The Fresh Loaf

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Baking steel workflow and enhancements

ned55's picture
ned55

Baking steel workflow and enhancements

Hi folks, 

 

Recently made custom baking steel sheets, 8mm ~12kg each sheet. Was trying to find a sweet spot in my older Bosch Series 4 (or even older) Built-in Oven. No matter how I position it - can't get similar baking results from both shelfs, the top one has more heat and bakes faster/nicer. Tried top and bottom heating, fan forced (bosch calls it "4d hot air"), no luck to make both sheets work at the same time. 

Wondering if anyone achieved similar baking characteristics in home oven from both shelfs. 

Also was thinking to stack both baking steels together (if I can't make them work separately) but no sure the shelf can support over 24kg, it might collapse??

 


gavinc's picture
gavinc

Hi, Ned55. The first thing I noticed about your baking sheets is that there is not much clearance around the perimeter. I ordered a baking stone from my oven's manufacturer, and there is quite a bit of clearance. Just a thought that I think is worth considering. 

 

jl's picture
jl

putting a baking sheet above the top one? If you're able to manufacture your own baking steels (which is cool as hell, by the way), maybe even make a third one to put on top?

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

And send them the photo of the oven with the two steels in it, and find out what they say.

Just for a reference about wall clearance, see this baking stone manufacturer:

https://fibrament.com/Measuring-Tips

--

Gavin's stone looks like less than 1" (2.5 cm) side clearance to the rails, but the rails look like they add another .5" distance to the oven wall. 

His stone is also cut with a curvature along both the back and front edge. That ingenious feature guarantees room for air circulation even if the user places the stone flush against the back wall or the oven door.

--

I'm trying to put this as kindly and diplomatically as I can, while also conveying the dangerous nature of the situation that your steels create by being too close to the oven walls.  ---- Please do not use those steels again until you contact Bosch for their recommendation on wall clearance, so that you can cut those down to a safe size.  If you continue to use them as is, you run the risk of hot spots, scorching the oven walls, and scorching / degrading the oven's insulation, or insulating metal layers, which could eventually cause damage to, or even a fire, in the surrounding building material.

--

Once you get those cut down to a safe size and shape (I'm thinking of rounding or angle cuts at the four corners), then you can work on rack placements and baking modes to achieve your  baking goals.

Good luck, and be safe.

ned55's picture
ned55

Thanks, I'm aware my sheets are a bit too close to the walls, will cut them no larger than a tray that came with the oven. Seems like most air circulation is happening through the gap btw glass door and some marginal gaps on the sides. 

 

Back to the question, did anyone make it work to bake on 2 shelfs with baking steels? 

ciabatta's picture
ciabatta

That's a lot of mass in those two piece of steel there - how long does it take for you to preheat the oven and what is your target steel temperature?  using heat transfer through air to bring two big pieces of steel to baking temp is not very efficient.  I assume this is an electric oven.  if i were to do something like this, i'd heat the steels on stove top and slide them into place

As others have mentioned.  poor air circulation in this setup. be mindful of where the oven's thermometers are and that they are not shielding the thermometers from the heat sources. you may go above safe temperatures for the oven.  I would use an infrared thermometer and monitor all parts of the oven when baking to make sure nothing dangerous happening.

Even in professional ovens, there are hot spots and cold spots.  not likely will you be able to get two similar baking condition on top and bottom shelf here.  i see people swapping levels half way through for more consistency but depending on what you're baking, may or may not work.

What's the benefit of stacking both steels together?  more heat retention? one piece looks plenty thick to me. i think there might be something counterproductive happening here. 

What are your goals in terms of impact on the loaves?

James

ned55's picture
ned55

I'm using one sheet for now, cut it to the same size as solid tray that came with the oven, way better air circulation and cooling off time. 

I do have infrared thermometer, the steels never get over ~270-280C (has to be on the top shelf to reach such temp), checked all corners as well. 

My target temp is about 260-275C, I preheat in normal (top and bottom mode), oven max temp in this mode is 300C, takes ~40 min to reach desired temp for the baking steel, when I load the baguettes, I change the mode to "4D hot air", max temp in this mode is 275C, with smaller baking steels ventilation is good now, don't have to shuffle the baguettes at the end of bake. 

Usually I bake like 6+ baguettes at once, so I was trying to utilize both shelfs at the same time to reduce baking time. 

I'll cut the other baking steel next week and try again to bake on 2 shelfs at once, should be much better air circulation, maybe it was the problem. (Probably put the bottom steel on the top shelf during pre-heat, once reaches the temp move it to the bottom and wait until both shelfs are over 260C).

It's a lot of work to cut 8mm of steel, went through 3 cutting disks (angle grinder), only was enough to cut like 50%, couldn't get more since we're in lock down, switched to reciprocating saw and carbide blade. 

ned55's picture
ned55

Can't make it work with 2 shelfs (both baking steels), it takes too long (~35min) to bake 6 baguettes (bad oven spring, crust is too thick) vs 21 min if it's just one shelf with 3 baguettes (oven spring is way better, perfect crust). 

 

gavinc's picture
gavinc

Glad you've worked it out. I only bake on one level with my baking stone. I think the key is to get the steam to fill the oven and heat to circulate.

ned55's picture
ned55

Yeah, one shelf for this oven going forward. 

I preheat at 300C (max temp for top and bottom mode) for like 40min, after loading the baguettes and adding boiling water the the tray at the bottom I switch to "4D hot air" (it basically circulates the air, there is no heating element behind the fan, max temp is 275C in this mode). 

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

I'm not sure convection is a good idea. It'll even out the temperature somewhat, but it can set the crust too soon. Are you using the same mode with a single steel?

ned55's picture
ned55

I'll be baking a batch tomorrow, will try to preheat "Top and bottom" mode 300C, bake baguettes in the same mode at ~290C (single baking steel shelf). 

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

That's super hot! I think that's too much, you'll scorch the bottoms with the steel, and might, again, set the crust early. I wouldn't go above 250°C, maybe 260°C at a push... Especially with the steel which transfers heat very quickly, maybe stone could go higher. All ovens are different of course, but I doubt they would run 40°C different, especially with a steel to slow down the fluctuations.

ciabatta's picture
ciabatta

300C is quite hot and likely to burn bottom of loaf if that is the temp of the steel.  but if you set dials to 300C top and bottom, depending on how long you preheat for, the steel may not get to 300C.

also agree that any top heat during bake will likely set the crust and restrict rise.  Bottom heat only is preferred.

any steam? steam will help with rise (though some dispute that) and make for a crispier crust.

James

 

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

By the way, having two levels of steels might cause the top heat problem for the bottom level - the hot steel on the top will radiate lots of heat onto the bottom layer of baguettes.

And I assumed there was steam! That is a must for a nice crust.

ned55's picture
ned55

I have plenty of steam, the oven seals are pretty good, so boiling water in the hot tray at the bottom work nicely. 
Can't individually control top/bottom, even if I preheat at 300C for ~1 hour the steel plate doesn't exceed ~260-270C. 
I'll have 2 batches for tomorrow, so will see how much temp is too much for my oven. 

ciabatta's picture
ciabatta

Hope your steels are well seasoned. And you vent your oven for second half of bake to clear the moisture. 
Really looking forward to see the results.