If we wish to bake our bread at 220° C, preheat the oven to 230-240°C.
When we open the oven door, load the cold dough and add steam to the oven, the temperature of the oven will fall by 10-20°C. If we only preheat the oven to the temperature we wish to bake at, say 220°C, the oven will be below temperature for the first 10 mins or so (as the oven heats back up again).
It is more efficient to preheat the oven to 230-240°C, load the dough, add water for steam, close the door and then turn the thermostat down to 220°C.
For bread rolls and buns, drop the oven temperature by 10-15°C.
To achieve a good firm crust on the base of our loaves and to help with oven spring it can be useful to use a baking stone/tile in our oven. The preheated stone/tile will provide what is known as bottom heat. This source of heat directly below the dough can help with achieving good volume in our bread. Energy is also transferred into the bread through conduction, like in our Alan Scott oven.
A good source of bottom heat is also beneficial when baking off high hydration dough or dough that is very well proved. The direct source of heat beneath the dough sears it. This inhibits the dough from spreading out too much in the oven before the gases expand and creates good volume in the finished loaf.
It’s important to make sure that the baking stone/tile is saturated with heat whilst preheating the oven. Otherwise a cold stone can be detrimental to the bake causing the dough to stick to the stone/tile, allowing the dough to spread prior to rising and leaving a soft bottom on the loaf.