A New Year, a New Life

Over the New Year holidays, I moved to the San Juan Islands. It has been a two year journey for me from an abusive situation, a divorce and now starting over.It is the reason my store was closed down and I have not been as available as I once was. Throughout my journey, I found that there are many resources and people who reach out a helping hand to those in need, I am very grateful to those that were supportive and encouraging.

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I have some new challenges in my present location. One being a defective convection oven that took two hours to reach 350F!! Convection ovens do not seem to have a bottom element. How do those of you with a convection oven bake decent bread? You need good bottom heat for bread. I baked up some sourdough biscuits and the tops were nicely browned but the bottoms stayed white no matter what I did.

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The solution that I have come up with so far,  is to put the baking stone on the very top rack of the oven, right next to the element and put “convection broil” on for an hour, that not only turns on the fan to distribute the heat around the stone, but turns on both elements which are at the top of the oven.

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I was able to super heat the stone, then move it down in the oven, place a roasting lid over the dough to protect it from the overhead element (which I had changed to “convection bake”) and I got some really nice bread:

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Autumn Porch Sourdough

Autumn Porch Sourdough

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The cut loaf was underproofed, you can tell by the direction of the holes, the tight look to the loaf and the cracked domed top. I waited an additional half hour to bake the second loaf and it came out great. The baking time was less in a convection oven, even with the roasting pan over the dough. I baked it 20 minutes with the lid and two more minutes with the lid removed. I was afraid to take the pan off sooner because the top of the bread had a chance of burning, since the element overhead was on.

Autumn Porch Sourdough closeup

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I baked up some Autumn Porch Sourdough for this experiment in baking with a defective convection oven. The outdoor temperatures here on the islands has been perfect for Autumn Porch bread because you put your preferment outside overnight in temps that are around 50F degrees. I put my dough into a covered dough folding container and placed it in the trunk of my car. If there is anything I enjoy besides baking, it is being resourceful!! The raccoons outside were dismayed at my new dough retarder.

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I have one more interesting thing to tell you. Those of you who have followed my blog for years, know that I have always wanted a brick/masonry oven to bake bread in. Looky what I found in the basement of my new home:

 

 

 

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The brick fireplace is meant to heat the whole house. There are some supports inside that allow me to fit a shelf and baking stone on. I need to set it up and test it, but you can bet I will do just that.  Any of you with knowledge of masonry oven baking , feel free to email me or comment with suggestions/hints/tips on baking in a brick bread oven.

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The inside is not domed for bread baking, but I will give it a try anyway….. stay tuned….

11 Responses to 'A New Year, a New Life'

  1. Leigh Anne says:

    I’ve followed you for years now, maybe commenting a few times before. Though I’m sorry to hear about what led up to your need of a new situation, I am glad you had the support and courage to get to this point. God bless you!

  2. I wish you every happiness in your new home! You made the convection oven work for you, yay! And the brick oven, now how cool is that?

  3. kollin says:

    A New Year, a New Book.
    Wish you many new ideas, and I hope it get published this time :)

  4. northwestsourdough says:

    Thank you for the well wishes everyone, I will post on my fun with the brick oven/stove.

  5. Old Possum says:

    Hmmm, convection ovens should have an element both top and bottom. Perhaps your oven needs a service. My oven has the bottom element enclosed in the oven base, not a visible element so it may be that the bottom element is not working, particularly given the time it took to preheat. Good luck with it!

  6. Sunny says:

    Hi Teresa,

    Kudos for getting yourself out of a hot situation and smack into a cold convection oven! You’ve figured out one problem, I’m sure the second will be a piece of cake, or sourdough, as the case may be.. :)

    Your new home looks like a most beautiful place. Please tell us about it and post lots more pics!

    Best Wishes for the New Life,
    Sunny, A New Friend

  7. Toni Colvin says:

    Hi Teresa,
    Good luck in your new situation & am so happy you’re out of the bad one!
    How amazing…when one door closes another one opens… into a brick oven!
    You might contact Frankie G at FGpizza.com for brick oven baking advice. He & his family (emphasis on family) run a great business & they’re very nice people.
    Good luck & I’ll look forward to seeing more pictures.
    Toni

  8. codruta says:

    Hi Teresa. Have a great new beginning and a wonderful new life!
    How cool is your oven! Good luck with it, I’ll look forward to see your next bakes.
    codruta

  9. w says:

    Hi Teresa,
    Sorry to hear about the trying circumstances but glad to know you’ve surmounted them, and what a happy discovery of that brick oven! I would be thrilled in your place, and i’m sure you’ll be regaling us with tales of what you get up to. I’ve dipped into your blog here and there, and recently tried your extended autolyse bread. I don’t know if it’s that, or the fact that i pushed fermentation further than i used to, but the bread was great, really set a new standard for me. So this is overdue thanks. I also tried your chocolate cinnamon rye bread, and i was amazed by the flavour and crumb (just want to point out a minor typo in the recipe: it should be 8.5g of cocoa and cinnamon, not 85g! i mean, it’s obvious but oh well). May i just ask – i’ve seen references here and on TFL to your book or a downloadable PDF, and you seem to have another blog??, but these have apparently been discontinued?? Could you just clear the air on this?
    otherwise, thanks once again, and all the best in your new life :)

  10. Angela Lynn says:

    You are not starting over, you are continuing on :) I too left a bad situation after 34 years ~ you are now living in one of the most beautiful places on earth! That oven looks like it has SO much potential, just like you :) keep doing what is in your heart and may God bless you richly as you seek His face.

  11. northwestsourdough says:

    Hi Angela, It is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen, however, I have not traveled much on this earth. Thank you for the well wishes. I am happy you also are an escapee. Take care and enjoy the sunrises in your life.

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