I haven’t posted in this blog for an eternity - too busy working.
But I spent ten minutes this evening trying to track down something that I had written in a forum about getting around problems with fan ovens. I finally found it, and have pasted it below, (so I can find it again).
I now almost exclusively use the oven to max trick, and think that it gives fantastic results in terms of spring and crusts
I have been trying various options with my fan oven. I think that it causes two main problems
1. it tends to disperse steam
2. it tends to dry and cook the top of the loaf too quickly (this leads to the loaf bursting at the side or base)
I have 2 main ways of dealing with this.
A. Bake in a covered pot. There has been a bit written about this recently. Use a heavy (ovenproof) pot (Le creuset or similar, or cast iron, or terracotta) with tightly fitting lid. Put the pot in the oven when you turn it on. When the oven and pot have had enough time to warm up, take the pot out of the oven (careful!!), and put on a heatproof mat. Transfer your dough onto a peel (I use a flexible plastic board coated with semolina), slash, and again watching out for burns slide the dough into the pot. Put the lid back on, and put in the oven. Take the lid off after ~25-30 mins, to finish the bake uncovered.
B. Turn the oven up as hot as it will go. Wait at least 3/4 hour for the oven to reach its maximum temperature. Put a heavy metal dish in the bottom of the oven to heat up with the oven. Put a kettle on to boil.
When the oven is hot and the water has boiled, (and your dough is ready) turn the oven off.
Slash your dough, slide it into the baking stone and close the door immediately to avoid losing heat.
Using oven gloves, grab the kettle, open the oven door briefly and pour maybe 1/2 cup of water onto the hot baking dish at the bottom of the oven. Close the oven door quickly.
Now chew your fingernails, and wait for 5 maybe 10 minutes. Then turn the oven back on. (I have a little oven thermometer that I put just inside the oven door. The max temperature my oven reaches is >240C. After about 10 minutes it comes down to 190-200.) Half way through the bake open the door and take out the baking dish with any water left in it. (you need to disperse the steam to get a good crust)
One last thing. When you think the bread is ready… Stop! - wait 5 minutes more.
The pot gives the best crust that I have ever made in a home oven. The turning the oven off trick (and all the rest) comes close.
these are some of the loaves baked recently using this trick