The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

New oven 'build' preliminary results

kendalm's picture
kendalm

New oven 'build' preliminary results

Recently I posted the arrival of a new oven that I purchsed as a dedicated bread oven, and since then have been in setup mode and quickly realized this has become a project as opposed to a more plug-n-play scenario.  So with that, I am seeing some positive results and want to share them here.

This is a small 350g batard tester loaf to see how well this (relatvely) cheap import mini deck oven performs.  the oven I puchased is a 'xoeleo' from china manufactured primarily for pizza and as such has required some tinkering and tuning.  Danny ayo was kind enough to send me links to a seal for the door and www.brookbake.com dug up a rofco steam tray (despite them being out of stock).  To date I have applied a door seal but still seeing considerable leaking steam from some of the other seams in the body.  Despite the leaks I very surprised by the fast spring on this bake.  Another surprise is the paper thin crust on this loaf.  never had such a thin crust like this ever.  

Very little went into the preparation of this loaf - the bake was more a first 'wet' test (as opposed to dry steamless) test, in fact I originally did not even plan to load but rathet test the steam so this is a last minute loaf sort of thing.  Very interested to see whats next. 

 

Comments

bikeprof's picture
bikeprof

Well that supposed genius doesn't get crumb as nice as that shot above ;-)

I imagine you've read the thread "My Rofco Experience" but if not, it might be instructive as it focuses on temp control, scorching, steam.

My quick read on a few things:

- use that IR gun a lot and get your temps down and predictable.  I made a chart of what dial settings delivered what stable temps and Rofco's #'s were WAY off.  As you said, it holds heat well, so even if you turn it down to keep the elements from cycling on, you probably don't need to start that hot, esp. with stones that retain so much heat. I recall doing a bit of cycling elements off/on to get things just the way I wanted (but I still scorched tops often). 

- With lower temps and proper venting, baguettes should probably get at least 20 minutes (I do 17 with steam then 5-6 more after venting for 325g baguettes at 480F).  800g sourdoughs get 18 w/steam then another 15+ minutes at 480F.  Super thin crust means not enough time, particularly AFTER venting (and so again - likely too hot, which the burnt bottom attests to).

- And yes, good venting, and maybe too much steam...that baguette looks to me like it got too much steam to me, so you may be overdoing it.  On venting - open the door at your vent time to make sure you're getting the extra moisture out.  While temp's are pretty straight forward (too much heat = shorter bakes and scorching), steam can be deceptive, as folks have noted above.

- And just keep after it...

kendalm's picture
kendalm

The 'my rofco experience'.  I recall reading it a couple years back and had a vague memory of the rrials and tribulatuons.  So now I am in the same situation.  I think one of the first challenges is learning how to deal with a stone that sits directly above some very powerful heating elements which compared to a stone sitting on a rack in a gas domestic, heats up really fast and stays hot.  As I've experimented, I have been thinking about using the ambient temps after shuttinng the thing down which you discuss in your thread.  I think this unit is probably more like a haussler but either way a similar design concept.  Would love a haussler but dont think dropping 5k is an option.  Also reached out to alfanso by email whos really dialed in his domestic electric and his advice is 460-480F.  Again, I became so accustomed to having to blast my gas unit which at 550F could only spring 3 350g loaves at once.  Anymore than about a kilo of dough and heat / energy was just not there and would not spring the loaves.  So it  sure seems I've got to take more notice of the temps and really connect the IR gun readings to the dials.  will get there.  In the very least I think this thread and others like it should hopefully provide insight to anyone else taking the step from domestic to a semi-professional style oven.  Thanks again bikeprof.  Maybe will see a round river franchise in L.A. one day ! 

kendalm's picture
kendalm

Looks like the combined advice of idaveindy, dan, bikeprof alfanso, doc dough, MT etc is paying off.  Temps dialed way down, upper element off in fact whole oven off at bake time.  the residual heat produced some burst and the progression from dough to bread was much much more on par with a normal bake.  ie bursts showing early in this case about 3 mins in (I prefer 2 mins).  color coming in at the end.  I evacuated against bikeprof's 17 minute advice only so I can guage my normal evacuation habits of 10 to 11 mins.  the stone was only around 420F most of the bake.  Ambient was (I cant believe this) about 390F the whole time except fornthe last 2-3 whereby I triggered off the top element since this entire bake was a bit slow so accelarated the very end phase.  total time exactly 20 mins.

