I did a big bake (for me!) this Sunday, 4 loaves of "Vermont/Denver" Sourdough from Hammelman, 2 loaves of Walnut Rye Sourdough (Hammelman), and 4 white/wheat baguettes (Hammelman/Remoray).
The Dough all rose perfectly, last week I rushed it. I have to proof it in the oven with just the light bulb, as my kitchen is a little cold.
But when it came time to bake, I under fired the oven! I was not making pizza, so I figured I did not need 750 degree temps. I let the middle of the dome get white, but not the entire dome. I did not make a roaring fire like I do for pizza. Long story short, the oven was about 450 when I put the loaves in, but about 360 after 20 minutes. I guess the oven mass was still sucking up heat. I had excellent oven spring and the bottom of the loaves browned, but the tops were pale. I turned them upside down after about 40 minutes, and they browned some. The internal temp of the breads only got to 190. They still taste OK, but they are not pretty and the crust is wimpy on the top.
Next time, I will fire for longer, as If I am going to bake pizza and let the temp come down.
Can I bake a sourdough boule at 600 degrees?
So-so experience, excellent posting
Sorry about the experience, but this is an excellent posting. You really put your finger on it. You've got to seriously fire your oven for baking, where you get a nice fall-off to bake in. You can't use heat you never put in the oven. :rolleyes:
You can try starting your bread with the oven at 600ºF and see how it does. You might see burned crust before the crumb is done, if you start that high -- you can always use a little aluminum foil to moderate dome temperature. I think 550ºF might be better.
Of course Jim has the best experience here.
You have to be a little careful here. It is possible to bake at 600, but you'd better be on hand to watch and make sure you use steam. I'm with you, James, 550 F is where you want to be when the loaves are loaded. That way, you get both good spring and good crust caramelization. Drake, you're almost there. A little more management and you'll get it. It's always difficult, translating my procedures in a bread oven, to yours in a pizza oven, but it can--and will--be done.
I am not too discouraged. It is only my second bake...Next weekend I am going to try a full fire (maybe make some pizzas!) then put my new door on it and let it cool.
Where do I read the temp?
The more I use my Casa110, the more I love it. Next is to bake some bread. However I need some guidence in temp reading.
From the earlier posts I see the need for a full firing of the oven. As the flames die and everything goes to coals, do I still need to clear the oven, or can I leave the dieing embers in the back?
As the temp stablizes, where do you take the readings? On the floor, on the sides of the dome, or at the top of the dome?
And finally, what is the temp that you are shooting for - 550?
I also have a Casa 110, so I'm interested in the answers to those questions, too. I'd also like to know if it's safe to spray water in the oven to get steam, or will that cause the oven to crack?
I have tried to put some basic instructions together here, and have thought about making it a PDF. Would that help? Check out this page and let me know.
If you are going to do some serious baking, either bread, a turkey, or just a lot of different dishes (say a chicken and 2-3 veggies), you should seriously fire the oven. Not necessarily hotter as you might for pizza, but longer. You want to drive a lot of heat into the dome and floor that you will use for retained heat cooking. At minimum you should shoot for a fully white dome. You won't burn that much more wood with the longer firing, and you will be able to really feel and use the retained heat. Try 90 minutes, or longer and see how it works.
Once the fire dies down (or you take it out), you will see the oven fall relatively quickly from 700ºF to about 550ºF, then there will be a nice long, slow and pretty predictable fall from 550ºF to 400ºF, which is where you want to bake. Roasting is a little different, as you are trying to hold a higher temperature for browning, searing, etc.
If you have taken the fire out of the oven, the temperature will be pretty consistent in the dome and floor. You can also get good at reading the air temperature by hand -- counting Mississippis. It really does work, particularly for bread. If you leave in your coals, be aware that one side of the oven will be a lot hotter, and you will need to turn things.
I think this is a lot of the fun. Using the heat for different types of cooking, and getting different tastes and effects.
Let us know how it goes.
James, et al,
The target temp I use on the hearth thermocouple is 550 F. This reading comes from one inch below the hearth floor. I usually do baguette first, then heavier hearth loaves (1 kg), but sometimes both at the same time. At this temp, you get maximum oven spring, serious grigne development and great caramelization. But, I do inject a lot of steam, both before the loaves go in and once they are loaded.
In the next week or so, I hope to give many more details on these and other techniques I use for bread. Hope they will be helpful.
I guess part of the fun is to figure out the quirks and foibles of you particular oven. Baking bread in a wood-fired oven has just as many variables as pizza.
Personally, I'd always rake out the fire and use a door for bread. The spray technique, by the way, will not cause cracking in my experience. The water simply vaproizes in the superheated air, and never gets a chance to contact the brick or refractory material. Besides, these materials are pretty tough in my view. The "thermal shock" sometimes referred to just isn't a factor. Maybe use warm water if you're worried.
Don't forget, if you're using a recipe originally written for a home oven, start checking your breads for doneness at roughly half the time specified. For hearth breads and baguette, you're looking for an internal temp of at least 205 F; for enriched (butter, milk, eggs) pan breads, at least 190 F. At 550, my baguette reach the target temp in 12 minutes; 22 minutes for 1 kg boule. But you have to be vigilant :D .
For roasting, I usually let the hearth temp fall to about 400. This seems to work. For slow cooking or braising, 250 will do nicely. Overnight stuff, I usually wait until I've got 200, then walk away.
Steam and straying
I forgot to answer this one. You can use a spray bottle to help put steam in the oven. It tends to burst into steam before the water hits the walls. I know some folks also use a garden sprayer (just don't use the one with roundup in it). Just don't do anything where you get the walls or floor wet.
We have a page on steam (featuring Jim) here:
Going with your thought, baking in a wood oven is a matter of experience too and it depends that you are looking for.
As an example, if you like crispy and medium, medium well ribs, could be good to go with high temperature and short baking time, 250 °C 482 °F and two hours.
If you are looking for tender ones, slow down the temperature to 150°C 302°F and let the ribs bake by four to six hours.
The ones in the first picture were seasoned with barbecue salt and garlic, wrapped up with barbecue paper and baked to 150°C for 9+ hours. These were so tender (almost melted) that you could not use a knife to cut it. Delicious!.
The second picture shows a same meat cut type, seasoned with barbecue salt, garlic, carrots, green pepper and some tomato slices. Wrapped and baked as above.
The breads in the third picture were baked at 300°C and the ones in fourth at 250°C (no time, just closed look)
I think that this last two mails could be changed to another thread, for example “baking temperatures” one.
No comments under “disappointed bake” are auspicious
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