The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Chandley Compacta Pico Artisan Oven Review

RedPentacleB's picture
RedPentacleB

Chandley Compacta Pico Artisan Oven Review

 

The Chandley Pico is a scaled down professional Baker’s deck oven. The case is heavy gauge stainless steel. The door clasp grips the door tightly closed and requires a firm tug on the thick door handle to open. The controls are simple, mechanical, and straight forward; no digital here. It looks like it will work for a hundred years. I use the term “professional” here on purpose. This oven is a functional tool, designed for the baker to produce perfect loaves in small batches. It is not a high-end residential specialty oven. If you look closely, the metal panels have tooling marks. Some of the edges show mechanical punch marks. This oven was not made by a robot in an automated factory. It almost feels hand-made by craftsman. If you want a kitchen showpiece, look elsewhere. If you appreciate a well-designed, functional piece of equipment that just works and works well, this oven should fit the bill.

 

Basics

 

  • ·       Exterior: 30” Wide plus vents x 25” Deep x 16.5” High (762 x 635 x 420 mm)
  • ·       Interior: 18.5” wide x 15” deep x 7.5” high from stone to upper heating coil
  • ·       240v single phase. This oven came with a U.K. plug. I swapped it with a U.S. 6-20P
  • ·       Independent controls for the top and bottom heating coils, marked in degrees Centigrade
  • ·       Built-in steam chamber. You need to fill it when loading the oven. Manual vent on the left side
  • ·       Top temperature is 320°
  • ·       No inside light.

 

 What’s great about it

 

  • ·       This oven accepts standard half-sized 18” x 13” sheet pans.
    Neither the Rofco B5-B20 nor the Häussler Mono will
  • ·       The built-in steam chamber doesn’t take up any baking space
  • ·       The controls are basic and analog. One on-off switch, two dial thermostats. There are no electronics here to get messed up and require a reboot to operate. No clock to set
  • ·       Heats up fast
  • ·       Reasonably priced
  • ·       Produces great bakes
  • ·       Arrived well packaged and undamaged

 

What could be improved

 

  • ·       The door is two pieces of glass that are open at the top and bottom. There is no easy way to disassemble for cleaning between the two
  • ·       The door is spring loaded and when open on my oven is a bit higher than the baking stone. At counter height, the hot edge of the door can easily touch your forearms when loading and unloading and cause a burn. Wear long mitts or long heavy sleeves or be extra careful
  • ·       The included flask to pour water into the steam chamber has a rounded bottom so you can’t set it down when it is full of water. I put the flask into a cup to hold it up
  • ·       It’s a little tricky to fill pour the water from the flask into the steam chamber
  • ·       Some of the protective plastic covering was under the screws, so I needed to loosen the screws to remove the plastic. Not a big deal
  • ·       Maybe a high-temp pizza option.

 

 

 

Why did I choose the Chandley

 

Here in the U.S. it is hard to find a reasonably priced bread oven. I was seriously considering the Rofco B5 or B10 but was put off by the 6” baking height and lack of steam. Adding steam meant subtracting baking area which is already at a premium in a small oven. The next size up was a Häussler Mono which I felt was a bit pricey for the size. Any counter top bread oven actually made in the USA was well over $3000. Someone on TFL mentioned the Chandly so I started researching that. It had more internal height, built-in steam, and, when I was shopping was 750 GBP or about 1000 USD. It seemed a bargain. Unfortunately, shipping from the U.K. to the U.S.  almost doubled the price. But I believe Brook Bake LLC will be importing them to the U.S. which should help bring the cost down a bit. You can email andy@brookbake.com for more info on that. If you do order one, I highly recommend you get one or two of the optional baking trays. They are heavy aluminum and fit perfectly inside the oven. You can also use them as a peel to load. I’m very pleased with this purchase. I’ll try to add some pictures later.

 

Cheers,

Red

HeiHei29er's picture
HeiHei29er

Thank you for the write up and review.  I’ve had a few time conflicts when proofing took longer than expected and the oven was needed for baking my loaf and making dinner.  I’ve just started tossing around options.  Might have to look closer at this.  

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

Thanks for the review.   So it doesn't have steam injection, you just add it to a vessel - similar to a cast iron pan with rocks or other thermal mass?   Does it seem well sealed so it keeps in the steam?  IIRC, the Rofco has a vent to allow steam to escape in the later stage of baking, does this oven have that as well?  

RedPentacleB's picture
RedPentacleB

The oven is not connected to a water supply and it is not steam injection. This video shows the process:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6XngxuFgCFw&t=6s

Note the video has an older model, but is functionally the same. The steam pan is under the stone and you can't really get to it without disassembling the oven. I haven't noticed any leaks. It seems to work well. There is a vent on the left side of the oven that you can open and close. When the vent is closed, you can see some steam escaping. When the vent is open, the steam escapes faster. BTW: I use distilled water so there should be no buildup of anything.

