The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

wood fire bakery

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james.bull's picture
james.bull

wood fire bakery

I thinking of starting a bakery at my house using wood fired cob stile ovens and was just wondering if it was a good idea. I was also seeing if any one knows the heath and safety codes for California for a home bakery. Also if there is some thing I would have to do about being outside or if I could even be out side and be able to sell my product.

ClimbHi's picture
ClimbHi

Take a look at Alan Scott's book "The Bread Builders". He ran a successful bread baking business using his self-built WFO.


You should also understand that, in a commercial enterprise, your costs are a key element. If you can get wood free, or very cheaply, than by all means consider that. But if not, wood tends to be a pretty expensive source of heat and you may find that gas is cheaper than wood, depending on where you are located. Also understand that most baking is done after the fire has gone out and been removed from the oven. So the choice of fuel has no effect on the end product -- only the fact that it was cooked in a hot masonry oven.


As for codes, contact your local health department -- they should be able to tell you what you need to know.


ClimbHi
Pittsburgh, PA

james.bull's picture
james.bull

Well thanks for the book reference I will have to get it. I have thought about the wood thing and that's not a problem. I live in a place were you can still go out to the woods and get down wood for a low price from the forest service. I have herd of people using corn stocks and leftovers from the garden to heat there ovens is that a good idea?

ClimbHi's picture
ClimbHi

Corn stalks, old socks -- doesn't really matter. For most baking (things like pizza and smoked foods excepted), the fire is ancient history by the time food is placed in the oven.


Free wood won't be particularly dry, so it'll take more the heat the oven. But for a commercial enterprise, that shouldn't be a problem since the oven will never really cool down anyway -- it's far more efficient to keep an oven hot than it is to make it hot in the first place.


For the environment's sake, you should try to burn only dry materials, preferably hardwoods or other fuel that produces a minimal amount of smoke. Once the fire is going well, and the oven is hot, things like corn stalks can be used in moderation without producing excessive smoke.


Understand that you'll be spending a LOT of time and effort gathering, cutting and splitting wood though. Especially for a larger commercial oven.


ClimbHi
Pittsburgh, PA

james.bull's picture
james.bull

I have been selling fire wood and I have had wood heated houes for all my life and I know all to well the task ahead of me but thanks for you consern my back well need a good masage from time to time. I now would like to know how much wood I would for the year? How I well impact the the local inviroment and were to sell my bread? I'm so thankful that there are people out there to help thanks again.

ClimbHi's picture
ClimbHi

That depends on the size, design & weight of your oven, how well it's insulated, how often you bake, the size of the bakes, etc., etc., etc. Every one is different.


Mine is small (five 1-lb baguette-shaped loaves per bake) and it takes a bit more than a cardboard file box full of very dry wood (more if I haven't pre-dried it in the oven after the last bake) to heat it from ambient temp to baking temps. Because mine is so small, that's good for two or three bakes per firing, each with a lower temp/longer time.


A friend of mine has a wood-fired pizza business. Much bigger oven, fired every day for several hours at a time. He goes through over a cord of VERY expensive, *kiln-dried*, hardwood every week. (He needs kiln dried wood because pizza is baked with the fire in the oven, and it has to be HOT! Normal air dried wood just can't cut it -- too much moisture, so it never gets as hot as it needs to.)


Pre-drying wood in the oven after the bake doesn't work well if you're going to fire again in a day or two, as in most commercial settings, since it drains a lot of heat to dry the wood -- heat that will just have to be regenerated on the next firing. You actually end up needing more wood that way.


Environmental impact? Again, that depends on how efficient your oven is, how big, how much firing you need to do, the types and dryness of the wood, etc., etc., etc. So, more impact than if you used gas, less than if you used, say, coal.


Where to sell your bread & baked goods? Local eateries, specialty shops, walk-ins. Alan Scott's business consisted of a setup like an old-fashioned milk delivery route, but with bread instead of milk. He developed a bunch of customers who would take X loaves every week. (That would also help knowing when, what and how much product to make.)


I suggest you put together a well thought out business plan before you start laying brick though. ;-)


ClimbHi
Pittsburgh, PA

james.bull's picture
james.bull

much to think about and your input is greatly appreciated