This leads me to believe these pillowy loaves that still soft hours (days even) later are essentially steam cooked.  This loaf looks, smells and even sounds like a normal loaf with the cracking song while cooling.  Incredible difference.  Its also mind blowing this happened at ~390F.  this oven has a celcius dial so will bump it up a notch on the next round - 

 

 

 

 

 

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Serious improvement!

Artisan baking is not for the faint of heart. Persistence is a necessity...

Is the ROFCO Steam Tray giving you enough steam?

kendalm's picture
kendalm

Yes, I am using 3oz and seem to be trapping it quite well.  I used the mirror test and also not seeing plumes emerge from the heat vents on the outer shell sides anymore since I silconed the joints on the inner.  Back to my saying - its 50% ingredients, 50% equipment control ! 

Benito's picture
Benito

Wow what a difference, you guys are really good problem solvers, very impressive.  It is remarkable how even and straight that long baguette is Geremy, you have some serious shaping skills.  So great that you are getting this new oven dialed in.

kendalm's picture
kendalm

Hey Benny - funny you say that coz I've been out of the game so long I was a bit irratated at myself for not being a little more consistent.  ha ha - I have said many times here that I think cylinders are so tricky.  I will try to pre-shape with already some length, and then take care building more length at the initial folds.  I want to see about 75-80% length before rolling otherwise its too much stress on the dough and, risk of thin sections increases.  the last thing I want is a thin section.  Finally, no rush and g-d speed ;) 

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

Can you explain how you control the oven?  Where are the sensors that the thermostat uses?  Separate thermostats for upper and lower elements? Or do you have to trick it into using the elements you want by changing modes?  Have you checked the oven wall temperature with your IR sensor? Any idea what the emissivity of the interior of the oven is? 

390°F is hot enough to brown when there are 5-carbon sugars and protein in the crust but it does seem a little cooler than most of us are using.  I start at 525°F and finish at 340°F but because almost all of the heat transfer is via convection the surface temperature matches the thermostat fairly soon after the program steps to the next stage.

kendalm's picture
kendalm

No tricks needed here.  The markings on each dial are in Celcius 0-350.  A top and bottom temp sensor controls the automatic toggling and all I can say is that the stone gets hell-a-hot hell-a-fast.  As bikeprof and Dan are advocating - use the IR gun to really make best sense of the dial positions.  What think is going to happen is a routine whereby the lower is dial needs to be set a tad bit lower than the top.  Its finding those sweet spots.  Did another bake just now bumping the amvient to about 430 and stone to around 450.  better crust with earlier earlier evacuation - dough under proofed so it was a very similar loaf to the above - its so dang hot here in L.A. Im too lazy to upload pics - plz use imagination ! 

kendalm's picture
kendalm

yes on the wall readings next round. 

kendalm's picture
kendalm

Baked this at about 420F.  Having a hard time getting the oven to hit 450F-ish at bake time especially now that the top element has been identified as having to turned off entirely when its time to load.  In this case I started with internal temps at just over 500F, stone around 510F.  As soon as the steam is activated the temp will drop considerably (to 420F) After this point the internal is rather stable - very stable actually.  I think the steam and humidity inside is good it just apoears to me at this point I need to figure out settings to get this thing a bit hotter once steam is introduced.  As for the first identified problem of super fast browning and pillowy loaves after cooling - that is totally under control.  I find that I need to evacuate rather early at about 7 mins and the final crust is spot on.  

 Only saw burst on the ends as above.  the interior scores show some beginning tears but never really went full on like the ends.  Getting closer ! 

