How I Cut My Baking Time in Half

challah bake oven loafThere’s a reason bread is traditionally made in loaves. Loaf pans keep the bread from spreading, and slices are even and easy to use in sandwiches. They also save baking time.

A few months ago, I bought two new loaf pans to add to the two I already had. Loaf pans fit easily into the oven. I have two racks for most baking, three for pizza or cookies. I usually make large batches of challah, but in all different sizes: loaf pans, round cake pans, or cookie sheets. But now that I have four loaf pans, I braided the challahs to fit the loaf pans. Two leftover rolls went into a cake pan.

Now I could bake all of my challah (about two kilograms worth of flour–this recipe) in one batch. Baking time was cut to about 25-30 minutes, after the oven was heated up. If I bake two challahs on a flat cooking pan, they’ll stick together. And if even one challah won’t fit in to the oven, the baking time is doubled.

I could be even more efficient if I bought two more loaf pans for a total of six. They would probably pay for themselves in energy savings if I regularly made recipes for the six loaf pans that fit perfectly into my oven.

Paying attention to how your equipment fits into your cooking space saves time and money.

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  1. I wish my oven was big enough to fit more than 4 loaf pans.

  2. Devo, me too, considering all the baking you do. But a smaller oven takes less energy to heat up, so that’s a small comfort. Did you make those vegan rashers with the pinto beans that you posted on Facebook? Were they good? I almost bought some today but I couldn’t remember what else was in them. I’d like to post the recipe.

  3. Devo, What are you making?

  4. That’s a great hint, Hannah. I could fit so many more loaf pans in my oven, if only I would make challah!

  5. I’ve been a fan of bulk baking for a long time. I also do this with chickens. One chicken takes me 50 minutes to roast in the oven. So do three. I keep them all in roasting bags and place the bags in a roasting tin to catch any leaks.

  6. Don’t you find that whatever is on the lower level doesn’t “brown” on top quite as well?

    I still double up when baking, but even with the turbo setting the heat doesn’t seem to be distributed evenly enough.

  7. My oven doesnt cook evenly if I try to put in two shelves worth of things. I need to rotate them midway, and even so, I end up crisping one bottom and crisping the other level’s top.

  8. Debbie and PP: I do set the timer to switch them halfway.

  9. Debbie#1: As miriyummy said, you can apply it to other foods too.

  10. Very true.
    Almost everything I can use two racks in the oven, but my challah lately grows so tall that it got stuck to the top grate!

  11. Aviva_Hadas says

    How many challot do you use at a time? Are you freezing the 3rd + loaves? I quit baking bread I had far more misses than hits. I now buy 6 rolls & freeze the leftovers.

  12. When I make free-form challot, I place a fold of oiled foil between them to stop them sticking to each other. That way I can get two loaves onto each baking sheet.
    I usually bake bread in bulk, using about 24 cups of flour. It takes just as much time to mix and knead a large batch of dough as a smaller one and I can fit three or fours loaf pans on my oven rack, depending on their size. Yes, it does take longer to bake multiple batches, but I like the convenience of being able to pull bread out of the freezer instead of baking so frequently. The nice thing about baking bread is that it is done in small snatches, and you can do other things while the bread is rising or in the oven.

    • Norma, I did that last year too. You inspired me to do it yesterday, and my freezer is completely full now. By the way, I made a mistake in the post. I didn’t double the recipe that I linked to.