Professional bakers PLEASE respond about oven advice.

LeCakeDecember 13, 2012

I make wedding cakes. DF or AG and what brands. I will use all 3 racks every time and they will be full, up to 14 pans at times. I need even baking and moist cakes!!! I am going nuts with this decision, I have spent well over 20 hours researching this and just when I make up my mind I get... I bake with my convection, I don't bake with my convection, will be too high of a heat. AG is best for baking for moist air, then AG is not good for baking because of hot spots and starts out as moist heat and changes to dry. I get it that you could probably utilize and figure out an oven, but, if I am going to spend 10 to 13 grand you better have figured out how to bake a cake to perfection in your oven and where are these details from their sites and reps!!!!! Thank you

This post was edited by LeCake on Sat, Dec 15, 12 at 17:25

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I am not a pro baker but then again I don't know how many professional bakers we have on Appliance Forum.

You have a home based business making wedding cakes and you are considering AG or DF ranges? Either the nicer 48" ranges or the less expensive 60" ranges?

I think the ideal oven situation for you would be two 36" electric wall ovens installed side by side or at least not stacked.If you have space for such a configuration. Ideally,you don't want to hunch and bend down for a living.

Two Wolf L Series SO36US. I think that is the best combination of maxiumum capacity,maximum heat evenness, and quality construction. That is about $10k.

Then you can figure out a rangetop/cooktop based on your stovetop needs not your baking needs.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2012 at 6:43AM
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Robin you left out a key piece of information. You also told me you want to bake in a 16 inch pan. That will not fit in many residential electric convection ovens.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2012 at 7:27AM
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Depending on the cost of obtaining commercial) 208v 3 phase power in your area or some possible workaround for using 240 volts, you might consider pizza ovens. Anna Olson an accomplished pastry chef, has a cooking show on and has a modern TV studio setup that mimics her original home based catering and bakeshop business that expanded by using surplus kitchen equipment from a high school where she taught.
Here is a link to several episodes that let you see the setup (in the left background).

Here is a link that might be useful: Pizza ovens for general baking

    Bookmark   December 13, 2012 at 9:27AM
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I was puzzled at first by wekick's comment, then realized that 16" is just about the depth of my electric wall oven (Electrolux 27"). I *think* it will take 16" but haven't tried. I tried to put a cookie sheet about 17" long in depthwise and I couldn't close the door. So 16" may fit, but it will be tight. The OP will have to measure carefully to make sure her pans will fit. A range would accomodate big pans better than a wall oven.


    Bookmark   December 13, 2012 at 10:36AM
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No way will a residential oven work for you. You need something much larger!

    Bookmark   December 13, 2012 at 11:19AM
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Wolf L Series SO36US INTERIOR oven dimensions are

30" Wide
19" Deep
13.25 High

Unlike commercial ovens can be placed in wood cabinet in a residential kitchen.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2012 at 12:23PM
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You have to measure the rack, although Wolf is listed 19 inched the usable depth is 15.5 on my oven. The convection fan takes away part of the space, as does the door. The usable depth on my Electrolux is 15 inches. I would want to leave a little room for circulation besides that. If you make that many cakes of that size, I would consider commercial ovens. They would also have the ability to adjust the amount of convection I think or there may be ovens specifically for cakes of that size.

Any oven will be a learning process.

Try asking on this forum--all about cakes and they may have specific ovens that they like.

Here is a link that might be useful: CakeCentral

    Bookmark   December 13, 2012 at 1:40PM
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Commericial ovens put commercial heat into the kitchen which requires commercial ventiallatin if you don't want to work in a sweat shop.

What are the local noise ordinances vis-a-vis a commercial blower?

What are the local building and fire codes vis-a-vis commercial ovens?

What are the insurance implications for your fire/homeowners insurance?

Will you get tagged with build a commercial bakery in an area zoned for residential use?