Benito's picture
Benito

Geremy good to see that you’re gradually getting thing closer to what you need to bake the bread you want. I’m sure it won’t be long now. 
benny

kendalm's picture
kendalm

Heres some pics from today where jacked the temps up near max and got the internal to almost 440F after steam addition.  Some burst and what I am observing now is the loaf beginning to rupture around 2 minutes and then tuckering out during minutes 3-5.  We should see continued rise in this time slot but the spring is mostly done by 3 minutes.  Thats too early.  Could it be proofing ? doubtful.  I only say that due to having done so many of these loaves that I am pretty confident in this arena.  I did bump hydration to 74% on this bake (up from 71-72%) and as such got my favorite type of crumb - the very lacey open crumb as shown below.  At this point I am thinking about ordering a thick custom slab as I have been shooting ideas by PM with doc dough.  Also had some queries from brookbake.com guys about performance with stone thinness and how that is affecting things - so Andy if your out there in the ether, it looks like thick might be your huckleberry - heres some pics - 

 

 

 

 

 

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

is the water at/near boiling or at room temp?  (Cooler water robs heat.)

Also, you're still adding just 2 fluid ounces?  (more water robs heat too.

--

Maybe I misunderstood, but I think you said you are turning off the bottom element too, when loading the dough. Why?  What happens when you leave the lower element on and set to 450 F ?

kendalm's picture
kendalm

I'm leaving the bottom element switch on and it will auto adjust based on thermo readings.  I boil the water first - we are on the same page (see my reply to your ice advice) 

kendalm's picture
kendalm

Tried raising the plate by 3 inches and really didnt see much improvement - again seems to rising then stop rising about 2 mins in.  hmmm 

 

 Why did the first loaf burst so well and why can't I use a camera ! 

kendalm's picture
kendalm

At least this worked - 

 

Benito's picture
Benito

It’s not your camera Geremy, your baguettes are too long. 😆

The crumb definitely worked.

kendalm's picture
kendalm

Believe it or not - so really not that long.  btw next weekend will try the canadian flour ;) 

Benito's picture
Benito

I will be very interested in your reviews. What I am using currently is Milananse organic all purpose from Quebec. So far it seems fine. 

kendalm's picture
kendalm

Believe it or not - so really not that long.  btw next weekend will try the canadian flour ;) 

kendalm's picture
kendalm

Now doubting my proofing skills I chopped some time off final and also changed up the loading procedure to really minimize how long door is open.  As result I can see the loaves looking more lively but still perplexed as to why rising is stopping so early.  Im fairly certain steam is not an issue.  One observation - scores where the open dough is exposed looks very glossy and crisp.  Perhaps thats visible in the pics.  That makes me wonder if the walls and ceiling are sort of toasting the surface.  More to figure out - more to solve - 

 

 

 

 

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

(Just throwing out ideas.)

is too much steam, either in quantity or duration, I'm not sure. The shiny crust reminds me of newbies' pictures of steaming too long.

Next thought... are you using a  thermometer on top of the stone? The reason I ask is that in one pic, it showed the ledge,  upon which the stone rests, effectively seals the air space below the stone (if I interpreted it correctly), therefore the lower thermostat setting doesn't reflect the air temp above the stone, because there is no circulation between below the stone and above the stone.

3rd thought: After preheat, how much time do you give it before loading the dough, in order for the upper element to cool from 700 (or whatever) down to 500 (or whatever) ?  Any residual heat in the upper element, above desired air temp, is going to radiate heat  (as opposed to convection heat) downward and over-bake the top.

4th... maybe an internal roof is needed so that the upper element can be cycled on/off via thermostat, and so that air temp can be maintained, but the bread can still be shaded from the upper radiant heat.

Good luck, amigo.

kendalm's picture
kendalm

in this thread entitled 'I take that back'.  Oven was too hot and too much steam.  At point I remarked that I saw an 80-100F drop in internal temp at introduction of H2O.  So now I've practically forgone the upoer element with lower at max and just a tad of water.  You were spot on ! 

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

(or else a brain fart.)

My prev comment about an inner roof triggered another line of thought.  

what if, during preheat, the upper element is getting the whole metal ceiling of the baking chamber over 700 (or whatever temp) and then the whole ceiling is re-radiating that excess heat back down on the dough?

Because other than too much steam (either quantity or duration, I'm not sure), your bread does look like the loaves of the guys using both upper and lower elements.  but.... they are using taller ovens, whereas yours is lower for pizza.

and... with radiant heat, closeness counts.

