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Old 02-21-2010, 04:11 PM
heliman's Avatar
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Default Door for bread baking???

I make a quick loaf of bread yesterday in the WFO. I got the fire to around 240 degrees (measure with IR gun) and then placed the loaf in to bake, without the door. After about 10 minutes I noticed that the loaf wasn't browning so I put the door on and then it seemed to cook normally.

Quick question to the experts ... is it necessary to use the door when baking bread in a WFO? I thought that is was optional but after my last baking exercise I think that this could be wrong. Maybe a higher temp would make a difference.

TIA
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Old 02-21-2010, 06:36 PM
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Default Re: Door for bread baking???

Not being remotely qualified to respond, here's my take on it.

If I understand things correctly, the air in an open-door oven is a mess. It's swirling around, moving all over the place, heat (and temperature) are constantly moving, shifting, wafting, etc. For foods that mostly cook through contact with the floor (like pizza), this doesn't matter (am I wrong about how a pizza cooks? Correct me please!). For foods that rely heavily on absorbing heat from the air, however, this won't work. You need to create a "smooth" environment. Closing the door permits the heat to even out throughout the interior and for things to generally calm down. Heat is then efficiently absorbed by all surface (and solids) in the oven, namely food that is baking.

That's how I think it works. Of course, my theory must be slightly flawed since it suggests that pizza is effectively grilled on a hot flat griddle-like-surface, which can't be correct because that isn't the traditional way of cooking pizza, so I must be a little wrong about something here.

I'm sure someone else will chime in...
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Old 02-21-2010, 09:43 PM
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Default Re: Door for bread baking???

Thanks for that overview Keith ...

I am just wondering then how ones controls the internal temp with the door fitted as I would think that the fire continues burning and continues to heat up the oven chamber. I would also think that the oven would reach a point when all the oxygen is used up and the fire starts to die down. Perhaps leaving the door slightly open would allow the heat to be regulated, and the oven maintained at the desired temperature. This looks like a pretty exact science!!!
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Old 02-21-2010, 10:42 PM
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Default Re: Door for bread baking???

First of all, I just started reading the FB pizza book in prep for getting my oven through the curing process and it explains some of my earlier confusion. Pizza in a brick oven cooks in three ways: direct contact with the hot floor, radiation from the ceiling, and the draw and flow of air via the open door and heat-induced motion.

Second, although I am speculating, I seriously doubt an oven will continue to heat up after you put the door on. You admit that the fire will suffocate but question whether it will first heat up for a while. I strongly suspect that in a small oven a fire of any reasonable size will suffocate in a matter of seconds, a minute at most. Once the oxygen is depleted (it isn't "gone" of course, that's the wrong terminology) the oven immediately enters the cool-down phase (which can obviously take several days to complete). The point is, mathematically, an oven starts cooling down within seconds of putting the door on. It certainly doesn't heat up since there is no source of additional heat. Cooling down is the only option left.

That said, I can imagine that some areas in an oven may heat up when you put the door on. The reason is that when you close the oven, it starts equalizing. An open oven is pulling in fresh air and evacuating old air, it's a stirred up heterogeneous mess. A closed oven mixes up until all of the air and the interior surfaces are homogeneous...so toward that end, some of the colder areas might heat up while some of the hotter areas cool down...then the whole thing starts slowly cooling down.

As for whether one should or could crack the door to keep a fire going for the purpose of regulating the temperature, that is well beyond the realm of my knowledge, or even speculation, but I'm not aware of other FBers doing that, so I suspect it isn't the "right" way to do it. I think the right way to do it is to reach your target temperature (or perhaps barely surpass it), put an insulated door with a good seal on, and assume the oven will have the proper temperature for the requisite time to cook certain kinds of foods...but I really don't know what I'm talking about!
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Old 02-22-2010, 01:07 PM
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Default Re: Door for bread baking???

Quote:
Originally Posted by heliman View Post
Thanks for that overview Keith ...

I am just wondering then how ones controls the internal temp with the door fitted as I would think that the fire continues burning and continues to heat up the oven chamber. I would also think that the oven would reach a point when all the oxygen is used up and the fire starts to die down. Perhaps leaving the door slightly open would allow the heat to be regulated, and the oven maintained at the desired temperature. This looks like a pretty exact science!!!
Hi Rossco,
I think most of us cook breads without an active fire, that is, the fire is built, gets to maximum heat and is allowed to burn out, The fire is then removed, the floor cleaned, and the bread is baked. I've always done the later step with door on.