    Bookmark   December 13, 2012 at 1:51PM
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Another consideration is to rent commercial space by the hour. We have people do that here all the time. They rent from a restaurant/bakery on off hours. You might find an oven you like that way. Yes, there are many considerations bringing commercial equipment into your house. Some do this in the basement or some other location--not their home kitchen. There are many of the same considerations just having a business in your home, wedding cakes or whatever.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2012 at 3:02PM
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Once upon a time I babysat for a lady who had a baking biz making cookies and muffins for local coffee shops. She had a separate kitchen set up in her basement for this work, and had commercial equipment including oven. In my jurisdiction, you have to have commercial equipment for commercial cooking - the Health Dept will shut you down if you try to sell out of a residential kitchen.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2012 at 3:12PM
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I have the 30" Wolf L doubles (DO30US) with a listed interior depth of 19". I can fit a pan just over 16", but that's the limit. I assume that the SO36US would be similar, but do not know.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2012 at 9:36PM
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I was a professional baker for almost 15 years of my life. I started baking at a small bakery in Plymouth, MI before getting hired as production manager at Zingerman's Bakehouse in Ann Arbor, MI.

I have baked pastries and cakes in all types of commercial ovens. The only thing I can tell you for sure is that every bakery that I know of uses convection. Most use gas because it is much cheaper to operate a gas oven 24/7 than it is to operate electric. Moist air vs. dry air argument is nonsense.

Ask yourself if this will become a real business? Or is this just a hobby.
If you actually plan on making this into a real business, then buy a surplus commercial oven and put it in your garage. No residential oven will be able to do what needs to be done to bake enough cakes to actually make money.

If this is just a hobby then I would go electric. I have a DCS electric wall oven in my own house. I still bake a lot, but I have not been a professional baker in almost 10 years.

All types of commercial ovens can be had for very cheap on the secondary market.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2012 at 10:11PM
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Visited locall Wolf Dealer today.

Looked at the 36" Wolf wall oven.

Racks measure 15.5"

From fan to door was 16.5".

    Bookmark   December 14, 2012 at 4:41AM
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I have a relative that also makes specialty cakes in her home. Here in MI we have a MI Cottage Food Law which allows you to sell up to $15,000 per year on homemade food from your home without a kitchen inspection or license (there are labeling requirements).

    Bookmark   December 14, 2012 at 8:54AM
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Posted by ribs1
I have baked pastries and cakes in all types of commercial ovens. The only thing I can tell you for sure is that every bakery that I know of uses convection. Most use gas because it is much cheaper to operate a gas oven 24/7 than it is to operate electric. Moist air vs. dry air argument is nonsense.

My BIL and his family owned a family bakery. His dad was from Austria and while they used convection for pastries and cookies, it was never used for cakes. In reading baking textbooks/baking forums,the use of convection for cakes does seem to have some issues. It accelerates the heat transfer to the outside of what you are baking which can cause an uneven rise. You can adjust for this somewhat by decreasing the temperature. Also the size of what you are baking may make a difference. Convection is also drying so is not beneficial the first part of the baking cycle before the rise is completed. Convection in home ovens can vary tremendously. Some ovens have a convection bake cycle that lowers the fan speed but some fans will actually blow the batter to the point of the cake being misshapen.

You can use convection for cakes and it will bake, but it is not the most optimum condition for the first part of baking. I think that baking commercially though is very different than home baking. My sister is a very accomplished home baker and she and her husband often disagree about how things should be done. I think many commercial bakeries develop their recipes to accommodate convection or whatever heat they use. Most recipes for home cooks were developed for conventional ovens.

I don't know much about commercial ovens/baking but with home ovens there is a difference between gas and electric as far as how much moisture is in the oven. This due to the way they are ventilated. The increased moisture in an electric oven keeps the surface of cake pliable longer and allows for a longer rise. This really becomes an issue with bread baking. Many bakers add steam to the oven and it is much more difficult to keep that added moisture in a gas oven.

Posted by deeageaux
Visited locall Wolf Dealer today.
Looked at the 36" Wolf wall oven.
Racks measure 15.5"
From fan to door was 16.5".

This is the same depth as the DF range. I have a 16 inch pan my sister just gave me from the bakery and it is just shy of fitting. There is a rim on the back of the rack keeping it from touching the fan but it touches the door and it won't quite close. Even if it would close this would not allow enough space for air circulation, critical for even baking of a cake.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2012 at 12:44PM
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I understand your concerns.
1. I am only talking about commercial ovens since the OP asked about professional baking. Commercial ovens are vented differently. I baked professionally for many years at a high end bakery. We used convection gas ovens to bake all of our cakes. I have also worked with many other professional bakers and rubbed elbows with many bakery owners. What it comes down to is gas is much cheaper to operate and convection bakes about 20% faster. Recipes are not adjusted but oven temps and times are.
2. I would also like to comment on steam used for baking bread. Here we are talking about a much different animal. Steam in the bread oven basically makes the crust shiny and or think. That hard crust chewy crust you see on great artisan bread comes from the steam. We are not talking about moist air here we are talking about 100% saturation in the oven. Usually the bread is only left in the steam for the first 4-5 minutes then the dampers are opened and the bread is left to bake the rest of the time in a dry oven. Real stone hearth bread ovens are entirely different from what we are talking about.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2012 at 10:44PM
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If someone is actually interested in operating a baking business and expecting to actually turn a profit then a real commercial oven is necessary. The good news is that these can be had for very cheap on the secondary market. The bad news is that you can't put one in your home kitchen. Outside or in the garage will work.

