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Boring browned breads from convection?


lizztwozee
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Greetings, expert bakers! I've been baking for farmer's markets in a commercial kitchen for a few weeks now, and am trying desperately to get a prettier product from the gas convection oven I'm using. It has great capacity, and is calibrated perfectly, but bakes so evenly that my breads have an all-over brown color, even the grigne, which makes them look very dull, in my opinion. I was getting fabulous beautiful loaves (and I think they rose higher, too!) from my Vulcan electric, which has a top control, which I set to "high" when the breads went in, on a stone, at 450°. I was able to use steam, also, since there was no fan.

Now I'm baking on a sheet pan at 400° convection, and not really liking the results. So can I just not use the fan? There's a huge disclaimer right on the front of the oven that states the fan MUST be on when the gas is on, yikes! Don't want to blow up the kitchen, but isn't it OK to bake without the fan in a convection oven, usually? Your valuable input gratefully acknowledged, thanks!

Lizz

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"you miss 100% of the shots you don't take"

-Wayne Gretzky

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You need to talk to someone who understands gas convection ovens (i.e. not me).

But are you sure that the sign doesn't refer to the extract fan? Modern commercial gas ovens automatically cut out if the extract isn't working because of the danger of fumes.

Mick

Mick Hartley

The PArtisan Baker

bethesdabakers

"I can give you more pep than that store bought yeast" - Evolution Mama (don't you make a monkey out of me)

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I'm with Mick - check to see if there is one fan or two in the oven in question. If you've got both convection and gas exhaust fans, you can safely turn off the convection and get results more similar to the ones you're used to with your electric oven, and you'll also be able to use steam the way you were (although in a more limited manner, since the exhaust fan will still pull some of it off.)

Honestly, though, I don't think you'll ever see the same results you had with the electric in the conveciton oven. I've found that convections tend to be too perfect an environment for most artisan-style breads - the slightly random element of electric, wood, and conventional gas ovens seem to be important for a really beautiful final product. If you were using industrial bread recipes, though, I bet you'd find that the convection oven would give you amazing results. Then again, industrial recipes are designed for that sort of baking.

Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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Great thoughts, everyone, lots to think about. There's a large fan in the very back of the oven that turns on and off when the doors are closed and opened; I'm assuming that's the convection fan the sign refers to. It can be turned off with the switch, also. Don't know if there's another fan to extract fumes, as there's no sound of fans running when the main one is turned off.

I would love to know what bread recipes have in them that makes them work better in convection, and I definitely agree that a variation in heat makes for a much more interesting loaf. As for the lower temperature, I've always understood convection makes for faster baking at a lower temp. I should go back to the steaming, however; maybe some of the steam will be blown onto the breads! Thanks for the replies, all.

Lizz

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"you miss 100% of the shots you don't take"

-Wayne Gretzky

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Lizz, the other thing you can try is steaming using a spray-mist bottle - this means you have to open the doors of the oven, and spray the sides of it with the mister. This should get you the temperature variation that makes the loaves interesting, and it will also work better than a pan of water in the convection (thanks go to my good friend and fellow baker Sra. Cavisa, for that tip! She's got an industrial bakery with big convection ovens, and does up her whole wheat buns this way.) I'll try to snag some of her recipes, although I'm not sure whether they'll translate well to lower altitudes. At 10,000 feet up, I'm blessed with almost constant low atmospheric pressure, even on very sunny days.

Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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Interesting that a pan of water in the convection oven doesn't work as well as misting; I always assume the mist will burn off instantaneously. I'll try it! And any tips for rising higher in the convection oven are very welcome, thanks!

Lizz

---

"you miss 100% of the shots you don't take"

-Wayne Gretzky

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