The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

SOS! New to deck oven baking

Baker_In_ME's picture
Baker_In_ME

SOS! New to deck oven baking

HELP! I got a Nero 400 last month after waiting what felt like an eternity. I very quickly realized that I would have to relearn how to bake bread (ugh), but I can't figure out how to get a quality loaf of sourdough to bake in my new oven. I get very little oven spring, absolutely zero ear, and the bread blows out the side despite having a deep score. It has been a very disappointing experience so far. 

Here's my process: 

- Preheat oven to 250˚C for about 2 hours. 

- Load oven (I'm only baking 1-2 loaves at a time on the middle shelf because flour is expensive for these experiments), spray the back and sides of the deck with a pressure sprayer, and quickly spray the door before I close it. 

- Bake for 10 minutes, open steam vent, rotate loaves. Turn oven down to 50˚C and bake with residual heat for another 10-12 minutes. 

I've tried leaving the oven at 250˚C for the whole baking time, but it scorches the tops of the loaves well before the interior is baked through. 

happycat's picture
happycat

If you spray down the oven, you cool it off = no oven spring.

 

Ming's picture
Ming

Sounds pretty funny. Is that the same as dumping ice cubes into a very hot oven? :)

Baker_In_ME's picture
Baker_In_ME

Yes, they both produce steam to help with oven spring.

Baker_In_ME's picture
Baker_In_ME

Hm... I'm not sure a quick spray of water will cool down 1" baking stones enough to change the temperature. 

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

I checked the inter-webs and saw that there are 3 shelves/stones in the Nero 400. And 4 heating elements (burners) : 1 under each stone, and 1 on the ceiling above the top stone.

 The "under stone"  elements of the top two shelves serve as the "upper (grill/broiler)  element" of the bottom two shelves. Such that each shelf can get both "bottom heat" and "top heat."

You say you used the middle shelf, ... but which elements/burners did you use and at what temp settings?

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A "side blowout" means the stone is not getting enough "bottom heat", or there is too much top heat on that shelf. The blow out happens when the upper crust sets or hardens too soon, which prevents normal oven spring.

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You don't say how much water you used. Lack of steam might also interfere with oven spring, but I'm guessing it's more a matter of getting/tweaking the balance of upper heat versus bottom heat juuust right.

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Did you contact the manufacturer or the seller on how to set the controls when using just one shelf?  What does the manual say about how to set the temp controls for the 4 elements?

Baker_In_ME's picture
Baker_In_ME

I set all four heating elements to 250˚C. Maybe I'll try turning the temp up to 275˚C to preheat and immediately turn the temp down when I load the bread in. That should give more "bottom" heat and less "top" heat. I give the oven a good 10-15 seconds of steam on the shelf, back, and sides (avoiding the light bulb), and another 2-3 seconds of steam on the door as I close it.  

The manual says to heat the oven to 230˚C with the steam vent partially open. Load the bread in and bake for 8-10 minutes. Reduce temp to 50˚C and bake until done. 

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

I haven't used a commercial oven, just going by what I read here in TFL.....

I'm still unclear about how much water you are using. Too little, and the crust will harden before oven spring finishes.  Too much water sprayed directly on the stone, and you cool down the stone to the point where it doesn't have enough heat to cause oven spring. Especially if the water is not already at boiling temp.

So I suppose both water-amount and upper-versus-lower heat are still on the table as possible causes.

Several owners of _single shelf_ commercial ovens have mentioned on TFL that they need only 1/4 cup (2 fl ounces, or 60 ml) of water, and they use a long skinny pre-heated steam tray.  I don't know how that would transfer to a 3 shelf oven.

(edited to add: kendalm used 5 oz water in a steam tray.)

Spraying walls and stones, with the door open, also lets steam escape. So maybe using a steam tray could allow more steam to stay inside. Just a guess.

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Another possibility, remote but possible, is that the heating element under the shelf that you are using is just not working.  The other 3 elements are capable of getting _air temp_ up to 250, but if that element is not working, you'll have a "cold spot" directly underneath the dough, (cold dough cools the stone), and it would give the signs you are seeing.

So.... during warm up, check to see that all 4 elements are glowing.