 

albacore's picture
albacore

Thank you Red, for your detailed and well written review of the oven. It looks like a great bit of kit and I know a lot of UK bakers are buying them. Now if I could just find a little bit more space.....

Do you have any pictures of loaves baked in the oven?

 

Lance

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

Red , thanks for the link, it also showed the water bottle, that makes sense that they tell you how much water to use per bake.  

hodgey1's picture
hodgey1

Great job on your assessment of the Chandley oven and its pro's and con's. Like Lance, I am very interested to see and hear how your baking goes. Prior to doing an oven mod I was seriously looking at the Chandley oven and still have interest. Keep us posted on your results

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Red, how thick is the stone.

I wonder if 1 or 2 lights could be installed. I do lots of in-oven video.

Did you get the stand? If so, how do you like it.

you said that some of the steam leaks out. Where is it leaking? From the door?

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

WOW! I emailed Andy and the cost including shipping for the small Pico and a stand is $2530. (About $2000 without the stand). That is expensive for an oven with little history of performance. It’s the $410 shipping fee that runs the price too high, IMO. Rofcos ship for free from PHG. 

I plan to wait and watch...

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

International shipping costs don't get down to reasonable levels until the manufacturer ships a full container-load of the product. Hence, distributors.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Dave, Brooks Bake is the US distributor. Much like PHG is the Rofco distributor for the US. Wished Brooks shipped free... I like what I see in the oven. But need more accounts of baking by experienced bakers. Too bake Geremy didn’t get one of these. He’d gives us the low down.

RedPentacleB's picture
RedPentacleB

Hey, I'm not trying to sell these. There's nothing in it for me. Just sharing my experience with the TFL community.

But are you comparing oranges to tangerines? You asked for a price with stand, does the Rofco come with a stand? Did you add in the Rofco steam tray? Chandley has been around for 77 years, Rofco 25. I paid $750 for shipping from the UK, so $410 seems like a big improvement.What's great is, at the end of the day, you get to purchase whatever you feel is the best value for you, or not purchase anything at all. Having more options is better for everyone.

Cheers,

Red

RedPentacleB's picture
RedPentacleB

The stone looks about 1/2" thick. If you want more stone, you could always put another on top, but it seems sufficient.

I did not get the stand. I put mine in a 36" wide x 24" deep wire shelf rack.

Some steam comes out of the steam vent on the left whether it is open or closed. Just more comes out when it is open. If you really wanted to seal that off you could probably get a 2" steel pipe cap from a hardware store and put it over the vent. So far, this hasn't been a problem for me.

Installing lights are on you. I'm sure you could do it.

Cheers,

RedMy Pico

RedPentacleB's picture
RedPentacleB

See subject line.

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

Red, your pic is there.  Thumbs are tricky. Just don't select the "thumb" version when you go to insert it in the post/comment. 

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

If the stone sits flush against the walls, you may get some of the effects that user KendalM had with his pizza oven, repurposed for bread. See his blog or track page at:  https://www.thefreshloaf.com/user/kendalm

His challenge was/is that because there is no airflow from _below the stone_  to _above the stone_, the air above the stone stays below desired temp, while the stone surface stays at or above its desired temp.

Yet, if he turned on the upper element, the radiant heat from the upper element would over-cook the top of the bread.  Even when turning off the upper element at the time of loading the dough, the upper element and shiny roof surface still remained hot enough to radiate excess heat downwards.  It would set/harden the upper crust before full dough expansion took place.

It took a lot of experimentation on his part to determine how soon before loading the dough he had to turn off the upper element.

Since your baking chamber is taller than his, that extra distance from upper element to the upper surface of the dough may lessen the effect of residual heat radiating downward (radiant heat varies inversely to square of distance) and over-darkening the tops of your loaves.

He then further experimented with using  the upper element towards the end of the bake, in order to get the correct degree of browning.

-- 

User barryvabeach also uses a pizza oven to bake bread, and has advised others on the use of "top heat" when baking bread in countertop ovens.

I realize that your's is not a "pizza oven" per se, but there are similarities in having a stone over the lower heating element, while also having an "unshielded" upper element.

If your stone sits flush against the walls that would be another point in common with KendalM's oven.

Net: I'm just pointing to those two users as possible helpers/consultants should you need advice in "dialing in" the details of when and how much to use the upper element.

Hope this helps a bit.

Bon chance et bon appétit, amigo.

RedPentacleB's picture
RedPentacleB

There is a small gap between the stone and the walls, Not enough for air circulation. Seems to bake just fine though. I do anticipate years of experimentation with different top and bottom temp settings.

Cheers,

Red

albacore's picture
albacore

Surely that's how a big deck oven is set up anyway? And they work just fine!

And, (slightly off topic), there's this big thing with home ovens that you shouldn't have direct top heat in the early stage of the bake - which I agree with incidentally.

