The New Bakers Dozen
Looking for advice on a commercial bread oven

The The Bakers Dozen: Looking for advice on a commercial bread oven
By Stuntbaker (Stuntbaker) on Saturday, April 02, 2005 - 07:23 pm: Edit

I'm getting damn close to opening the bakeshop I've always dreamed of down here in Key West, FL and I'm starting to think equipment. Everything I do is limited by my shoestring budget so all my equipment is used (auctions, closing sales, etc.) and I've got most of what I need excepting a good oven for breads. I managed to snatch up a double stack blodgett convection for $90 at a silent auction that I was the only one attending (kid in a candy store doesn't come close to describing it) and I plan to do quite a bit of bread in there, however, I've got room in my layout and in my albeit tight budget for another oven that's purpose would be to give me a different style of bread than can be achieved using a standard convection. Does anyone suggest looking at used combis? Is a large conventional useful to expand the styles of bread you can produce? Or perhaps I should be looking at deck ovens (pizza style). Any thoughts or comments appreciated.

By Foodpump (Foodpump) on Sunday, April 03, 2005 - 02:58 pm: Edit

See if you can retrofit the Blodgetts with a "squirt gun". Basically this is a jet of water aimed at the squirelcage fan, the water mist evaportes and you have steam, which will give you a crust on breads. You can also get 12"x 12" UNGLAZED quarrystone tiles to fit in the oven for a decent "hearthbaked" bread.

Combis are nice, expensive, but nice. Used ones-full tray size- might run at $5,000 but like all equipment beware, the warranty has run out... Thermostats, rheostats, and computerized panelboards are expensive and have to be airfreighted from Germany. They're great ovens for hotels and the like because they're very multi purpose, but your money would be better spent on a deck oven.
Deck ovens are great for hearthbaked breads, but make sure they have a stone bed and a minimum of 8" crowns for pullman loaves. You'll also need a steam generator for those, which could run up to $3,000 per deck. With decks you can have different top and bottom settings which is what you need for variety baked goods
Have you got the amperage for another oven? Can you manipulate, say change your hotwater heaters to gas and get gas convection ovens to give you the juice for a deck oven? Figure on 30 amps, 3 phase per deck, with maybe another 15 amps for the steam generator. If you have a 600 V service you've got it made, and most bakery equipment places can re-wire the ovens for 600 V, the draw is much lower than on 220 V .

Don't go near Pizza ovens, crowns are too low, only bottom heat and crappy thermostats that only function well above 400 F.

Carousel style or rotating ovens are good for volume work, but you can't get steam in them, and it takes forever to heat up or cool down, and there's no real deck for "hearth baked" products.

Check re-glazing plants for good prices on used pans and trays, they usually have good stuff lying around for reasonable prices.

By Stuntbaker (Stuntbaker) on Sunday, April 03, 2005 - 08:03 pm: Edit

Thanks pump.Great info. The Blodgetts I got are gas and this space is a blank canvas in the sense that there's no hot water at all yet and the electric will be up to me as well. I'm not sure what the electric is now (I know there's no 3-phase involved) but I'll be putting in what my equipment demands.
Sounds like (as I expected) Combis may be a little too much for me at least in year one. I'm planning to use the blodgetts for some bread, all breakfast items and desserts (big wedding cake town) so I figured the morning crunch may be eased a little by having more oven capacity for bread and the chance to get a different type of bread from a different type of oven seemed sensible to take. I grew up hosing water into convections to get the steam in there (hell on the oven but we made bread like you read about) and I've never seen an aftermarket water jet fitted convection oven before. Sounds cool. I may have to look into that.
Deck ovens with an 8" crown, eh? Is the "crown" the inside height of the oven or something less obvious? This sounds probably the way to go for me although the ones I've seen fit only two sheetpans are there ones with better capacity I should be thinking of? Thanks again!

By Foodpump (Foodpump) on Monday, April 04, 2005 - 09:38 am: Edit

Yup, that's exactly what a crown is, oven height. Deck ovens come in all sizes, some are very deep and can take up to 6 18 x 26 pans per deck. The best place to find used Decks are at Bakery eqpt. specialists. Every major city has one or two, and if you buy eqpt though them, they'll usually give you a 90 day warranty on used.

Both Blodgett and Baker's pride make convection ovens with the water injection--a factory option. They work well, but since they don't produce steam but rely on the oven to convert water to steam, they do tend to cool down the oven somewhat. The gas ovens recover much faster than the electric ones.

If you're negotiating a lease with the landlord, now's the perfect time to get your power requirements. In this case the bigger the service the better, but you'll need a minimium of a 200 amp 3 phase service, and a 1 lb. gas line. How is building heating achieved? Is there a/c? If so how much does it draw? Does City hall require you to install a grease trap? Remember this is infrastructure/ leasehold improvements, and you can't take it with you when the lease expires. Between now and opening, you'll find out what your landlord is really like...

By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Thursday, April 07, 2005 - 10:48 pm: Edit

8" crown is good.
gas oven, not electric.
and even a stack pizza oven can be "another type of oven" for different breads.
I would throw ice into the oven, next to and in-between the pans, and not use a "spray of water"
water lowers the air temp too much for breads.
Ice hits the hot surface and turns into steam and thats what your looking for.
you can controle the amount of steam by how much ice you throw. after a while its easy to regulate, and works well with regulating the color of the bread by opening the door just a tat, at the coloring stage of the baking bread.
A thick piece of plate steel on top of the bottom piece of steel in the oven helps prevent warping and helps keep a good temp in the oven.
1/4" to 1/2" hot rolled.
It's cheaper than blued or cold rolled and does the same job.
every once in a while you do need to take it out and clean the "rust residue" from between the two plates, but it's worth it.
Also, if your buying a used oven of any type you should ask if they have had the insides panels off and in what condition the insulation is in.
This "falls" in stack ovens and you end up using more gas to keep the temp up.
If the oven has been used a lot it may be worth it to replace the insulation, steam will destroy the insulation in an oven faster than high temps will.
my 0.02 cents

By Chef_Blair (Chef_Blair) on Saturday, November 19, 2005 - 11:29 pm: Edit

We picked up a gas fired Middleby-Marshall oven once for a song and a dance. It was a seven shelf "side-winder" Each shelf held a sheet pan. It had a steam manifold pipe but we had no boiler.

Neatest part was it took up so little floor space and gave you the quality of bake that you would expect from a big shelf rotary oven

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