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Baker Better Bread: Baking in the Rofco

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Successfully baking bread in the Rofco oven

Baking for yourself

It’s quite a shock when you start baking bread for yourself. Justifying a bread oven when you’re not sure how your business will go, is hard. But you soon get very fed up with a domestic oven even using a baking stone  as the temperatures are never high enough nor are they consistent and the flabby crusts will inflame you. What next? Will a Rofco oven be the best solution?

If you’d like to try the Rofco before you buy, spend a day with me on one of my tailored bread making courses.

The well equipped bakery where I trained

Just one part of the well equipped bakery where I trained with deck oven

Rofco bread oven

The Rofco oven has the same footprint as a washing machine, but is a little taller

Deck ovens

When I was learning to bake in France, it was all too easy to take for granted the equipment we used daily. There were four large deck ovens. Each had three tiers with a “tapis” (a rolling carpet contraption). Here we placed our breads and in particular baguettes to load them in the oven. It was all to easy, at first, to load them incorrectly and end up with bread exactly where you did not want it not be.

Our tutors, at first, switched on the ovens for us to preheat at least 1.5 hours before we need to use them. When had more skills under our belt, we were supposed to set the timer to turn them on at the right time. After forgetting to do so once, you tried very, very hard not to do it again.

The beauty of these ovens is the solid stone ‘floor’. This keeps the heat constant and even. If we wanted steam it was the matter of pressing a button and counting a few seconds. Of course all baking would be like this, wouldn’t it? Crusts perfectly formed and bread baked beautifully

How much power do you need?

Unless you are incredibly lucky, your premises will not have three-phase power. This is what most deck ovens require to function. Three phase power can be prohibitively expensive to install. Again another reason to be hesitant before an expensive purchase. Luckily the Rofco oven does not need three phase power.

I visited a few micro bakers and discovered many had a Rofco oven. If you opt for the largest model it is the size of the average washing machine, although a little taller. You have three shelves on which to bake, each with a stone enabling you to bake up to 12 loaves at a time depending on size.

The Brook Foods test kitchen

The Brook Foods test kitchen with the Rofco B40

Brook Foods are the distributor for this oven. I set off to Somerset to find out more about the Rofco in a workshop lead by Adam Pagor of Season Etc. He runs 3 Rofcos in tandem. This was a great opportunity to see how the oven working but more importantly to get tips and ask questions. We also had the opportunity to take our own bread to be baked in the oven. I was convinced and decided to purchase.

Some time later with our trusty small trailer in tow we set off to get the Rofco. The “stones” were gently placed in the back of the car – boy were they heavy and the rest in the trailer. With a bit of muscle power it was easy to get the oven installed.

Baking in the Rofco oven – the essential guide

Croissants in the Rofco. You can open the oven without fear of temperature dropping

Croissants in the Rofco. You can open the oven without fear of the temperature dropping

Whatever oven you have used before, you have to get used to baking in the Rofco oven and finding what works for you.  Here I share tips from myself and fellow bakers: Adam Pagor of Season Etc, Nigel Brown of the Green Bakery; Nick from the One Mile Bakery, Cardiff; Sarah Raisbeck; Patrick of Indigo Bakes; Maja Herman; Philippe le Toquin of the Long Slow Bakery, Dan Sumpton; Cynthia Kinihan of Pawling Bread Company

We are all very fond of our baking in our Rofcos, but they do have a few quirks!

Stopping bottom shelf hot spots

There are three ‘stones’ which are actually pure chamotte or refractory brick. The bottom stone sits directly on the element which leads to hot spots and uneven heating .

This is a design quirk that is easy to fix. Hopefully Rofco will address this in newer models. We’ve remedied this in various ways:

Patrick has raised the bottom stone by about 1 cm; Maria has placed some metal rods just higher than the elements, Dan has used metal nuts and Adam Pagor suggested using coins. We have placed some metal brackets on their side that are just higher than the elements as you can see in the photo below*.

We added a metal bracket on its side to raise the stone above the element.

We added a metal bracket on its side to raise the stone above the element in the Rofoc oven

Power Required

The power rating on the Rofco B40 is 16 amp. The instructions say that you should hard wire the oven into a dedicated 16 amp supply. Most domestic plugs in the UK are fused at 13 amp. We have hard wired in our Rofco as you would a domestic oven through a 13 amp fuse. This has run satisfactorily to date*.