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I'll send a private message to user kendalm and invite him to join the convo. He blogged his experience of using a single shelf commercial pizza oven for baguettes, of tweaking the temp settings, warm up timings, top heat versus bottom heat settings, and amount of water. Read his experience here: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/blog/kendalm

Edited to add:  He turns off top heat several minutes before warm-up is finished, and turns off all heat when dough is loaded, then turns on top heat for the last few minutes to brown the crust. 

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You might also want to contact the manufactuerer and explain the problem. I have a feeling they will recommend a steam tray as opposed to spraying.

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Posting photos of the bread, top/sides/bottom/crumb, will also help people (manufacturer or TFL folks) diagnose the three possibilities: 1) too little steam, 2) too much top heat, or 3) too little bottom heat.

Good luck, amigo.

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

User albacore had this experience, not a commercial oven, but a few minutes of continual steam injection made the difference when top heat was on:

https://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/69169/oven-spring-oven-top-heat

His experience suggests that spraying _and_ having a steam tray may help your oven. Or maybe 3 steam trays in a 3-shelf oven.

Note: He's using a home-made "steam-injector" made from a pressure cooker and piping the steam into his home oven.

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

Is the manual assuming pan loaves or open-baked hearth loaves?

Baker_In_ME's picture
Baker_In_ME

Its not clear in the manual...

Abhi_Mahant's picture
Abhi_Mahant

You can try covering the top with some cookware and then remove it in later stages.

I've been covering the top with a plate filled in with water, the top feels wet, bottom turns brownish(which I cut off), I toast afterwards, I think it's cool to cut off browned part.

You can also disable heating element near crust initially.

Baker_In_ME's picture
Baker_In_ME

Update: 

I've tried four more test loaves today. Here was my process: 

Preheat oven to 250˚C, load oven, steam, close the door, and immediately lower temp to 200˚C. Bake for 15, vent steam, bake another 10. This loaf was raw in the center, but the outside was charred. No blowouts, though (small wins)

Preheat oven to 300˚C, load oven, more steam than the last batch, close door, immediately lower temp to 100˚C. Bake for 15, vent steam, bake another 10. This one baked through, but the outside was very burned. Again, no blowouts. 

Preheat oven to 250˚C, load oven, steam from bottom to top of oven and on the door just before I close it, immediately lower the temp to 200˚C. Bake for 15, vent steam, lower temp to 100˚C, bake another 15. This one came out looking the best. No blowouts, noticeable (but minimal)oven spring, but still no ear. I've attached a picture of this loaf. 

The oven spring was better with each bake, but never enough to give an ear on the loaf. 

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

and what's the % hydration, and % whole meal?

Unless they are small, trying to bake in 30 minutes may be trying to go too fast.

Baker_In_ME's picture
Baker_In_ME

70% hydration, 675g each, 100% white KA flour. 

I agree... 30 minutes isn't long enough, but the outside is burning at about 25-30 minutes. 

Edit: I'm mixing a new batch of dough to bake tomorrow. I'm going to up the hydration to 78% (When I first started baking, I was mixing at 85% but it was difficult to transfer the dough to a dutch oven) to see what that does for me. 

albacore's picture
albacore

The Brookbake web page for this oven lists several bakeries who appear to be using this oven successfully.  Why not contact one or two of them directly and ask them about their baking process?

Regarding process, you say the manufacturer recommends keeping the vent partially open when heating; have you definitely got the vent fully shut when the loaves go in? Is your door seal in place and correctly fitted?

I would say that water sprayed in before closing the door won't do much - most of the steam generated will come out of the door. Consider the steam pods that appear to be available for this model - or try the lava rock tray method or even  ice cubes in a tray - they won't lower the temperature that much.

Also, bear in mind that with only a couple of loaves you will need a lot more inputted steam than with a full oven, where self generated steam from the dough as it heats will soon assist.

Lastly, if your loaves are burning, try baking at 225C - you don't need to go to 250C to produce good bread.

Lance

sfsourdoughnut's picture
sfsourdoughnut

You might try going to Proof Bread youtube videos.  They are a professional bakery that has gone from a start-up to quite the local enterprise.  One of the owners has been kind enough to document their entire process even from the time they started.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8PUlZrngZQ