Yet with deck ovens, not that I know much, but I never hear of bakers turning off the top element - if anything, the top temp is normally set higher than the bottom throughout the bake.

What gives?

Red, how did you set the thermostats for the bakes?

 

Lance

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

Lance, I thought commercial "deck ovens" (proper) have a 2nd stone, below the upper heating element, above the bread.  Hence, the bread does not get direct radiant heat from the upper element (which is red hot, and over 1000•F), only re-radiated (lesser) heat from the upper stone.

Someone please correct me if I'm wrong.

albacore's picture
albacore

I used to think this too, Dave, but FueledByCoffee put me right in this old thread

It's surprisingly difficult to see pictures of the insides of deck ovens (OK, I know, I'm sad!), but here's the video - have a look yourself.

 

Lance

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

Ah so. The bare upper elements were visible in video. Thanks.

I think I'll start a new thread/post to explore that.....  Why pizza ovens, home ovens, and consumer-grade countertop ovens burn the bread when using the top heating element,  but commercial deck ovens don't.

albacore's picture
albacore

Let's hope some deck oven users will chime in.

 

Lance

RedPentacleB's picture
RedPentacleB

Sour Dough: Top Heat 250, Bottom heat 210* (degrees C)

* For SourDough and Artisan products both temperatures may be increased.

 

This is a bit embarrassing, but when I went from single-loaf baking in a cast iron combo pot and a 400°F mini-oven once a week to two loaf baking in the Chandley, coupled with Covid, I've only done three bakes since installing the oven. I just can't go through that much bread that fast by myself.

 

The upper picture is a 70% whole wheat from the Butte Mill Flour Company Colorado coarse ground, grown by hippies, hard red winter wheat. I've found that adding 80% hot water to this wheat and soaking overnight softens it up enough for a good loaf. I preheated the bottom at 300°C, top at 250°. On loading and adding the water for steam I reduced the bottom to 230° for the entire bake.

The bottom is a Tartine style using Central Milling ABC flour, bottom at 230°C, top at 250°

albacore's picture
albacore

I love the mortar board hats on the bottom two and the others look good for 70% WW!

 

Lance

hodgey1's picture
hodgey1

Great looking loaves Red! Looks like the Chandley is working well.

kendalm's picture
kendalm

As mentioned above and summarized really well, it took many bakes to really tune the protocol for baking bread in my very similar Chinese oven.  What I do now monitor the temp until it hits (internally using an internal thermometer) about 540F.  From here I turn off the upper and wait 10 minutes.  The temp will be around 510F at this point.  I load the dough and then add about 5-6 oz of room temp water to a rofco steamer.  By the time the door is shut and the steam has been captured we are looking at internal of about 460F which will continue to drop to about 440F over the next 5 minutes until the rise has completed.  Around 6 minutes I crack the door a half inch or so and let the steam evacuated. 2-minutes later I shut the door and then fire the upper again for 2-3 minutes and then shut it off.  If I don't hit the upper, the temp will drop to under 400F and will have very pale loaf.  Hitting the upper for 2 minutes gives a good boost and doesn't affect the rise because that all finished by this point.  What I think is really cool about this oven is the steaming system and I think it's a good price considering I dropped 1500 for something I had to modify and hope doesn't explode.  Personally I am happy with this size oven because as you all know - long baguettes is my thing.  Now, from here I keep thinking about the next step, and what I would absolutely love is something bigger and deeper so that I don't have to load sideways.  I got some mileage to go before we get there but for me, a rofco is just too dang small.  This oven is really exciting ! 

RedPentacleB's picture
RedPentacleB

https://chandleyovens.co.uk/product-category/artisan-bakery-equipment/

The Pico Plus is double the size and takes a full baking tray. It does cost more, but not twice as much.

 

Cheers,

Red

Cellarvie's picture
Cellarvie

Hi Red, a big "thank you" for your timely and detailed review.  My hobbyist baking obsession's gradually destroying my domestic oven so I've been considering the addition of a small bread oven.  The Chandley looks  really interesting - volume, temperature, steam all look just what I need.  My kitchen doesn't have much room though so I plan to store whatever oven I get on a wheeled trolley in an adjacent room (same level) and wheel it into the kitchen when needed.  Does that sound like a viable option, does the Chandley look as if it might handle a mobile life? 

Thank you for sharing, and I hope you beat that darned Covid bug and get back to baking often again soon.

RedPentacleB's picture
RedPentacleB

I have mine on a 36" x 24" wire shelf. You can get these shelves with lower uprights and wheels. I put some ceramic floor tiles under each corner to keep the feet from pressing through the wire gaps. As long as the base is sturdy, you shouldn't have any problems wheeling it around. Or maybe the Chandley base has a wheel option. You can check with Brook Bake.

Cheers,

Red