BREAD BAKING TIPS - Elusive Oven Shoot or Oven Spring

            Oven shoot or oven spring is elusive. It's part of the craft of bread baking. Look at the picture to the left. It is a good example of oven spring, also known as oven shoot. I put a one cup measuring cup in the picture to give you some perspective on the size of the loaves.  Both loaves have good oven shoot. They are two pound loaves. I made the dough in my bread machines. They were baked for 22 minutes at 375 degrees in my home oven. These loaves are light and make good sandwich bread. My kids love white bread. It's great for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I like white bread for simple Swiss cheese and mustard sandwiches.

            Every once in while you will notice your loaves seem to magically shoot up while baking. Why? It's not magic at all. It's part of the craft which you will only learn with practice. There is an optimum time to put your loaves in the oven. The yeast needs to be in its most active stage to get oven shoot. It has to be on the up swing. If you let your dough sit and rise, you will see it rise vigorously to a point and then the rising slows. The activity of the yeast will increase to a point and then become less active. To get oven shoot you need to bake your loaf when the yeast is on the up swing. You will only learn how to get oven shoot over time. Just being aware of oven shoot or oven spring is a start. Make a mental note the next time one of your loaves turns out like the ones pictured. I found that it helped me to keep a log while learning bread baking. I had a spiral notebook and recorded my bread baking experiments. That's part of the scientific method used in laboratories and in industry.

            I can get oven shoot consistently because I monitor the temperature of my bread baking through out the process. Home bread baking is all about temperature. To make the loaves pictured, I first made a sponge. I took equal parts warm water and flour and some yeast. Mixed them together and let them sit for an hour before adding my sponge to my bread machines. I substituted equal parts water and flour for sponge in my recipe. My dough was really active at the end of my first rise when I put my loaves in the oven. I did not bother with a second rising at all. My loaves were in the oven after a mixing period of about 30 minutes and a first rise of about 30 minutes. Remember it's a craft. There are no absolutes. Think about it. No second rising to get these beautiful loaves and I did not knead by hand. My bread machines did all the work. I just get the credit.

        These loaves are white bread which is not fashionable today. The flour is bread flour. Bread flour is high protein, unbleached and fresh. It's fresh because I buy a commercial product in 50 pound bags. I use olive oil and honey. No milk or eggs. No animal products. When you make your own bread you decide what ingredients to use. Next time you make a loaf compare it with the picture. Learn the basics of bread baking and build your skills from there to become an artisan bread baker. Learn right from the start. There are not short cuts to becoming an artisan baker.

More Tips at the following links:

About Flour

Economics of Home Baking

Temperature and the Craft of Bread Baking

Pizza: Thick Crust vs. Thin Crust

Shaping Hot Dog/Hamburger Buns

Artisan Breads

It's Always the Yeast

Using Enough Yeast?

Buying Yeast

Baking Issues & Stones

Active Dry vs. Instant Yeast

Coloring Your Loaf - Dark Bread

Artisan Sponge Starter

Wholesome Ingredients

Whole Milk Mozzarella for Pizza

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