Suggested experiment:  assuming it takes 15 or more minutes to preheat with both elements, turn off the upper element 7 minutes (roughly 1/2 way in) after starting preheat from a cold oven.  That way, any excess heat above the 450 (or whatever) in the upper element and metal ceiling will have time to dissipate, and it can hopefully fall back down to 450 by the time you load the dough.  and therefore, the upper element and metal ceiling will only radiate 450 degrees back down instead of 700+.

See... with pizza, you want the upper part of an oven to radiate downward with 700 degree or more radiant heat. That's what happens in a brick pizza oven (700+ degree inner ceiling temp), and with Lahey's, Forkish's and Gemignani's trick of putting your pizza under a broiler to finish it.

so.... my thinking is this:  don't let your ceiling get up to 700 deg, or ... if it does, give it  a cooling off period, or.... use an inner roof to block that downward 700 degree radiant heat.

Whatcha think?

kendalm's picture
kendalm

Regarding your eureka moment.  For the record I shut the top down 6-10 minutes before loading.  I wish I had have recorded some data with firstloaf in this thread - I only know that I got the oven very hot and injected about 4oz of water.  blocking the top element is what I am thinking.  If I lower the temps, its hard to keep the internal air temp above 400F so I go back to the thoughts of the first bake.  Maybe I never activated the top and just blasted the lower.  Doc anf I have a separate PM going - he suggested tenting a loaf which I think is the next step.  Also was looking at some old pics I did of loaves in my gas oven and never ever saw shiny interior scores.  This is just so different (and frustrating) 

kendalm's picture
kendalm

Considering this problem seems to be about radiant heat from ceiling and sides I want to know if light surfaces reflect heat in the dark.  Oh boy, can't believe I am asking this ! 

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

it is complicated, but generally yes. Low emissivity surfaces such as reflective metals and some surface coatings will reflect infrared radiation. 

Benito's picture
Benito

Yes highly reflective surfaces will reflect heat in the dark, in the absence of light.

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

I have never had good success with getting small diameter loaves to form an ear, especially with high hydration dough. The (perimeter of the loaded loaf + 2 x slash depth ) x 1.15 is the approximate length of the hoop that will form when the surface is cooked by the steam and the oven spring first has to expand the cross section enough to fill a circle with that perimeter (you can calculate the area increase and the percentage area increase is quite a bit larger for small loaves than for larger loaves).  Only then does additional oven spring burst through where the slash has weakened the surface (assuming that there is enough force to do that). If the dough is weak, then the 1.15 can be a larger number because there is some extra stretch available and the surface never actually fractures.  That is what your loaf looks like.  The stretch is occuring at the slash and seems to be cooking as fast as it stretches by the steam (thus the shiny surface from the fully gelatinized starch).

kendalm's picture
kendalm

after dialing my gas unit.  But I agree the gelatinization is happening too early and yes theres a trade off with surface tension which only gets more difficult to overcome as ratio of surface versus volume increases.  Just like how difficult it is to inflate a balloon animal without a pump. 

kendalm's picture
kendalm

John Cougar Melencamp had a song called 'The Kinda Fella I Am' and thats the song that triggered in my head when I did a test bake in my gas unit.  This an almost steamless bake just to check my sense as now I am doubting my proofing and everything.  Maybe I am just not cut out for electricity - 

 

 

 

kendalm's picture
kendalm

Adjustrd the electric to only use the lower element .  internals up to 450F plate at 500F 2oz max of water for steam.  Bingo 

 

 

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Latest looks good! Keep the faith...

Next time you bake, please take a picture of the raw dough after it is scored. The opening of your scores are so evenly located and opened on the baked loaf.

kendalm's picture
kendalm

I have been keeping a somewhat close eye on the baguette thread and know both shaping and scoring have been popular subject matter.  Boy I really want to do a video coz I think one of the main things to consider is to just relax and takenit easy.  Thats the way I get better results but sure thing - I will take some snaps just prior to loading. 

Benito's picture
Benito

Glad it is sorted Geremy, great looking baguette, no surprise.

alfanso's picture
alfanso

Haven't been party on this thread until now on your suffering from and triumphing over the slings and arrows of the new oven.  But looks like progress is being made and the last few bakes are starting to approach the old kendalm.

