DIY Dough Loader

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Introduction: DIY Dough Loader

About: Background in Electrical Engineering, Computer Science, Robotics, and Tangible Interfaces from MIT. Other projects I've worked on can be found at http://projects.kumpf.cc

If you've ever watched a professional baker load dough into a hot oven, you've probably seen a "dough loader." These fairly basic conveyor gadgets are a big help when handling delicate dough and getting it into the oven without deforming or degassing it.

For home bakers, most people transfer dough to the oven either via parchment paper (since it can easily slide around) or with a baker's peel (think pizza making). But when it comes to baking bread, parchment can affect the bottom crust (in addition to feeling a bit wasteful), and using a peel requires quick motions that can deflate the dough if anything sticks (often leading to over-flouring the bottom or relying on cornmeal/semolina to prevent sticking).

There are a few other solutions [1,2,3] out there, but this one is simpler and uses things you probably already have around the house.

To make your own DIY Dough Loader, you'll need:

  • 1 x flat baking sheet (ideally as large as the baking surface in your oven)
  • 1 x lint-free kitchen towel (about as wide as your baking sheet)
  • 1 x wooden rod/dowel (also about as wide as your baking sheet)
  • 1 x long piece of string/twine (ideally something that won't melt if it happens to touch your hot oven)
  • 2 x medium binder clips (to attach the string to the towel+dowel)

Step 1: Prepare Towel + Dowel + String + Clips

Constructing the dough loader is quite straight-forward and doesn't require any specialized materials or skills.

  1. Roll one end of the towel around the wooden rod/dowel.
  2. Make loops at each end of the string and place onto clips.
  3. Clip strings onto towel+dowel as shown.
  4. Place towel assembly on top of the flat baking sheet.

Step 2: Practice Loading Some Dough!

To use the dough loader, place dough on top of the towel and then, while keeping a firm grip on the string (and being mindful of your hand so as to not burn yourself), very carefully position the loader at the back-most edge of the baking surface inside the oven. As you pull the baking sheet toward you, smoothly pull on the string such that the dough is neatly deposited on the hot baking surface (stone/steel/sheet).

Practice makes perfect, and when you have real dough on the line (that may have taken upwards of 36 hours if you're working with sourdough) you want to be confident in your loading abilities.

With the oven off/cool, practice loading a few loaves by using bags of flour. It looks a bit strange, but the weight and positioning are quite similar to real dough and you won't burn yourself trying to figure out the best place to hold your hands and smoothly transfer dough from the loader to the oven.

Once you get the hang of it using the DIY Dough Loader is quite simple. It works great for loading all types of shaped loaves (baguette, boule, bâtard, miche, etc.) as well as pizza (just make sure you place the dough on the loader before you begin adding the sauce and toppings).

As always, be mindful of your hands/knuckles to avoid burns when loading dough into a hot oven!

Happy baking!

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    7 Comments

    0
    Bill Deutermann
    Bill Deutermann

    Question 1 year ago

    With the oven and baking stone at 221°c why does the towel not burn?

    0
    adamkumpf
    adamkumpf

    Answer 1 year ago

    The towel doesn't stay in the oven. It only briefly touches the baking surface as the dough slides in (and the contact point is sliding as you pull on the string, so the part of the towel touching the hot surface is always moving). From my experience, a basic cotton kitchen towel doesn't seem to burn or char at all for such a quick action.

    The towel does get a bit of toasted flour on it after a few loads (due to any residual flour on the baking surface), but I haven't seen anything resembling burn marks. The flour is easy enough to shake/wash out when needed afterwards.

    0
    Bill Deutermann
    Bill Deutermann

    Reply 3 months ago

    I bake boules in a "flour pot" - a large clay planter with an eye bolt handle and the clay saucer to match. The dough loader is superb for accurately placing the dough in the center of the saucer, and the long handle of my peel keeps my hands out of the 500°oven.

    0
    Bill Deutermann
    Bill Deutermann

    Reply 3 months ago

    So I made one using some linen canvas from a drop cloth, a dowel, some string and a peel. I am using it at least once a week- works great, and it is now obvious that the cloth can't suddenly burat into flame. 😁 Many Thanks!

    0
    StephenL81
    StephenL81

    Question 1 year ago

    Very clever. How do you get the pizza onto the towel/baking sheet? I guess you roll out the dough, put it on the towel/baking sheet and then add the sauce and toppings?

    0
    adamkumpf
    adamkumpf

    Answer 1 year ago

    Yeah, that's what I do. Just roll/press/toss the dough into a flat circle, place on the towel/loader, add toppings, and transfer to the oven.

    I find that using this method allows for a thinner crust since there's no additional transfer step and the dough rarely sticks to the lightly-floured towel as it wraps around the edge of the baking sheet when loading.

    0
    Aric Caley
    Aric Caley

    1 year ago on Step 2

    OK wow thats super clever! Now I feel like a dope practicing how to slide a pizza off a peel... :)