BPA 100: First Day of Class

BPA 100
Day 1, Wednesday

Convection and Deck Ovens

We began BPA 100 in the other kitchen today; one that actually gives us space to work, and that has ovens. This class will be focused on baking and technique, not so much on things like custards or sauces. At the end of each session we will arrange our final products on a sheet tray with the grading rubric for the day. Chef will grade our products and provide us with important feedback; ways to improve, what went wrong and what was right, etc. We must be able to know the uses of the tools in our baking kits, as well as their names. Chef suggested printing out the recipe for each day as when we make adjustments or vary the recipe it is important to note them on the recipe for next time.

The responsibilities of the Steward, Sanitarian, and Demo Assistant are still basically the same for this class; in addition the Steward will retrieve things from the walk in cooler and the storeroom, the Sanitarian will assign roles to classmates for clean up, and the Demo Assistant will set up the ovens. Chef Mangalore explained the differences of working in this kitchen, namely the use of the deck and convection ovens.
The basics of the convection oven: ON/ OFF button with a light indicating when it is on, temperature setting with plus/ minus arrow keys, a timer, a steam button, and a program button. You must be careful when opening the door as a lot of hot air will come out; i.e. the principal of a convection oven: it cooks by air passing over a heat source and blowing around the food. There are air vents on the sides on the interior where this hot air comes out. It is important to have the parchment paper weighted down properly or else it will begin blowing around in the oven, not good for anyone’s products. The timer button will only be used if we are baking something as a class, otherwise each person should use their own timer since products are put in at differing times. The steam button is used when baking bread and the damper/ flue is there to release the hot steam that gets trapped. We don’t use the program button since we don’t have any pre-programmed items set in the oven. The convection generally only takes about 15 minutes to heat up. There are two large arrows that when pressed rotate the rack spindle at the top of the oven; the spindle should be facing you in order to load and clear the oven. To load the oven just push the speed rack into the oven and it will lock in place at the top spindle and the bottom latch. When the oven is on, be sure to listen for the exhaust fan above to be on, there is a fan button if it is not already on. To pull out the rack, be sure to use pot holders and do the reverse. Leave the pot holder or hot towels on the rack so others know it is hot.

The deck oven has four decks and each deck has stone on the bottom, providing direct heat for products. This is good for things such as breads and delicate items such as soufflé and custards that don’t bake as well in a convection oven. There is a master ON/OFF switch at the bottom, with an indicator light for when it is on. The opening to the oven is smaller; this keeps more hot air in and the oven temperature more constant. There is a temperature dial with an indicator light letting you know that the oven is not fully preheated. The black meter on the gage is the actual temperature of the oven. There is a red button for the steam chamber, when pressed it releases a pretty strong steam. When the steam cycle is finished a red light turns on alerting you to this. The steam makes a nice shine on your baguettes and other breads. There are three heat dials. One where the heat comes from the top and bottom near the oven door, serving as an air curtain keeping the hot air in; another is the top heating coil, good for cookies where you want a golden brown color on top but not good for custards or cakes that you don’t want to brown too quickly; and the third is the heat on the bottom. It is a good idea to write down the setting for each recipe. The damper release knob is for steam release. These kinds of ovens take a long time to heat up, up to 2 hours, because of the stone shelf on the bottom of each deck. It is the responsibility of the demo assistant to make sure the ovens are at the temperature we need for the day’s baking. The speed racks are kept next to the oven for easy loading and unloading. On the other side of the oven are grid racks that lay on top of the stone, creating an air gap between the sheet tray and the stone. This keeps the bottoms of cookies from burning.

The retarder/ proofer is used as a cooler or as a bread proofing chamber. There is a dial at the top for each mode, with an indicator light for each. The proof mode heats the chamber to 80 degrees F; the temperature is shown digitally at the top.

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