Steam Pods or Garden Sprayer

You can purchase steam pods that sit on the shelves or use a garden sprayer. Most of us use a garden sprayer. Patrick uses pods on the door side and prefers this to using a sprayer. Nigel did purchase some and was pleased with the results, but found they take up a lot of space. He is now achieving good results with a garden sprayer.  Maja’s tip is to be careful not to spray the light as it breaks easily! (Spares can be found at B&Q)

Pizzas in the Rofco oven

Pizzas bake beautifully in the Rofco oven

Oven stands

You can purchase stands from Brook Foods. Nigel has purchased a bespoke made stand that raises the oven up to make it easier to fill and provides additional storage underneath.

Trays and peels

The metal trays supplied with the oven are prone to rusting. Oil them regularly.

Several of us have plywood boards that have been cut to the width of the oven and slightly deeper. Place bake-o-glide (silicon sheets) on the trays and the bread on top, it is then easy to get the bread it to the oven in one action. You can then place the plywood easily under the silicon to get the bread back out. Nigel swears by a metal peel as does Nick. Others have had custom made trays made, for example for foccacia.

Pre-heating

We all pre-heat for at least 1.5 hours.

Heat Retention

Baking multiple batches of bread is easy in the Rofco as it retains heat so well. No need to wait between batches. I always plan to use the oven for other items before and after baking the bread. It also cooks roasts to perfection!

Important Temperature Guide for the Rofco

Whereas there is much agreement on the above points, how we bake bread in the Rofco oven is somewhat different. A good oven thermometer is a must. I discovered that the temperature in my oven is about 20 degrees hotter than the dial indicates. Whilst the dial suggests you can bake at 300 degrees, the higher the temperature the more variable the results. Two vents are located on the front of the oven, these can be opened to release steam. You should also check the temperature of each shelf and adjust accordingly. Thanks to Philippe for highlighting this. It’s important if you want your breads all to be the same colour!

I asked the bakers to share how they bake a large loaf typically 750 to 900gr unbaked weight.

Where temperature 2 and 3 are shown, this is what the temperature is turned down to after heating or a period of baking. Opening vents improves the crust. The table shows when the vents are opened out of total baking time.

Pre heat temp °CBaking TimeTemp 2 °CTimeTemp 3 °CTimeVents open afterSteam
Baker 1240162102020 minutesPods used
Baker 22800190252505-10 minutes25 minutesBefore, on loading, after 3 minutes
Baker 323030-35After loading
Baker 423024-30After loading
Baker 528002204025030 minutesOn loading
Baker 625002303715 minutesPods used
Baker 72303525 minutesBefore, on loading
Baker 8240162102020 minutesOn loading

Find out more

Brook Foods are the distributor for the Rofco range of ovens in the UK. If you attend a course with me, you will receive a discount code.  Attendees at Rofco demonstration workshops receive a discount off purchase of a Rofco. Pleasant Hill sell the Rofco in the USA.

*I would always advise asking a fully qualified electrician to wire your oven in. I am passing on tips used by bakers but cannot guarantee that they are suitable for you.

Choosing a Rofco bread oven for baking bread

Choosing a Rofco bread oven

Discover my series on baking better bread

Bake Better Bread: Pre ferment – Pâte fermentée

Bake Better Bread: Baker’s Percentages

Bake better bread: Fresh Yeast

Bake Better Bread: Temperature

Bake Better Bread: Autolyse

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4 Comments

  • Reply
    Bake Better Bread: Using heat and steam - Severn Bites
    28/05/2019 at 12:27

    […] Baker Better Bread: Baking in the Rofco […]

  • Reply
    Bake better bread: Fresh Yeast - Severn Bites
    28/05/2019 at 14:03

    […] Baker Better Bread: Baking in the Rofco […]

  • Reply
    David
    01/08/2019 at 21:43

    Great article. I think many homes that already have an electric cooker will have it wired into a 30amp circuit so you electrician could do same for your Rocco.

    • Reply
      breadbakerdanielle
      06/08/2019 at 09:43

      Thanks David.

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