That said, pizzas and flat breads are cooked with fire to the side and door open (see link for a short youtube I made for interested family and friends (Pita & Pizza)). Even after this shot, though, I cleaned out the oven and baked some bread. The art and science are trying to match up the timings for the dough rise and oven temps. I've got that down pretty well now, but with warmer weather coming, I'm sure I'll have a few misfires (pun intended :-) before I hit it right again.

Pdiff

Last edited by Pdiff; 02-22-2010 at 01:16 PM.
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Old 02-23-2010, 08:54 AM
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Default Re: Door for bread baking???

There are a number of threads in which proper bread technique has been addressed- I don't know which ones they are right now, unfortunately. See if you can find them- you'll find they have a lot of information on baking bread in general.

I always use my door to bake. You do have to heat the oven fully or it isn't heated all the way through. Think of it this way- if you just heat the surface to your desired temp, as soon as you stop heating, the bricks suck the heat further in, leaving your oven floor cooler. Your door helped stop heat leaving through the front door, but I doubt that it ever got hot enough to start with.

To sum up:
-build a fire and "go white", I allow it to stay that hot about 1/2 hour so the heat saturates the oven.
-Once the oven's saturated and the fire's down, I scoop out the coals and ash and put the door on for 1/2 hour so the heat is evenly distributed throughout the oven. This is very important.
- after that 1/2 hour or so, I take the door off, sweep off the floor and if the oven's still too hot, I leave it off for a little while- then I put the door back on while I get the bread ready to go in.
-when the oven's at 600 to 550 F, I swab the oven floor to get the ash up, bring out the bread, check the temp (should be between 500 and 550 for most of my breads) and spray the oven with water until the steam rolls out the door- load the bread, spray again, and put the door on.
-I check the bread after 5 to 10 minutes, move the loaves around if I need to (even letting the oven equalize, sometimes I have one wall area hotter then the other or if I am doing a lot of bread, I will need to move an interior loaf to the outside and vice versa. Just do it quickly) If the bread isn't ready (and it can be, depending on how big the loaf is and its shape) put the door on and wait another 5 to 10 minutes. Nearly all my loaves will be finished, even the big ones, after 20 minutes at 500.

I can sometimes do multiple batches, but the second batch works better if it's a dough that doesn't need to go to 205 or better- a 195 degree enriched loaf does fine. Usually I'm doing 10 to 12 pounds of dough at a time on that first bake, so I don't need a second batch.

I give a lot away, just so you know. I don't eat it all! I just really like several types and so I like to have a couple of different loaves around at a time... and I'm still working on cooking in smaller pots from raising 8 kids- a meal for two looks impossibly small, even after several years...
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Old 02-23-2010, 02:01 PM
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Default Re: Door for bread baking???

Great summary - thank you Elizabeth. I was defnitely doing it completely wrong!

Hope to give it a go using the proper methodology this (long) weekend...
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Old 02-23-2010, 06:01 PM
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Default Re: Door for bread baking???

Not that it's a requirement, but I credit TexasSD with advising that the oven moisture is ideal with 15lbs or more. My experience confirms that, so get that 20qt mixer in gear!

Mark
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Old 02-23-2010, 11:45 PM
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Default Re: Door for bread baking???

Can you elaborate on that statement please Mark ... do you man that one needs to bake 15 lbs of bread at one time to get the best baking results??

(Tks for the vid Pdiff - good to see the process from start to finish!)
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Old 02-24-2010, 05:23 AM
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Default Re: Door for bread baking???

Rossco,
In a baking thread a few months ago Texasourdough, (he has an Alan Scott barrel vault) posted that his loaves produced the best spring, crust and crumb when he loaded to the 15lbs level. Most of the spring in the bread is provided by the water in the dough cooking out. The water can't get out after the crust starts to set, so the quicker the moisture leaves and the longer the time in which it can still leave helps the springing of the loaves. The moisture content, ( more steam to a point delays the crust set) and the temp have a lot to do with spring. I find with my oven anything over 10 is pretty good.

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