You Can Only Get So Far Without a Brick OvenSep 08, 2012Posted by Forno Bravo
Sometimes you find yourself in a hurry, or in a really busy day, but you still want nice, fresh baked bread. This is particularly true on Fridays. Busy, dinner with the family — those things.
So yesterday I had enough time to mix and shape two baguettes, but not enough time to fire my Strada oven. Or, way it a lack of energy, rather than a lack of time. Hmmm. Either way, I decided to bake my bread in our standard home electric oven. And I tried pretty hard. The baguettes were pretty well developed and shaped; and I pre-heated the oven to 475F, sprayed a water bottle, and lowered the oven to 400F. The entire bake took about 20 minutes for two loaves — 70% hydration and a little less than a pound each.
First, you will notice that out of habit I shaped my loaves to 24″ — longer than my 15″x20″ Pizza Stone, so they dropped over the edge. OK, this is a little silly, and yes, I am capable of shaping a 20″ baguette, but even my Strada60 (our smallest pizza oven) can handle 24″ baguettes.
Beyond that, and much more important, you can see that it is so much easier to bake a really nice loaf of bread in a brick oven. These loaves are a middle brown, without any caramelization, and despite the fact that I correctly scored my loaves, there was very little oven spring and no grigne (or ear) — that nice lip that developed in a steamed brick oven.
I know that there are lots of different techniques for getting steam in a conventional oven and that many home bakers do a really great job of working around the limitations of their electric kitchen oven, but in a brick oven it is just so easy!
Anyway, the bread still tasted nice and everyone was happy on a Friday evening.