Professional bakers do not worry about gas vs. electric. This is what they worry about.
1. Even heating. Rotating trays, cake pans etc up and down the racks is time consuming.
2. Efficiency. Real professional bakeries almost never turn their ovens off. At Zingerman's we baked 24 hours a day every day. Electric ovens cost about 3 times more than natural gas ovens to operate. Even if you start small, your oven will be on 8-12 hours per day.

Almost all serious professional bakeries bake with convection gas.

In my own house I have a bluestar 36" gas range. I also have a DCS electric wall oven. When it comes to baking here are the differences that I see.
1. DCS comes up to temp faster.
2. DCS seems to maintain even temperature better when measured with an oven thermometer.
3. DCS bakes more evenly requiring less rotating.
4. I notice no difference resulting from dry air vs. wet air. The only difference is that I have to watch things in the bluestar more because of less accurate temp and rotate items more because of less even heat.

I can produce identical product in either oven. I just have to watch more closely in the bluestar. I would not attribute this to gas vs electric. I would attribute this to better thermostat in the dcs and better insulation.

Professional bakers don't really worry about these things. During the holiday season when things get really busy we have baked cakes in the bread ovens and we have baked bread in the pastry ovens. We adapted and produced consistent product. We even had an old beat up pizza oven just for overflow. These things are really nothing more than boxes that get hot.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2012 at 11:04PM
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One more thing.
Get the convection no matter what. You can always turn the convection fan off if you want.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2012 at 11:06PM
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LeCake--did we scare you away with all the help?

    Bookmark   December 14, 2012 at 11:35PM
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Lol breezygirl! No, I have been busy BAKING! I live in a state where I am legally allowed to have an in home baking business in my kitchen with sales of just under $20,000. In my state we fall under what are called cottage laws, which vary state to state. Since I work alone I am limited to the number of orders per week, it is not like I am making 10 wedding cakes a week! With a new 36" oven I should be able to bake the average size wedding cake with one round of baking and possibly 2 rounds which takes me twice to 3 times that now in my average joe 30" electric oven. Thank you wekick for adding that I need to put a 16" pan in the oven. I have been thinking that I can keep the oven I have now as a second to put a 16 or 18 inch pan and not concern myself with the headache of having to find an oven like the wolf df366 that cannot hold a pan that size ( but it should for that price ), the wolf ag 36" does hold a 16" pan, go figure. I am thinking the wolf df 36" is for me but really would like to know if the baking will be even, I hate moving pans around for many reasons. Also, I am considering the American medallion df, it has only one fan, any thoughts on the one fan vs less blowing air with convection. I am just learning about all this stuff and buying the right range is so important to me so I have the best product. I posted a picture of one of my wedding cakes. Maybe I will post a couple cakes with different posts. Fondant is my speciality and I take my work VERY seriously.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2012 at 5:22PM
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Beautiful cake.

If you aren't really doing high volume and committed to a residential oven, I would go with electric. Most residential electric ovens in my experience bake more evenly. Are you building a new kitchen? Or just replacing a range in an existing space?
If building new I would suggest dual wall ovens. As I said before I have a 36" bluestar gas range and a dcs electric wall oven. I like using the wall oven better because It is mounted higher than the range oven. This is nice because I don't have to bend over quite as far and it's also nice to be able to look into my oven at close to eye level.

I have not used a wolf oven or range but I have read many positive comments here about wolf ovens.

Don't forget that if you don't like convection you can always turn it off.
My DCS wall ovens bakes very evenly. I don't rotate anything for the most part.
Might not work for you as it is 30". Sounds like you need a 36"

    Bookmark   December 15, 2012 at 10:52PM
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I am not a professional but would look at blue star. It has the largest cavity and you can get French doors - like a pizza oven. Ovens 30 and larger can bake a full sheet cake!

