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Old 01-28-2012, 11:30 PM
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Default Looking into WFO primarily for baking bread

I recently started looking into WFOs for baking bread. Currently, I bake anywhere from 8-12 2lb loaves per week in a home electric oven. The baking is spread over 2-3 instances and I usually bake 2 at a time on a stone (4 per instance).

My goal is to find a way to bake more loaves to save time and be more efficient in energy/fuel use. I would probably use the oven for occasional pizzas, but am more concerned about bread baking.

I have even looked into commercial equipment, but even smaller commercial ovens with steam cost 10k+.

I have read a few posts in this forum and it seems that using a WFO for bread will allow me to bake 6+ loaves at once (depending on the size of course), but I am a little concerned about the extra time it takes to get the oven started in the first place. From what I've read, I must build a fire until the dome is clear, clean out the ashes, and then allow the temperature to drop and equalize to about 500 before I can bake bread. That sounds a bit time consuming and I need to convince myself that it is better than baking two loaves at a time in my electric oven.

Does anyone regularly bake larger quantities of bread in their WFO? Any other comments or tips that can help me decide?
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Old 01-29-2012, 09:56 PM
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Default Re: Looking into WFO primarily for baking bread

I bake with a friend on Fridays and normally we put 20-25 loaves through my WFO in a couple hours in the afternoon. I start up the oven cold the night before and with a small fire, have a 200F oven at 7 am the next morning. At 7 am on bake day, I start firing with the intent to have +600F (dome temp) for at least 3 hours to heat load the oven. After the full heat loading of the oven, I clean it out and close the firing door to let it equalize. After an hour or two, I start my bakes with 8-12 baguettes at 575-590F, then Rustic French (sourdough), bread sticks, and then whole wheats, ryes, and Challahs. After we're done with bread, we always pop in some potatoes, yams, beets, or beans unless we've got spare ribs or salmon ready...

I don't see any reason that you couldn't be consistently running a good batch of bread through every day in a WFO. In fact, it should be much more efficient to do so since you always have the oven pre-warmed for the next firing. The commercial WFO are white ovens so they can continually add heat if needed but I don't see any problem with using the black oven and producing up to 30-40 loaves of fabulous bread every day...it's all about time management.
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Old 01-30-2012, 09:02 AM
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Default Re: Looking into WFO primarily for baking bread

Thanks for the reply Mike. Right now, I bake in the early morning. Would this be a feasible schedule for baking bread in a WFO?

11PM - fire the oven to heat load it
5AM - clean out the oven and let equalize
6-7AM - start baking
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Old 01-30-2012, 10:26 AM
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Default Re: Looking into WFO primarily for baking bread

Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffy1021 View Post
Would this be a feasible schedule for baking bread in a WFO?

11PM - fire the oven to heat load it
5AM - clean out the oven and let equalize
6-7AM - start baking
There are a lot of additional factors here. I think your schedule would work with the following stipulations:
1) Really good insulation (top/bottom/sides) on your oven.
2) Sufficient oven mass and size to do your bakes (How many loaves are you looking to do in one baking session? I have a 39" Pompeii style oven and do 4-6 loaves at a time. My 11 oz baguettes are about 20 minute bake times and my larger 1-2# loaves will take 30-40 minutes.)
3) As I said before, I've found that I need about 3 hours of +600 firing temps to heat load my oven...is your 11 pm the start time for firing?

If you are basically working through the night, the timing works out pretty well. If your oven has a large mass and is insulated well, you might be able to heat load it (or refresh it) in the late evening, close it up, and have good baking temps when your dough is ready to go in. My firing involves adding wood 3 or 4 times during the heat loading, so if you are up and working your dough you'd be able to throw some wood on the fire several times during primary ferments/shaping/proofing from 11 pm to 4-5 am.

A well insulated oven (with sufficient mass for its intended bake loads) when fully heat loaded will hold baking temps for an amazing length of time. Again, the questions are a) How many loaves are you intending to bake in a session? b) How many times are you going to bake a week? c) What's your budget for building an oven? and d) Do you have adequate space for the oven & wood storage?

Sorry to be so wordy, hope this helps a little...also the book The Bread Builders by Dan Wing and Alan Scott would be an excellent purchase for you at this point.
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Old 01-30-2012, 11:36 AM
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Default Re: Looking into WFO primarily for baking bread

No worries about being wordy, I appreciate the details and am trying to learn as much as possible to see if a WFO would work for me. Currently, I mix my dough at night and put it in the refrigerator in proofing baskets to retard overnight and bake in the early morning. I don't work through the night.

Is it possible to fire a WFO the night before and use the stored heat to bake in the early morning? Would an oven like this be able to store the necessary heat to maintain baking temps in the morning?

