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Old 10-30-2008, 08:03 PM
egalecki's Avatar
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Default poor bread

I managed to incinerate 4 loaves today. I'm really fighting with trying to gauge temperature. (an IF thermometer is on my Christmas list, but I really would like to get a feel for it without one!)

It was a little strange, though. The oven was too hot, I suspect, since I didn't leave the loaves in but about 20 minutes. The tops got VERY brown (not quite black, but still not good eats) but the bottoms weren't burned at all.

I had them on parchment paper when I put them in, could that have protected the bottoms? The bread inside, when you scraped the top off, was moist but not wet, with a lovely crumb and they had better oven spring than I had hoped for.

I did have to re-fire the oven before I baked- it had fallen to 350, which wouldn't have been enough for my dough. If I had let it sit with the door on afterward a little longer, would it have evened the top and bottom out (evidently so I could incinerate it evenly)?

Or did the paper just save the bottom?
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Old 10-30-2008, 09:43 PM
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Default Re: poor bread

I burned a lot of bread when I started baking in my oven...I sometimes have to wait 2 hours (or even more) from when I remove the fire before I can start baking. I find letting the oven cool down enough is sometimes the hardest part. It is one of the reasons I like retarding bread and baking it straight from the frigde, I don't have to time the proofing...
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Old 10-30-2008, 10:51 PM
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Default Re: poor bread

Quote:
Originally Posted by DrakeRemoray View Post
... It is one of the reasons I like retarding bread and baking it straight from the frigde, I don't have to time the proofing...
That makes a lot of sense.

Elizabeth, can you hold you hand in the oven for 4-5 seconds before you add your bread? One Mississippi, two Mississippi, etc. That would give you a good approximation for 500F. If you can can't do that, your oven is probably too hot.

If the dome is a lot hotter than the hearth, are you burning your fire on the entire cooking floor? You want to drive heat into the floor and dome at a relatively consistent rate, where they are somewhat balanced. A good fire should do that.

Let us know how it goes.
James
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Old 10-31-2008, 08:10 AM
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Default Re: poor bread

When I build my fire, it's in the middle of the floor. Should I be spreading it out after it burns a while and all the initial wood is involved? I always have to add wood after the first stack in order to get the dome to clear. Maybe I need to spread out the coals and spread the second batch of wood more evenly?

I'll have to try doing more retarded proofing. Yesterday's fiasco had a lot to do with loaves ready to go and an oven that probably wasn't.
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Old 11-01-2008, 06:36 AM
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Default Re: poor bread

Quote:
Originally Posted by egalecki View Post
When I build my fire, it's in the middle of the floor. Should I be spreading it out after it burns a while and all the initial wood is involved? I always have to add wood after the first stack in order to get the dome to clear. Maybe I need to spread out the coals and spread the second batch of wood more evenly?

I'll have to try doing more retarded proofing. Yesterday's fiasco had a lot to do with loaves ready to go and an oven that probably wasn't.
Elizabeth
Burning the fire in the center is pretty much the norm just, when you are baking bread, when the fire is at the stage of just burning a low flame with most large red coals you will wan to spread them out across the entire cooking surface for probably an hour but at least 30 minutes(we usually wait until they are pretty much just ash if we can)...then you want to clean the floor completely and we usually mop it right away...the ash tends to insulate the floor so the sooner you get it clean after the heat soaks in the better...mopping it early rather than late also give the oven more time to recover....then you just have to bake things or wait until the oven gets to your temperature...remember you can prepare some flatbreads and even pizzas in that early really high temp oven stage...the heat used to cook something in the brick oven is never fully recovered so if you can cook something it will reduce waiting time...retarding and baking directly from the fridge in the beginning will help you understand oven management...
Best
Dutch
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Old 11-01-2008, 09:44 AM
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Default Re: poor bread

It sounds to me as if you're on the right track. My bread sometimes didn't brown properly on the bottom until I started spreading the coals over the floor after pizza.
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Old 11-01-2008, 09:24 PM
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Default Re: poor bread

I find that my floor heats up best from cooking pizza, so even when I am not making pizza, I push the fire to one side and get flames licking across the dome and charging the floor. Then, I spread the coals at the end and let them burn down a bit.
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