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reliable ovens for medium-high volume bakery?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Hi,

 

We are primarily a cupcake bakery, our new location opened about 6 weeks ago in downtown Chicago. We have been using 4 UNOX combi ovens but have had nothing but issues. Despite multiple service calls and even replacing two of the four ovens, we are having too many problems with baking and misc gas issues and are looking to replace all 4 units entirely.

 

The UNOX models are great in that they are programmable (touch screens on each unit) so my overnight bakers pretty much just have to hit the program and it will preheat to the right temp and set a timer etc. Very user friendly. Ideally I would like to find something similar to this, just more reliable for baking. 

 

I've been looking at Blodgett, Lang, South Bend, Rational...but would love more input from anyone who has used anything similar. We're really trying to get something a little more advanced than the standard convection Blodgetts. I have used rationals but not for cupcake baking and it's a fairly costly investment. Cost isn't a dealbreaker as long as it's the best oven for the job.

 

Any and all input appreciated!

post #2 of 11
In terms of actual baking quality for cup cakes, a deck oven will outperform most convection ovens. The better decks are programable, but you will pay for this function.

Personally I would go with plain-jane deck ovens. Figure out what your ideal setting is, and then leave it there. You can put the ovens on timers, so they fire up at a certain time, and more importantly, issue each baker with a "crucifix", a cheap electronic timer they wear around their neck.

Don't get me wrong, I love Rational ovens, but for only baking cupcakes, its kinda like driving a Rolls Royce to Costco. Where the Rationals really shine, and where they really pay off, is with high volume catering. Blodgetts are fine, but keep in mind the fan only blows in one direction, and with gas, the heat is generated from the bottom of the oven. This means you will have to turn the pans around atbleast once during the bake, and every time you open those doors, you are blasting out all the hot air
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #3 of 11

I have Blodgett convections and they are horrible with cupcakes.  I bake ours in the oven under the range; the back left has a really bad hot spot  but I'd rather lose a few cupcakes than have them come up looking like they do when they're done in the convection.  Admittedly, not all of our cupcake  recipes come out badly in the convection (the oil based cake batters do just fine, like spice, pumpkin, carrot;  but the butter based ones, not so much).  Don't get the convection for your cupcakes.

post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 
Our other locations use older Blodgett convections. They rotate pans halfway through for every batch and have reasonably consistent results. The reason we spent so much money on the Unox was to eliminate the step of rotating pans, which was successful. I was under the impression that the functionality of the Rationals was similar to that of Unox. In addition to cupcakes we do use the ovens for creme brulée, cheesecakes, etc, so the functions like steam and multiple fan speeds were really great for those.

We have plenty of kitchen timers. That isn't an issue. Just trying to find the best oven for our production needs, regardless of whether it's a little excessive in features or not.
post #5 of 11

Like I said, for cupcakes a deck oven would be the best choice.  I've done about 5 yrs  of cheesecakes-both in waterbaths and out of waterbaths in a deck, and it is my oven of choice, and lord knows how many crème brules and crème caramels I've done in a plain-jane  Garland type gas-oven-under-the-grill, in waterbaths.  The steam function in a Rational is great for creme brules, etc. but if your main focus is cupcakes, get the deck.

 

What I don't like about the convections are the following:

 

-Unable to have separate top and bottom heat zones

-Fan rotates only one direction (other than Rational and other convections that are over 10 grand)

-Big-azz doors that spew out heat every time you open them

Other than that, they are great, and are indispensable for catering or general cooking

 

If you have a small kitchen, you will really feel the heat every time you open those doors to rotate the tray, and in the summer, it's downright nasty.

 

But really, the best oven is a deck for most pastry baking.  Breads do very well in convections though.    And while you can get a Rational oven, it won't outperform a good deck for most pastry baking.  Doesn't matter  if money isn't a concern, use the money to get other goodies/gadgets.

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 

We already spent over 10k on each oven, so that doesn't really matter. If we went with deck ovens large enough to accommodate our current oven capacity, we would end up spending double.

 

Teally just looking for a recommendation on reliable gas convection ovens. We're looking for ovens that we will not need to rotate pans. The Unox have fans that alternate directions to achieve this. Essentially looking for the exact same features, just a different brand. 

post #7 of 11

So....Have you ever baked with a deck oven?

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 
yes.....what's your point? I'm not seeing much if anything on the market that can accommodate our capacity without costing double the existing ovens...

If that's not true then by all means, show me otherwise...
post #9 of 11
I get your frustration. Four ovens @5 pans ea. means serious volume. So the question is, what is a high volume bakery doing with restaurant/catering equipment? And why four of the same, and not two or even one larger unit? Its kind of like a tour operator putting 16 tourists in 4 cars @4ea. instead of one bus @ 16. Next thing, gas. Gas convections have more "stuff"--ignition devices, thermo couplers, manifolds, and the burners themselves are prone to burning and plugging. They (gas convections) will always require more maintainence than electrics. So why gas? I have a bad feeling it was cheaper than upgrading the electrical on the property to accommodate electric ovens. This puts a serious limit on your oven choices What you need to do is find a bakery equipment dealer, NOT A RESTAURANT eqpt. dealer. I think I see a restaurant dealer's hoofprints all over your kitchen install. The bakery guy will give you options. Like a rack convection, where you can wheel in a loaded tray trolley into tne oven, and the whole thing rotates on a turntable, or trade ins on decks or other ovens. Buying used from bakery dealers is a lot less risky than restaurant dealers, and the bakery guys usually back up what they sell. Hope this helps...
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 
Try four ovens at 12 dozen each. We don't have the space for a roll in rack oven, yes I have used them before and they are great, but not for our specific needs. We have multiple specialty batters and they ALL bake at different temperatures and fan speeds. We can accommodate gas or electric hookups. Money isn't really an issue, and wasn't in any part of our kitchen buildout. I appreciate that you know what you're talking about but you aren't answering my question.
post #11 of 11

About 15 years ago I looked into Doyon brand ovens; I had heard about it from a woman who baked cakes from her home (licensed kitchen).  It was convection (with optional steam) and the big selling point was a reversible fan.  None of the equipment dealers here in the Boston area had ever sold this brand, and none of the repair places I spoke to had ever worked on them, so I abandoned the idea.


But it might work for you.  Here's a link to the company: http://www.doyon.qc.ca/html/en/products/bakery_ovens/jet_air_plus/ja5p2618-2.php

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