Bread Oven Problems
I have had a great couple of days baking, really, really good. The pressure has gone from trying to do things on a deadline, my motivation is just to get to know my recipes.
I’ve been able to get them to work properly, like they used too. Without the distraction of thinking what’s going to happen or explaining what I’m doing.
It feels good.
I’m just concentrating on the recipe without distractions, and I’ve been getting amazing results. Well I say amazing, I still don’t have an oven, so I’m kind of practising by putting them in my little microwave oven.
And believe it or not I actually made ciabatta that turned out really really nice in it. What I did was pre- heated it with a tray inside, just like a baking stone and once hot, I dropped the ciabatta on top of it.
The little bit of heat from the tray just did enough to give a jump, or oven spring as we call it.
When it comes to the other doughs that I’ve been making, I’ve pretty much just been practicing the dough and sometimes chucking them in the oven, just to bake it off.
I know that the breads will come out much better if they were in a proper oven. But hey, the results have turned out at least edible.
Jayden, my son has really enjoyed some of them. I mean opened a couple of bits for toast and despite not being the finished article, far from it, they aren't bad!
And then it comes to the oven problem, this I really need to resolve. I can’t see another way of being continuing with the process at least efficiently without purchasing an oven.
No I spent a few hours the other night on eBay checking out the deals, unfortunately I don’t have any money at all, and a lot of them include a long travel away, plus for the oven I want, I have no knowledge of brands, so I’m not sure which one will be any good!
Then thought about leasing the equipment, I spent a little bit time going through lease hire websites, and found the minimum threshold for a lease agreement is £1000, and I don’t really want to spend that much.
I could buy a full-blown deck oven for about a thousand pounds, that’s how much I sold my one for.
But then, whilst checking out equipment websites featuring ovens for commercial use. I discovered a website a company that deals with equipment and leases and, you can lease for £500 minimum. I like this idea.
I’ve given them my details and they left me an answer machine message this morning. I was a little bit busy today, I’ll give them a return call first thing tomorrow.
Oven Challenges, I Might Have The solution...
So the past few days I’ve been relatively quiet on the baking front. I made some finger rolls for my frankfurters the other day.
Again using the microwave oven, they did turn out a bit like tiger bread rolls as I had to turn them to bake both the top and the bottom. The oven only heats at the top- more of a grill with a fan!
But it was a good practice bake anyway.
If you’ve been following my story in depth, you’ll know I had a genius plan to resolve the oven issue. Instead of purchasing an oven, the plan was to lease one. This unfortunately has come to blows.
As a new business with no trading history and no collateral, I cannot get a lease. The response was just a point blank, “No. Not happening.”
Things like this happen in business, there’s always a challenge, something unexpected always comes up.
From my previous experience, I know that there will be a solution, there always is. It’s just a case of preserving for long enough to discover it.
The simplest solution is to buy one. It needs to be a reasonably decent one, so I may have to juggle a bit of money around, depending on how much is required to get one suitable for my needs.
To get a cheap, poor oven will be doing my bread an injustice.
Yes, I will be able to teach baking. Yes, I will get reasonable results, but I need more than that. I need to inspire people to bake as well. The breads must look amazing.
So my options are;
-To get either a personal loan or credit card
-A business loan (or another finance solution such as Kickstarter) based on my business plan
Well, I need to complete my business plan anyway. I wrote a book about creating one and, well, I had best follow my own example! I have a contact who can look at it and give me some challenge on it.
I’ll use him to get it right, then if I can’t get funding, then….
Maybe I’ll go down the personal route, or maybe I’ll find another route to resolve the missing cash flow… Not sure what that could be, as yet. But I’ll find it.
How To Get A Bakers Oven
Finally, I have an oven in the back of my car!
For those of you that have been following my other blog posts, you'll know I have been trying to sort the lack of oven situation out for ages now.
I've tried borrowing friends, using a previous clients chicken shop in the day, borrowing the one at work, baking in a frying pan and as a last resort doing test bakes and simply throwing the dough away.
But now, I have my own oven. It’s sat in the back of the car whilst I dictate this post with the voice input keyboard on my phone.
It's absolutely massive.
It only just fit in the car!
When I first set eyes on it an hour ago, my first thought was that baguettes won’t be an issue!
Now there is one slight problem, let’s be honest when starting up a business, there always is, most definitely when I do something. This tiny problem is that there is no plug on the oven.
A small problem, but that’s not where it ends. Unfortunately when collecting it the seller told me that it believe's it was a 15 amp fuse that goes on, but isn't sure.
We cannot locate a model number, make or any of the specifications anywhere on it.
Now my electrical knowledge ends at being able to wire a plug. So it looks like I’m going to have to get a bit help somehow to install it. Further cost probably, which is a pain as I really can not afford it. But if it's the right tool for the job...
I'm going to have to find a way.
For starters, I'll see if I can work out how to do it myself...
Wiring An Oven
There are periods in my life where everything seems to change. Old friends disappear, new relationships start, work mates you haven’t spoken to in years come close again…It's a never ending cycle.
