The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Michigan Hearth Room

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SpartanArtisanWantabe's picture
SpartanArtisanW...

Michigan Hearth Room

I am planning to add a hearth room to the back of the house with an indoor Alan Scott style oven. I have studied this quite a bit but still have lots of quesions, and am looking for some feedback/advice from those who have travelled this road. I've been baking for about 15 years in my home oven and make 6-8 loaves a week for friends. These days I am making almost entirely wild yeast leaven breads and feel like I could sell or give away as much as I can make. A few of the big questions I have are...

1.) How big? I am planing to build the 42 x 48 inch artisan oven as I think I can bake approximately 15 boules at at time. Is this too big?

2.) Is there anyone out there in the West Michigan area that has built an A.S. oven that I can visit and check out?

3.) For those of you that have built an Alan Scott oven, do you have any tips or suggestions for things that you would do differently? That is, do you have any lessons learned that you can pass on to save me time, costs or effort, or ensure that the oven is a success and that I can get it permitted and my consturction approved?

arlo's picture
arlo

Morning,

If you are in the area, I recommend getting in touch with Stone Circle Bakehouse. They are a wood-fired bakery located in the Holt area. Pretty nice product comes from Stone Circle, and the fellow, Kevin, is pretty passionate about baking. I lived in Lansing/East Lansing for a while, but I did not know of anyone with a personal WFO at the time.

The bakery I am managing at in Ypsi uses an Alan Scott oven that has been rebuilt once now. Sadly, I wasn't there for the construction years ago, or the revamping last year. If you are ever in the area, I am baking nearly every day here and wouldn't mind showing you the oven. Just ask for Arlo!

Also, the Forno Bravo boards have some great info on wood-fired baking as well, and here on TFL there are many advocates and fellow bakers with WFO in their homes.

A little bit of info that I hope you can find some use from :)

polo's picture
polo

I constructed and bake in a 32" X 38" Alan Scott oven. the oven was built with plans purchased from OvenCrafter's website. I can bake multiple 24# loads of dough after a firing (12 - 2# Batards in each load). Unfortunately, while my roots are in Western Michigan (Muskegon area), my home is now in NE Ohio.

There are many modifications that can be made to the designs to increase efficiency and ease of construction. My first and best advice would be to join the "Brick Oven" group on Yahoo. Most of the members there are very willing to offer advice and give of their experience.

If I can be of any help myself, feel free to message me through TFL.

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Also, check the blog here on TFL by ClimbHi.  He lives in the Pittsburgh area and built a small WFO at his home.  It won't line up exactly with what you are thinking about but will probably give you food for thought.

Paul

SpartanArtisanWantabe's picture
SpartanArtisanW...

Polo that is good information and the kind of thing that I was looking for. if I scale it up to the area of a 42 x 48 I think it comes out to about almost 20 loaves. So it sounds like I could bake 35-40 lbs of dough in the oven I am considering. To others that may not be a lot but to me that sounds like quite a bit. Thanks for the info.

polo's picture
polo

35 to 40 lbs. sounds like plenty to me. Especially if you consider that you will be able to bake three times that after fully heat soaking your oven. Obviously, when you get into mixing that much dough, you may run into other limitations. Mine is still small enough that I can handle hand mixing the dough.

The beauty of building an oven like this is that it will afford you ample opportunity to spend more money on support items.  Gotta keep that economy rolling.

SpartanArtisanWantabe's picture
SpartanArtisanW...

Uh... yea I'm thinking that I might need to leave a corner cupboard for a commercial mixer. Obviously there has to be room for some tools and peels as well. All sounds a bit much at the moment and leads to another question. What items are must haves in a wood fired oven kitchen baking 20-40 loaves at a time that I may have to leave room for? I shape all my loaves and to date haven't used any forms.

SpartanArtisanWantabe's picture
SpartanArtisanW...

Following up on the posted info. Interesting posts by climbhi and canukjim, signed up for the yahoo group. I'm sure I'll have many more questions, but off to a great start. Unfortunately I'm getting a late start to work reading about bread again!

ClimbHi's picture
ClimbHi

Building an indoor WFO will require some thought concerning ventilation. You'll move a LOT of combustion air to fire this, so plan accordingly or risk some interesting (i.e., potentially very bad) side effects. Such as creating a downdraft in your other chimneys in the house if you have any, or reverse venting any gas appliances you may have. You might want to build in a dampered outside combustion air inlet that you can control as needed. Also figure in air conditioning or extra ventilation to cool the room during summer use and make sure you maintain positive pressure in the room or you'll pull smoke down your chimney when the AC runs.

I'm just sayin' . . . .

That said, the oven you're planning seems plenty big. My oven is smaller, about 2 ft. X 3 ft. and I can bake about 6 lbs. of bread per load. My oven uses about two big armloads of dry hardwood to fire. Larger ovens will obviously take more. The total amount of fuel depends on the thickness of your masonry as well as the size of the hearth. An oven the size you're contemplating may take up to 3 or 4 times this amount of wood to fire. If you don't have a lot of free/cheap wood available, you might find this an important consideration. Every once in a while I'd like more oven space, but for me, it isn't worth the extra wood that it would require all those times I don't need the room.

Have fun!

ClimbHi
Pittsburgh, PA

firetech's picture
firetech

I'm just east of Lansing and have 48x60 in progress. It's not an Allen Scott oven but a design from one of his direct students. We also are placing our oven inside a building for a small commercial unit. Stone Circle is about 35 mins from here. Kevin is very busy this time of year,call ahead to see his place. He also has a couple of clips on y-tube,