The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Muddy February Baking

  • Pin It
breadnerd's picture
breadnerd

Muddy February Baking

I made a half-serious resolution to bake in the outdoor oven at least once a month, and after a few weeks with subzero temperatures, and a weekend out of town, this was my last chance for February. We had a warm up all week, but it was only about 20 degrees at 8 am when I started the fire. We have a pretty good view of the oven from the house, so I was able to load it up with fuel and keep an eye on it from inside, so it's not too bad! The only problem was the warm temps created a very muddy yard, so between me and the dog coming in and out all day my house is not a pretty sight.

 

For this bake, I made three batches of bread: 2 ABAA recipes: the columbia sourdough, and Ponsford's ciabatta, with a levain-risen biga. I also made a couple of loaves of my favorite multigrain sandwich bread, my own recipe adapted from Reinhart's multigran extraordinaire. I mixed the columbia the night before, and as Mountaindog suggested in another thread let it rise about an hour before refrigerating it. I pulled it first thing in the morning, and let it warm up for 3 hours or so before shaping. The ciabatta biga calls for a minute amount of yeast, so I wasn't sure how much levain to substitute. The recipe's description is that the biga may not do much for hours, but will triple in volume in 24 hours, so I decided on a couple of tablespoonfuls of levain, and it perfomed just about right. I would probably use even less in summertime, or if my starter was exuberant.

 

All in all it was pretty uneventful, though I'm starting to realize that I need to let the fire burn down sooner, and/or allow extra time for the oven to cool off before baking. I keep finding myself with ready-to-go loaves and a 500+ oven, which is fine for some breads but a little too hot for others. Anyway my timing was such that it was consistenly 25 degrees or so hotter than I needed for each batch. I can leave the door open to speed up the cooling, but I worry about overdoing that too. I'm still learning, obviously. Here's some pics from the day:

 

Multigrain loaves in the oven with chcken curry--that turned out very well (made by my SO).

 

Some of the ciabattas got a wee bit dark. I've had a habit of taking them out a little too early, so I left them in longer--and overdid it the other way. Everything was quite dark actually, the flash makes them look just right though... :)

 

Ciabatta crumb: Not bad, but a little less holey than the non-levain version I made last time. The flavor is excellent though...

 

And finally, while finishing up with granola, it started snowing!! This wasn't expected to start until after midnight, but you know how that goes. I burned one batch of granola, and I blame blizzard conditions for my tardiness on checking on it!  We now have 8 inches of snow with more on the way--so I'm happy at home with wayyyy too much to eat.

 

 

 

Comments

mountaindog's picture
mountaindog

Wow Breadnerd, I always love to see what your making in your mud oven, you got really great oven spring with everything you baked! Really beautifully-shaped loaves too. My husband loves his bread almost burnt, so he's drooling over your nice dark crusts!

Did your SO use the chicken curry recipe from that Australian site you linked to awhile back? I still need to try that...great job...snow makes a great excuse for cooking too much food, doesn't it?

breadnerd's picture
breadnerd

I have a gallon ziplock back of verrrry dark granola, if you want it! 

 

Yep I think he mostly followed the recipe from the Australian site, though we had chicken thighs on hand instead of beef or lamb--and he improvised on spices.   I think it was in there an hour or so and the chicken was very tender.  

auzziewog's picture
auzziewog

oh just to think of 20 deggies and F at that not Celcius and here I am iin warm Sydney - downunder - where it has rained a lot for the last couple of days - Hurray - we need it - could u give me link to the Downunder curry recipe please ? like to see it - I am still blown over by this site - but have not progressed passed no knead loaves as yet but am working on it - love your oven 

 

 

 

 

 

breadnerd's picture
breadnerd

I think I posted this somewhere--we adapted it to what was on hand:

http://handyprojects.blogspot.com/2005/06/sunday-curry-with-fresh-bread-in-mud.html

 

This site was kind of an inspiration during oven building so the curry was in homage to their "assistance"!

 

Re: Smoky bread--the fire is pulled out of the oven and the hearth is swept of ashes before baking, so in theory there's no smoke during the baking--you're just using the stored up heat from the fire. But, in reality, it's difficult to clean every last bit of ash and soot out, so I'm sure there's a little tiny extra something added to the flavor--plus the walls of the oven are smokey and earthy smelling. I do watch for any ash on the bottom crust, it's pretty easy to spot.

 

Oh and in a final update--I sliced the columbia yesterday and it's a very dense crumb--even with the huge oven spring.  Kind of wierd, the main change this time was the overnight proof in the refrigerator, but I'm not sure what happened.  It's still good, just not the same interior as last time.  A puzzle. 

mountaindog's picture
mountaindog

Breadnerd - I'm not sure if this could be a reason or not, but I also notice lately that anytime I make the Columbia into a wide or large loaf, the crumb also comes out dense. If instead I shape them into smaller more narrow batards with a lot more surface area, they get bigger holes. Maybe because of the percentage of whole wheat, rye, and wheat germ in that recipe it has a tendency toward a more dense crumb with the more massive loaves? Or it could be that the dough needed to warm up longer before shaping from the retard?

suelynn's picture
suelynn

SueLynn
QUESTION: Does bread baked like this have a smoky taste?

auzziewog's picture
auzziewog

thank u for the curry recipe and link to the URL. I have a simple recipe that never seems to go wrong :

i onion - 3 garlic 1 inch fresh ginger - 1 x green sweet pepper 2 bunches of cilantro all chopped/sliced into the pan with a tablespoon of oil/butter till they become softish - add 2 teaspoon salt; 1 teaspoon tumeric; 2 teaspoon garam masala let sizzle - add 4 chopped tomatoes  - if too dry a little water -add meat and stir - i add potatoes 40 minutes be4 the end - and this is always nice

I am doing my 16th batch of no knead bread and first try on italian bread

 

 take care

 gerry