Introduction: DIY Dough Loader
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).
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.
- Roll one end of the towel around the wooden rod/dowel.
- Make loops at each end of the string and place onto clips.
- Clip strings onto towel+dowel as shown.
- 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!
Participated in the
Pizza Speed Challenge 2020