with enough room, but it has no bottom baking element- only a top broiler element, and a convection fan. When you tell it to "Bake", it actually runs a convection-type cycle.

The first issue I ran into was of course everything drying out too quickly & burning, because I wasn't baking, I was convection baking, whether I knew it or not. This seems manageable just by shortening the bake time.

The second thing I'm wondering about is whether top heat only plus convection is going to impede the oven spring, e.g. by skinning over the top of the loaf more quickly before it can rise much. I've had some troubles getting good oven spring, and I wonder if this could be contributing.

Anyone with experience baking in ovens with broiler elements & no baking element, who can chime in? I'm also curious whether the steam story changes in a convection oven.

BaniJP's picture
BaniJP

Does the top oven have enough space for baking a loaf in it, regardless of lava rocks? Maybe even enough space for a casserole or something like that?

pshyvers's picture
pshyvers

Yes, the top oven is just tall enough for a loaf, although if it had a tremendous amount of oven spring the ear could get scorched. It fits most casserole dishes, and even my 3.6qt Lodge dutch oven. It's a pretty good size until we start trying to have multiple things in it.

BaniJP's picture
BaniJP

In that case you can preheat a Dutch oven, put the loaf in it, bake with lid on for ~20 min., then remove lid and bake until dark brown. Maybe you have to adjust the loaf size to fit into it.

That's a very common and effective way of baking crispy bread at home. The lid traps steam inside, which results in a very good oven spring and super crispy crust.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

"... top heat only plus convection is going to impede the oven spring, e.g. by skinning over the top of the loaf more quickly before it can rise much."

If it does, it would make sense to turn down the oven temp at first and then gradually raise the heat with the spring.

  What happens if you flip the loaf upside down when rotating the loaf?  

....Or start out with the loaf upside down?

pshyvers's picture
pshyvers

I guess I don't know anything about flipping the loaf, I never do that & am not even sure how one would go about getting good results. But I do like the idea of turning down the oven temperature, & thus the broiling element, while it springs...

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

IMO, convection is not helpful, it dries out the skin too quickly and impedes oven spring.  While lowering the temp is one idea that may work, the other option is to put in lots of heat sinks, like lava rocks, firebricks, etc, then heat it up as high as you can get it ,  then turn off the oven for the first 15 minutes of the bake so that the convection fan is off.  It will then work a bit like a Rofco, or a classic wfo, using stored heat.  Then turn it back on and the fan will kick on, though by then the dough should have sprung.  Note that will some ovens, when you turn it off, the fan continues to run, so that strategy will not work.

pul's picture
pul

I have been baking in an oven with top heating element only. I think my oven has more internal space than what you described, so I can bake two ways as described below. In addition, my oven also allows baking with or without the convection fan.

1) Dutch oven with convection fan ON

It is the best and easiest way in my opinion. I preheat the oven and dutch oven, load the loaf into the dutch oven and bake for 15 min with lid on. Remove the lid and bake for another 15 min with convection fan ON. Because there is top heating element only, the loaf browns out first on the top, so to make sure the bottom of the loaf is cooked well, I remove it from the dutch oven and flip it upside down so the loaf bottom is also baked for another 5 minutes or so. I get good oven spring and color using this method.

2) Baking on a baking stone

I can also bake on a baking stone (or granite slab in my case). Preheat the baking stone with convection fan OFF, load loaf, add steam (cast iron skillet) and bake for 15 min. Remove steam, turn convection fan ON and bake for another 15 min. To brown out the bottom of the loaf, I turn it upside down and bake for another 5 minutes or so until it sounds hollow. Oven spring is also good, I can't complain.

Hope this helps. It is a little more work, but it is possible to achieve good results.

 

pshyvers's picture
pshyvers

What does your oven do with the convection fan off? Is it "baking" just with the broiling element? Do you actually have a hidden lower element?

pul's picture
pul

The top element keeps heating and I can still bake when convection is off. I am not sure if there is a hidden heating element. If there is one, it's not doing much because the loaf is not cooked well until I turn it upside down. Our ovens are not the same, but they share similar challenges.

Camarie's picture
Camarie

 

My Ninja Foodi does no have a bottom heating eleliment either.

pshyvers's picture
pshyvers

Just an update, I tried the suggestion of turning the oven off for the first 15 minutes, and got better spring than I'd ever managed before, & consistent crub throughout the loaf. Resounding success, I think.

Only two snags were not quite enough heat storage (temperature dropped from 500 to around 380 over 15 minutes) and I didn't vent enough steam when I turned the oven back on. So it might be time to find a thicker baking stone, and maybe a faster way to water the lava rock pan. (due to the smaller oven cavity, the rack & stone obstruct the pan)

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

You might already have something to add thermal mass.  perhaps an additional thinner stone to put under your main one.  Or a cast iron griddle.  Anything that can handle the high temp and has mass.  It could go under the water/steam pan too.

Perhaps cheap non-glazed quarry tiles, or a travertine tile cut to size.  Be sure to allow an inch or two between whatever you put in, and the oven wall.

 

pshyvers's picture
pshyvers

Didn't even think about the cast iron, we have plenty of that

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Maybe you don't need added steam. Just trap in what comes off the loaf.  :)

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

A number of folks have had difficulty getting good bottom browning when they put their steam generator below the bread because it cools off the stone or the DO.  When they switch to putting the steam above the bread the results are better.

Without a lower element, you are dependent on the convection fan to get heat to the bottom of the oven, but that should be enough.  And if you add just enough water to the steam generator to last the 5-7 minutes you need to get a good oven spring, then you don't even have to open the oven to remove the steam generator.

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

Glad to read that turning off the heat and fan for the first 15 minutes worked a bit.  If you have a stone supplier locally,  firebrick is much cheaper than a baking stone and should work well to store heat  http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/61306/my-attempt-replicate-rofco-using-convection-oven