Ovens, the heart and soul of the bakery! Today we have many styles and manufacturers to choose from. From small electric deck ovens to large deck and rack ovens and even tunnel ovens, there are a lot of choices for the baker.
Choosing the oven that is right for your needs can be tricky because of the varied choices available. At Artisan Baking Resources we have many years of experience with all of the different styles and models and can help you find the oven that fits your style of baking and capacity.
Rack ovens are one of the most popular ovens in today’s bakery. Often replacing the old carousel ovens in In-Store bakeries and a must have for pan bread and roll production. These ovens are offered by numerous manufacturers and range heavily in quality.
Much of the US rack oven market has been driven by the In-Store bakery because of the sheer volume of sales opportunity. With one chain of stores having thousands of locations and only needing a solution to bake-off frozen dough and pastries the US market was geared towards affordable light duty rack ovens. These light duty ovens are not the choice for bakeries needing a strong oven with good insulation and quick heat recovery. When shopping for a rack oven take time to learn about heat exchangers and steam recovery and if you have a chance please bake in them before deciding.
This is the oven many of us grew up baking on. Carousel Ovens are the dinosaurs of yesteryear. On occasions they are still used by the Italian-American Bakery to bake directly on the steel shelves and provide the typical white Italian Roll with a hearth baked look and crackly crust. They are also at home in the traditional American corner bakery where it is used for every product in the shop. From pies, cakes, cookies, bread and even Thanksgiving Turkeys they are capable of handling about everything in small batches at the same time. This large fuel hungry oven is rapidly being replaced by rack ovens everywhere. There are still a few manufacturers out there for those bakeries with this specific need.
It’s hard to be considered an artisan bakery without a stone hearth deck oven. These ovens became popular in the US when the artisan bread movement took off in the late 1980’s and are the oven of choice for producing European style Hearth baked bread. These ovens come in many shapes and styles and with many different heating options. This style of oven has become very popular with many new manufacturers jumping into the arena with their own version to capitalize on the growing US market. Let’s explore the different styles of deck ovens:
The electric deck oven has become one of the most popular deck ovens in the last 10 years. Previously viewed as too expensive to operate and too fragile to use for production these ovens now have a solid foothold in the American Bakery. From test kitchens to high quality In-Store bakeries and the small corner bakery servicing the retail public these ovens find a home in many situations.
The electric deck oven comes in many widths, typically in 1,2 or 3 sheet pans wide and multiple decks usually 1 to 5 decks high. Each deck can typically be operated independent from the others allowing the baker to turn on or off the decks he chooses. This is where the savings can often be found; instead of heating an entire oven to bake a small batch on slower days the oven can be adjusted to the needed capacity.
The Cyclothermic Deck oven also comes in many shapes and sizes and also with multiple deck options ranging from usually 4 decks up to 10 decks high. Some manufacturers offer both Steam Tube deck ovens and Cyclothermic deck ovens while some manufacturers only offer the Cyclothermic version.
A Cyclothermic oven gets heat to the decks by forcing hot air from the burner through air ducts that run up the sides of the oven and then above and below each deck. This type of oven needs a circulating fan attached to the back of the oven to move hot air. Steam is typically produced by injecting water into large steel tubes that sit in front of the burner and vented into each deck. These types of ovens usually have very good steaming capabilities because of the location of the large tubes near the burner.
The Cyclothermic Deck Oven bakes slightly different than a Steam Tube Deck oven. The Cyclothermic Deck Oven is lighter in weight in comparison to other models and relies on its heat recovery from a robust burner that sends heat continuously to the decks. Typically the Cyclothermic oven needs to preheat the decks to a higher temperature to prepare for the initial demand from the loading of cool dough. This in effect causes some flash heat during the first bake of the day and subsequent bakes after lengthy breaks. The Cyclothermic Oven also needs slightly more recovery time between loads, typically around 6 – 8 minutes, to allow the oven to replenish the heat lost on the previous batch of bread.
Additionally there are many positive attributes of the Cyclothermic oven: since the oven is lighter in comparison to other types of deck ovens the oven’s temperature can reasonably be adjusted to different product needs and also allow for the oven to be moved much easier than a concrete and brick foundation oven.
Steam Tube Deck Ovens are very popular in the USA, France and Italy. Since many US bakers tend to model their baking style on the French and Italians so have we followed their equipment preferences. Steam tube ovens function very differently than the Cyclothermic Ovens from Eastern Europe. The decks receive the heat via tubes that run above, below and on the sides of each deck. The tubes are partially filled with water where in which the water turns to steam when heated to baking temperature. This steam carries the heat to the decks very efficiently since water and steam store more BTU’s than air. Additionally Steam Tube Ovens are typically built with a concrete and firebrick foundation allowing them to store a large amount of energy in the base for quick heat recovery. The thermal mass of the steam tube oven acts like a bank account, storing the heat and releasing it as the water vapor comes back through the bottom of the oven.
Since these ovens are heavy in comparison to Cyclothermic Deck Ovens they are more difficult to move in the event relocation is required and they are slower to adjust the baking temperature for a varied product line. Additionally the steam tube oven typically has a dryer bake resulting in finished loaves that are dustier and less shiny looking. This is because of the hot tubes that line the deck oven ceiling that dry the air more quickly than the smooth ceilings of the Cyclothermic oven.
When shopping for a steam tube oven make sure to evaluate your needs in relation to retail baking or wholesale baking. It is easy to exhaust a retail oven when used for wholesale baking.
Thermal Oil Deck Ovens
Thermal Oil deck ovens are typically the choice of bakeries that have graduated from a steam tube deck oven. This style of oven bakes similar to the steam tube oven but is heated differently. These ovens require the extra purchase of a boiler that heats the hot oil and sends it to the decks from a remote location. Typically the boiler is housed in a separate room somewhere near the baking area. When the deck oven calls for more heat the call is received at the boiler which pumps in the hot oil throughout the ovens piping that encompasses each deck. These ovens have a very quick heat recovery and the boiler is often able to supply several ovens at once. The one main drawback is that this style of oven is so robust