Achieving an efficient bake starts with matching the oven with the appropriate application. By understanding what the product needs in the oven, bakers can choose the correct heat transfer method, burners, air velocity and use of steam if necessary. However, sometimes the most effective way to achieve the final bake results desired goes beyond using just one style of baking.

“The most efficient ovens are constructed so that the optimal proportions of radiant, convection and conduction are applied to the products at the correct period during the baking cycle,” said Shawn Moye, vice-president, sales, Reading Bakery Systems. “By doing this we can ensure that we produce the highest quality products. For example, convection baking is the most efficient method of removing moisture from products but an all-convection oven may not produce the most desirable product characteristics.”

For many years, it was commonly believed that the best crackers were produced with direct-gas-fired ribbon burner ovens. Now, according to Mr. Moye, the best cracker ovens are a combination of direct-fired zones and convection baking zones. “The convection zones offer greater energy efficiency by regulating the burner temperatures and blower speeds to complete the baking, drying and coloring of the crackers,” he explained.

Radiant heat coming from burners above and below in a direct gas-fired oven can be useful in situations where humidity levels need to be high, according to Brett Cutler, applications sales engineer, Baker Perkins, but add a little convective air turbulence and the baking efficiency improves. On the other hand, some products need radiant heat to deliver non-uniform coloration on the surface. For those kinds of products, Baker Perkins offers the EM Recirc or HiCirc ovens that combine convection and radiant heat. “The ratio of convective to radiant heat is infinitely variable, allowing the optimum balance between baking efficiency and product appearance to be achieved,” he said.