temperature, the salt melts and fills the microscopic cracks and indentations in the surface of the
steel. After cooling, the excess salt is brushed away and the hotplate is coated with a thin smear of
cooking oil. It should not be washed in water but scraped or wiped clean and re-oiled after use.
A well-designed bakery oven should have the following characteristics:
• It should be constructed from materials that can withstand intense heat without cracking or
• It should be well insulated so that it is economical in fuel use and loses little heat.
• The difference in temperature between the top and bottom of the oven should be constant
without hot or cold spots.
• It should be possible to produce extra ‘top’ or ‘flash’ heat when required, and to inject either
steam or water if products with a glazed crust are required.
• It should have easy access for products to be loaded/unloaded without causing burns to
operators, and for maintenance and repairs.
There are two types of ovens: direct heating ovens that are heated by burning gas or solid fuels in the
baking chamber; and indirect heating ovens that have a separate heater or firebox. Directly heated
solid fuel ovens are used by many artisan and small-scale bakers as well as pizza ovens in
restaurants, hotels and other food service outlets. They are low-cost, but risk contamination of
products by smoke and ash. For example, the ‘beehive’ oven is a simple brick or stone structure, with
one opening for the door that may also serve as the flue, or it may have a separate flue (Figure 6).
Some designs have hollow brick walls that are filled with a mixture of broken glass, sand and/or salt
for insulation. Fuel is burned on the stone hearth for 6-12 hours, often overnight, and the embers
are raked out before baking begins. There should be sufficient heat retained in the top of the oven
(or ‘crown’) and the oven walls to enable baking throughout the day
Figure 6: Beehive oven (Courtesy of Forno Bravo at www.fornobravo.com)
A common design of direct fuel-fired oven has a firebox built into one wall and a flue that is fitted
with a damper to control the intensity of the draught through the fire. In operation, a low fire is
burned overnight to heat the whole structure to a high temperature, and in the morning the fire is re-
kindled to a high heat. The crown becomes intensely hot and this heat is then released during the
day’s baking. Bakers who use these ovens may bake a succession of products that require
progressively lower baking temperatures as the oven cools during the day (e.g. in Table 2: starting
with bread at 230oC, followed by buns at 210oC and ending with fruit cake at 177 oC).
Puff pastry (egg washed and unfilled)
Plain fermented buns
Choux pastry (éclairs, cream buns)
French and Vienna breads