Browning and fan forced ovens

celia's picture

I learnt something yesterday.  I've always baked my breads in a fan forced oven.  They cook very quickly, 20 - 25mins at 220C.  They go a nice golden brown, cook through completely, and really go pop in the oven.  Sometimes, however, I can't get the tops of the loaves to brown evenly - some bits are still quite white while the others are very brown.  Also, I couldn't get slashing to work properly - I kept getting loaves (particularly round ones) that would blow their tops.  I've been jealous of all the lovely photos here of decoratively slashed loaves !

Yesterday, I think I made some progress in solving these problems.  I let my shaped loaves rise longer (hence reducing the huge oven spring, and allowing for a more controlled rise), and I changed from the fan forced setting to the bake setting on my oven.  The downside, of course, is that I can really only bake one rack at a time that way, since the bake function uses the top and bottom elements, whereas the fan forced uses the back elements.  The other thing I did was I extended the baking time.  The loaves were obviously cooked after 20 mins at 220C, but I turned the heat down a little and gave them an extra 10 minutes (something I think Dan Lepard suggests).  They were very brown and very crusty - quite a "traditional sourdough" result - and the crust is still hard today.

Do you like your loaves very brown and crusty or golden and tender ?  I've noticed a lot of the professional bakers produce loaves that I'd consider almost overcooked, and that many aren't averse to a bit of black on the outside of their loaves !

Cheers, Celia

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TeckPoh's picture
TeckPoh 2008 April 22
I like to bake my breads till it's fully brown, down to the slashed parts. What size breads are you talking about, Celia? For breads around 500g, I bake @220°C fan-force for the first 15 minutes of bread-watching, then when the spring show is over, I lower the temperature to 190°C normal bake for another 30 minutes. For bigger breads, this is extended by another 15 minutes.

For breads which I sell, my starting temperature is 200°C...people here prefer tender crusts.

Danubian's picture
Danubian 2008 April 22
Celia, every oven is different, but if your oven allows perhaps you can use both the fan - convection heat - and the elements - radiant heat - to get a better bake. Never the less using the fan may necessitate turning your loaf around to even out the heat distribution on your bread. Domestic oven design can limit their ability to distribute heat evenly.  

Keep the temp a little lower but bake longer to get some drying of the crust if you want that type of finish on the crust.  

I like a deeper colour and dryer crust on some of my bread, and on others, a thin tender crust. It really depends on the characteristics of the product I wish to make. 
celia's picture
celia 2008 April 23

Thanks for the advice TP and Boris !  I'm continuing to experiment.  I think I like the softer crust for every day breads..


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