Professionale110 44" Wood Oven Kit :: Commercial Pizza Ovens :: Forno Bravo Store

Here are the answers to your questions:

a. Right now, probably 12-16 2# loaves in one session
b. Once per week as of now, might increase in the future
c. Don't really have one, but I don't mind spending the money to do it right the first time, maybe 5k?
d. Yes I have space, but haven't considered the extra space for wood storage.

Thanks for the book suggestion, I'll check it out.
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Old 01-30-2012, 12:08 PM
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Default Re: Looking into WFO primarily for baking bread

I'd check with the Forno Bravo (FB) folks on using this oven for bread. I'm sure it will bake the amount of bread you're planning but note that it's primarily targeted at pizza making...so I don't know what its heat retention characteristics are. Based on the great insulation they include in the kit, I suspect you'd be able to fire it up the night before and still have it at 450-500 for baking in the morning...but again I don't have any experience with this modular oven. Get an answer from FB on overnight heat retention on a fully heat saturated Professionale 110 to see if it will work for you.

I also use the preferment/overnight rest method, but I finish up the dough with sizing & shaping in the morning and then do the final loaf proofing targeted at 1-2 pm bake time. My baguettes use a poolish overnight in the refrigerator (Ciril Hitz method & formula) and need 3-4 hours of prep & shaping (after warming back up) before baking...and I'm not an early morning person!

I think the Wing/Scott book is really worth your while at this point as it answers a lot of the questions you have from a commercial/larger home baker's perspective.
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Old 01-30-2012, 12:45 PM
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Default Re: Looking into WFO primarily for baking bread

Jeff 12 or so 2# loaves is a bunch of bread for a single run in a 44". Bread pans would make a difference. I have a 43" and I've done 8 - 1kg loaves in a bake, I didn't have much room to spare, but these were all hearth bread loaves as opposed to bread baked in pan.

Chris
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Old 01-30-2012, 12:55 PM
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Default Re: Looking into WFO primarily for baking bread

Quote:
Originally Posted by SCChris View Post
Jeff 12 or so 2# loaves is a bunch of bread for a single run in a 44". Bread pans would make a difference. I have a 43" and I've done 8 - 1kg loaves in a bake, I didn't have much room to spare, but these were all hearth bread loaves as opposed to bread baked in pan.

Chris
I also bake hearth loaves, so I would probably do 5-6 loaves at one time, then do another 5-6 assuming there is enough stored heat to maintain baking temperatures.
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Old 01-30-2012, 01:01 PM
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Default Re: Looking into WFO primarily for baking bread

No problem in my 43.. I think if I did it enough that 7 or 8 - 1kg loaves would be fine and running a second load would also be fine giving the oven some time to recover and even out after the first run. I can't tell you if 20 minutes, after your first load is cleared, would allow the deck to even out or if it might take more time, my first guess would be 30 to 45 before the next load, but it's just a guess.. Others around here use their oven this way more than I do and will have a better idea about recovery times.

Chris
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Last edited by SCChris; 01-30-2012 at 02:29 PM.
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Old 01-31-2012, 07:45 AM
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Default Re: Looking into WFO primarily for baking bread

I have a Casa2G110 (44"). It is covered with ceramic blanket and built in a brick structure filled with vermiculite, so it is quite well insulated. I bake 5 to 8, 2k loaves in a batch - could probably fit in 9 loaves if I wanted. I normally fire the oven up in the morning at about 7 or 8 and bake in the afternoon around 3. When well saturated, there is plenty of heat for 3 or 4 batches of 7 or 8, 1k loaves, although I've never done more than 2 batches.

I often do sourdough miches in the first batch and then challah in the second. I aim for a deck at 550f for the miches. If doing challah next, I usually have to wait quite a while after the first batch for the oven to cool down enough for the enriched dough in the challah. I could easily bake a second batch of miche before going on to the challah.

I only need to give the oven about 15 minutes to even out after a batch (if I am not trying to get it cooled down for challah).

I've fired up at night for pizza and and then baked in the morning with some success. You'd want to be sure the oven was very well saturated - in my case perhaps a 3 hour burn. I normally increase the fire after the pizza is done and let it burn for a while - just shutting the oven up after pizza doesn't leave me enough heat in the morning.

It's all about thermal mass and insulation. If I were interested in making more bread than I do, I'd get the Premio2G rather than the Casa2G; the Premio has more thermal mass and, I would expect, holds its temperature even better than the Casa. I have one layer of ceramic blanket over the oven; I'd consider another layer if I really wanted to retain the heat.

As built, though, I'd be comfortable doing four batches of 7 - 8, 2k loaves on a firing, perhaps more, especially if the last batch or two was an enriched dough which required a somewhat lower temperature. The problem isn't having enough heat - its using all up the heat I've got. I try to do some quiches or casseroles after the bread but I still feel like I waste a lot of BTUs.

Doing smaller batches is actually more difficult; you need to get the oven well steamed. I use towels in boiling water in a baking dish. When fully loaded, the dough generates enough steam on its own. My bread results are best when the oven is fully loaded.

Karl
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