Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Bread: Improving a Conventional Oven

Do you wish you had a better oven? Want to make yours more like a brick oven? Put unglazed tiles or a pizza stone on the top and bottom racks of any oven and preheat for more than 20 minutes; bake directly on the bottom stone (cooking parchment makes it easier), and you have a brick oven. This does two things:

1. Thermal mass: The stones/tiles keep the oven temperature more constant despite the cycling of the burners and opening/closing the oven door.

2. Direct contact: Bake the bread directly on the stone, without any baking sheets or pans. This browns the bottom of the loaf nicely, lets moisture out of the bottom crust, and gives it good texture. A sheet of parchment between the bread and stone is virtually the same as baking directly on the stone, and makes it easier to handle the bread. You will need a pizza paddle, or something like one, to get the bread in and out.

Pizza stones work great, but are usually smaller than the oven rack; unglazed tile from a tile store works just as well, and can be selected to fit the oven more exactly, providing more baking area. Be sure to leave about a 2" gap between the tiles and the oven wall for circulation. I keep my round pizza stone on the top rack, and put tiles on the bottom rack to bake on. I use a probe-thermometer to tell me when the bread is done.

No comments:

Post a Comment