But these are just outputs, what’s really going on is a new change, a new energy or new ambition that we focus on which starts the fresh direction.
I’m sure everybody goes through periods like this, when starting a new job, breaking into a new friendship group, moving house or perhaps finding a new partner, life becomes exciting.
In periods like this I often wake up each morning feeling like the world is waiting for you wake. For me to take the stage.
Of course my ego's not that big that I believe this is true, but you get what I mean.
It doesn’t always happen. You don’t always feel like this but when you do, when things all click together, you want to keep it that way.
This is how I felt this week, I’m so happy to be alive, there isn’t enough time in the day. What I’ve wanted is literally lying waiting to be had.
Not just a metaphor, it is now on a table in my flat.
The oven is ready!
The thing that my life has been missing for months is sat there, almost ready to go.
The past week or two has not been without its challenges!
First, I had to go and collect the oven, a cool 200 mile trip through the English countryside.
Then I had to remember to get help to move it out of the car into my flat.
Thirdly, how I was going to reorganise my flat in order to make the oven (which is a bit of a monster) fit.
This is whist functioning normal day-to-day life around it (and works been a bitch!).
As I explained to India, it’s all about sacrifice is.
We cannot have it all.
I can’t have holidays, out for dinner or expensive days out whilst focusing on bread baking and repaying my debt.
It doesn’t work. But today that’s not important. I’m excited about baking again.
If you’re happy doing something, and that something excites you, and can give you future career, it’s probably something you should pursue, Which is what I felt about baking throughout my life.
Now with an oven, my baking motivation is supercharged!
I decided to have a go at wiring the oven, but then I got real. I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know how to change the amp rating of the circuit. I thought, “just change the fuse?”
So I started, whilst doing so, one of the screws from the connection thing (sorry don’t know the name) dropped into a crack behind the wall.
I searched, but it was lost for good.
After spending a couple of hours booming around Worthing to visit all of the DIY shops to find a replacement, I realised the enormity of the task.
Am I using the right cables? Is the socket actually live? Am I going to electrocute myself? Do I actually know enough to do this without blowing up myself, or the oven?
So I thought best to get an expert, considering I don’t have any equipment, even a decent screwdriver.
So contacted an old relation of mine to come round in the morning and with some luck, I’ll be baking by the afternoon.
What Bread Should I Bake In My New Oven?
It’s time to get round to baking in my new oven. I’ve bought, picked it up and now it’s been installed by a professional.
But which dough to bake first?
How best to fulfil my skills and the ovens ability is a hard question to resolve.
But one I’ve been trying to answer this week.
Finally the oven is here and installed. I appreciate it’s not that “wow” for many of you that are following me, but it is very exciting for me (and a little daunting too!).
What am I going to bake first?
My first thought was… a frozen pizza.
...I know! That’s a crap idea, hardly romantic, nor inspiring. The previous oven I was using was so shit I wasn’t even worth turning on sometimes.
The frozen pizza idea, was more of a statement of freedom than a new path for my life.
So I should choose something more bread based to bake first!
But what bread shall I bake?
What dough is going to be foolproof, low effort and cheap in case it goes wrong whilst being fairly speedy to do?
*** Cos I wanna get this bread in the oven now!
I mentioned before that I’ve become a bit nervous about doing it now, I feel I’m holding back. The quicker I just get on, get comfortable with the oven and even baking daily again, the better.
In fact delaying the first bake is making me nervous, unconfident and anxious. It’s not good to feel like this, so I best ditch the going out and buying fresh yeast dream.
I’m gonna have to just cope with dried, I mean what can go wrong? It’s about time I learnt how to use it as a replacement for the fresh stuff.
The first recipe
The first recipe I’m going to make for the course is a farmhouse white loaf. After several months of being able to rattle it over, I decided that it should not be the perfect farmhouse.
The loaf should taste great, but let’s teach the basic principles of artisan baking in the first recipe.
The following lessons can evolve the techniques and even revisit the loaf later to make a proper artisan farmhouse or I could share my speedy farmhouse tin recipe that I used to sell to many local cafes in my town a few years ago.
The speedy recipe was a perfect entry level to artisan bread as it was quick and therefore cheap to make but was still made with natural artisan baking ingredients.
I used to sell loads of them. But I’m making a loaf that’s slightly different from this, it’s a simple dough and doesn’t not feature in any of my previous recipes!
I don’t have a simple “straight” dough recipe!
I’ve never needed one I suppose.
So this calls for a new recipe, one that I’m going to have to create. I could borrow (pinch/steal or whatever you want to call it) someone else’s, but that wouldn’t be mine.
How I plan to create my first recipe
I shall tweak a recipe I used before by removing the extra ingredients and changing the mix times.
These changes will give a more “pure” loaf, it’s going to just be made from flour, water, salt and yeast…. like a baker's first loaf should.
The dough is also going to be mixed for a longer period than I normally would. This is to allow the dough to properly develop.
A trainee baker needs to know the rules before they break (manipulate) them.
I best teach what a developed dough looks like at the beginning before I complicate matters.
Written by Gareth
"I'm sharing my love of artisan bread baking with others"