Cooking Equipment

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What to Consider When Specifying Deck Ovens

A deck oven is a crucial piece of baking equipment for pizza operations as well as restaurants needing quick baking. While these ovens tend to take up more real estate in a kitchen or bakery and require skilled bakers to operate, a deck oven’s ability to produce many baked products around the clock makes it an invaluable addition to many commercial kitchens.

A distinct difference between deck ovens and convection ovens is the way in which these units transfer the heat to the baking product. Deck ovens use conduction heat, a process in which heat travels directly from a hot stone or deck to the loaf of bread or sheet pan being baked. Deck ovens also utilize radiant heat, a process that incorporates infrared heat waves to penetrate the dough, heating it throughout.

For products such as breads and rolls, the ability to add steam represents a key feature of these ovens. And because deck ovens carry so much mass, these units have great recovery time and hold temperature well.

Foodservice consultant Orlando Espinosa, principal of Orlando Espinosa & Associates, LLC, based in Glen Mills, Pa., shares his insights about factors that operators should consider when purchasing deck ovens.

The amount of daily production, batters, doughs, etc., will be a big determining factor in deck oven size.

If an operation specializes in breads, it requires a stone deck oven with steam injection. The operator can bake other menu items in the unit as well, using steam or no steam.

An important feature of a deck oven is whether it is run by gas or electricity. These two types can be very different. The first notable difference is utility costs. Depending on the region and facility type, it may be cheaper to use electric versus gas or vice versa.

Also, with a gas deck oven, operators are typically limited to one set temperature for the entire oven, even if it has multiple decks. This can cause limitations if there are a variety of products that need baking at different temperatures. With an electric deck oven, operators can manually set different temperatures for each deck, which allows for more control and the ability to bake a variety of different items simultaneously.

In addition, with gas deck ovens, local building codes typically require the use of a hood or a vent in conjunction with the oven. Electric deck ovens are typically exempt from this regulation.