Baking with a fan oven


I am planning on starting making sourdough bread, after reading through various guides and recipes I have thought of a possible issue: my oven is an electric fan oven. I don't know if that in itself will cause problems but many recipes advise throwing a cup of water in the bottom of the oven before cooking. As my oven is a fan oven won't this water just come straight out of the vents or doesnt this matter?

Also, what cooking temperatures would you advise, the recipe I am intending on doing suggests 240 C for the whole cooking period, this seems a bit hotter than many other recipes suggest.

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farinam's picture
farinam 2012 December 10

Hello louis.tate,

As I understand it, fan force ovens are no more vented that radiant ovens.  Certainly the air is drawn into and expelled from  a cavity surrounding the oven but no more is vented other than what might escape form the door seals as is the case with radiant ovens.  Gas ovens on the other hand are a different kettle of fish.

Generally you can lower the temperature by about 20C when using fan force and cooking times are often a bit shorter due to better heat transfer.  Some ovens have a lower temperature limit on fan force.

Your best bet will be to experiment.  Start with the 20C temperature reduction and if it gets too brown for your liking next time use a lower temp and vice versa.  Similarly with cooking times, try cutting 5-10 minutes and see what happens.  If you are using a 'cloche' method for your bread, you will probably have to stick with the recommended times and temperatures.

Hope this helps.  Let us know how you go.


davo 2012 December 10

I use a fan forced electric oven, and I get better results than I do out of a very basic electric (non-forced), or a reasonably fancy gas oven that the current electric oven replaced.

Pretty sure that fanforced just push the air around rather than vent it through - there is certainly far less heat coming out than the old gas oven I had.

I start at 240 with the fan on, and bake (large loaves - they start about 910-940g each) for about 20 mins before turning down to around 200 for about a further 30 mins. Then I judge the crust - if it needs to be darker I crank it up at the end, if not I might leave it in with the oven turned off for about 5 more mins to dry out/harden the crust a bit.

I reckon people get gas ovens wrong, fretting about all the moisture being lost because of the throughflow of air (necessary because you have to clear the combustion gas). Gas fired oven air is naturally moist as a result of H2O production in the combustion (CH4 + 2O2 = CO2 + guess what: 2H2O). Oven companies advertise this as beneficial for meat roasting ("your roast won't dry out"). My experience is that this can help the initial rise (moist air stream) but it can be tougher getting the desired degree of crust darkness in a gas oven, because a gas oven air stream will never be dry while the gas is burning. The moisture can be managed out of a commercial oven, but isn't in domestic ovens.

Because elec ovens are pretty much sealed, and don't produce moisture, you have much more control - moist when you want it (by putting in some water in a tray, or one the floor, or ice) and dry when you want. I don't believe the fan makes any moistrure difference at all, just evens out the heat distribution - although as noted this may bring up the effective temp around the bread, rather than leave it at the top of the oven.

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