Your John Cougar reference reminds me of a song by Steve Forbert, a late 70's folk/rock prodigy who kinda sputtered after a few albums: What Kinda Guy

Your perseverance reminds me of another Forbert tune: You Cannot Win If You Do Not Play

kendalm's picture
kendalm

Just can't help it ! The most frustrating part is that you got about 10 years on me so the 70s references I wish I could get 'em without having to hit up youtube - alas I will go and discover Forbet now.  Actually the reference I really want to weave in here was to Peter Sellers 'The Party' but that's just all about winning the adoration of a french beauty through fumbling and other antics.  Wait a sec, maybe there is a shoe-in here (pun intended - remember Hrundi V Bakshi lost his shoe).  

kendalm's picture
kendalm

Hidy-ho all y'all.  I shall summarize what I learned in moving on from domestic gas to semi-industrial electric oven.  Part of my mantra is that baking is 50% ingredients and technique and, 50% knowing your equipment.  So, this summary shall focus on that second 50%.  

Many a home baker will post here asking why their bake didnt turn out well enough to flaunted on instagram (curse that wretched platform, heck ! curse twitter, and facebook etc etc they reek).  Sorry for the segue. Now that I have regained composure, lets talk equipment in the form of that beautiful modern blessing called the 'oven'.  Up until this point I advocated really massive temp hiking, well it turns out that is important and still important if I use my gas oven.  What I think we are looking for ideally is around 450F and up with a stone temp closer to 500F and just the right amount of steam.  Yet, although this is nothing new / revolutionary, I want to more, highlight the reults of not acheiving these conditions.  I state this also having studied both Rofco and Bikeprof's testimony on his Rofco experience.  So here are a few points to note - 

- Too high temps equals quick browning but not quick rise.  Consider that 'not quick rise' bit.  The conclusion here is that the loaf is entombing itself within just a couple of minutes via early caramelizarion thus precenting expansion.

- top elements are loaf killers.  They need to be shut off long before your loaf goes in.  I would say 20+ minutes prior.  If you bake a loaf with them on, it will be a smooth football or torpedo.  If they come on even for a minute at the critical spring stage, it's game over.  Beware of top elements ! 

- too much steam will a. dump your internal temps by even 80F+.  The right amount of steam will only barely drop the internal temps.  Loaves baked with too much steam will become soft after they cool.  If you super heat the oven with too much steam you may achieve some burst but will also end up with a soft loaf that feels like a pillow.  no thanks !

- thick stone to retain heat.  The thicker the better.  I used bricks as heat sinks (see pic below).  Loaves should bake on a temp curve that starts high and ends low.  With this oven and Rofco technique so-to-speak, we shut the oven off and rely on residual heat.  Too thin seems to result in the oven cooling too quickly.  

- Long start up.  One hour, even two in order to capture and retain heat.  My gas oven will hit 500F in less than 15 minutes and even thin stone I use will be scorching but there is not as significant heat retention.  

- Just a little steam and capture not vented.  2oz in a small unit is sufficient and will not steal much energy from the oven.  If we consider how much water expands - ie a cup becomes cubic meters of volume then thats about all that needs to be aaid here.  

In order to make all this work I indeed had to alter some things.  After all this is a 'pizza' oven.  I think the most important point are 1. sealing the chamber so that I could reliably retain 2oz of steam and 2. Adding some bricks for energy storage.  

Beyond the above, tapping into the TFL brain trust ultimately helped recognize that this or that loaf result equates to this or that problem.  After all, it really gives you an appreciation for just how eloquently all of the right conditions must come into play.  And thats only half the battle.  Yeah, at the end of the day this experience, more than anything serves as lesson on how to identify results and adjust towards a solution.  Thats a fullfilling skill to learm but even more fullfilling is watching you neoghbors eyes light up when you gift them a loaf.  Boomshanka ! 

 

 

 

(sorry for the aweful photo) here you can hopefully see that I have installed a braided seal for the door.  The orange silicone sealant on the inside and four bricks as heat sinks.  An internal thermometer and IR gun to observe conditions and how they change over course of the bake.

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