I thought of switching but stayed with the Wolf - what type of mixer do you use?

ribs - are you still in A2 at zings? Our running group did the tour de zings run(it is an unofficial run) to raise $$ for adopt a families yesterday. So we ran from the deli to bakery/creamery/coffee and onward to the roadhouse and back to the deli.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2012 at 8:25PM
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I left Zingermans about 10 years ago. I started at the Bakehouse shortly after they opened in 1993 and worked until about 2002.

Great place to work (as far as the food business goes).
By far the best bakery in the midwest and one of the best in the country.

Right now I'm crazy for the new Zingermans coffee. It really sucks that it costs 20 bucks a pound but I have to pay because it is that good.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2012 at 8:37PM
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Thank you ribs & gemini! Now I am thinking 36" dual fuel wolf or american and now maybe adding a wall oven to satisfy extra oven plus being able to use a 16" pan if I go df366 wolf. The American rack is about 18" by 26" I think. Sure wish I could get feedback on the American Medallion, only been out a couple years, though American has been commercial for 40 years I think. Ribs, can you put a full baking sheet in your blue ( 18" by 26" )? We are building new and I am going to ask everyone if I can add a wall oven, I am sure this will drive them nuts! Building for the first time is major trial and error. Gemini, I use 2 Kitchenaid 6 qt. mixers, but I will be adding a larger 20+ qt. mixer.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 12:30AM
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LeCake, Your cakes are works of art. I think the Wolf DF does bake very evenly but when I have it full of the same thing, it is more likely to be quiches and not something with a higher sugar content which may be more sensitive. In our area and many other areas, there are places that have Wolf appliances up and running. I wonder if your sales person would know about that. You could go there and try it out for yourself. It might be worth it to see how the oven is. It might be a ways to drive but we drove over 250 miles to look at a Bluestar when we were buying our appliances. Most people will tell you that service is one of the strong points of Wolf appliances.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 1:15AM
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LeCake- thanks! You are so talented- if you are near us- might want one of those beautiful cakes!
I just put in a wall oven and love not having to crawl under the range to access.
My friend who is a semi pro baker convinced me to go with the wall oven concept. I think a double wall oven(or 2 singles- which I like better cause if one fails- I can replace just that unit.) would be great for you.
Just out of curiosity- why wolf vs BS? I never tried the BS but was impressed with its cavity and French doors.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 7:44AM
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LeCake, I am compelled to compliment you on that gorgeous cake. It is too pretty to eat! I have a Wolf 30-inch DF range, and have loved baking in it for nearly 8 years. While my size oven isn't relevant (because you require the larger sized Wolf), my baking experience is. I love to make layer cakes -- 6 layer cakes. I always bake using convection, and I never rotate the pans or move them, other than to put them in the oven and remove them. They emerge, perfectly uniform in color and baking height. Obviously, it's my job to ensure the pans have all been equally filled, to ensure consistent results. I bake my 6-layer cakes on all 3 racks in the oven. The Wolf's two convection fans alternate spinning. They turn on and off throughout the baking process. I'm aghast at the thought that some ovens' fans spin so hard they blow out the batter. Not the case with the Wolf. My cakes are perfectly baked, and I must say that all my baking -- cakes, cookies and pies -- is the best it's ever been in the Wolf DF range.

It was a huge decision for me to invest so much money in the SZ fridge and the Wolf DF range when I remodeled back in 2005, but it was the BEST decision I could have made. If I were to move, I'd purchase, without hesitation, another SZ fridge and a Wolf DF range.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 3:16PM
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Wow Beth, thanks for the info! Gives me comfort to know this. Wekick, I have asked about trying out the oven or even seeing a demonstration still waiting to hear back on that. Gemini, I don't think the wall oven will work in my kitchen and I have received more positive feed back on the wolf overall but more so when it comes to service and repair response. Thank you all for the nice comments on my cake.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2012 at 6:13PM
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Yes, you can use a full size baking sheet in the bluestar.

When I was a baker, one of my coworkers decided to move. He had a 20qt hobart at his house that he wanted to sell. he offered it to me for $300. I still can't believe I didn't buy it.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2012 at 10:36AM
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With your talents - anything will work! Can't wait to see what pops out of your new oven!!!

    Bookmark   December 28, 2012 at 9:22PM
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