The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Seek advice: Using Wood fired Kiln to bake bread

M2's picture
M2

Seek advice: Using Wood fired Kiln to bake bread

My husband is in the process of building a wood fired kiln for his pottery, and he is thinking of having a section for my sourdough bread (I think this is what he was thinking...).  I just thought that this is kind of impossible due to the huge temperature difference...I was wondering if anyone on the forum has any experience/knowledge on this?

Thanks for any advice,

Michelle

sgregory's picture
sgregory

May be able to bake bread during the cool down cycle.  I would be leary of the glazes used in the pottery.  Making sure that the bread never contacts them or any spillage.

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

I learned that their wood-fired kiln (they burn pine wood) reaches temperatures in excess of 2500F.  That's hot enough to melt the wood ash, which fuses with their glaze to produce beautiful reds and browns.  It's also hot enough to do the same to bread dough, so sgregory's comment about waiting for things to cool down is on target.

Paul

M2's picture
M2

Thanks sgregory and Paul.  I guess it is going to be quite challenging to monitor the temperature (we have no experience in wood fired oven at all). 

He've got all the info he needs to build the kiln, but in terms of incorporating the bread baking compartment, I'd love to hear any suggestion.

Michelle

dwfender's picture
dwfender

Michelle,

I think you can do some research by looking into wood-fired pizza ovens. It's the same general concept. Pizza napaletana cooks around 900 degrees so to bake bread in the same ovens they scrape the ash from the oven and wait for the temperature to drop. Then you bake your hearth breads first and your enriched breads second as the oven continues to cool. 

Do you guys have experience with heating the oven? Starting with the firewood spread across the base of the entire oven and then pushing the coal to a corner etc? There's definitely a bit of an art to wood-fired baking, but all the details may not apply to using a kiln for both purposes.

M2's picture
M2

Thanks dwfender for the wood fired pizza oven suggestion.  I think he is going (or planning) to build a separate compartment for bread baking.  So pottery and bread won't be sharing the same floor.

He has taken two hands on workshop on wood fired pottery.  During the first class, he asked me to prepare a sourdough for him to bake (and eat) during the graveyard shift that he voluntarily took.  Of course, the bread turned into a charcoal.  Quite funny.

Michelle

yozzause's picture
yozzause

Hi Michelle

My father in law built a wood fired kiln and  and i collected the mountain of pine that was required for firing which he duly denailed and stacked for months. On the designated day he and my motherin law started the firing process slowly building up the heat the process and  lasted for 24 hours, when we saw them the next day they were shatterd as well as being slightly blackened.

My father in law was a bit disappointed as he thought that he had failed to reach the desired temperature even though he was adding a pallet slat of wood every minute,  it apparently vapourises as soon as it goes into the fire. they had flame shooting from the fairly tall chimney most of the night.

When everything had cooled to allow the results to be assessed (several days) he deduced the temperature had actually been high enough as the desired glazes had melted. He only ever used it the once and went back to his electric and gas kilns  that are automatic.

From my perspective the chambers are completely different in nature with the clay items being added onto racking before firing and the kiln remaining completely closed until everything is quite cool. i also believe there are some particularly nasty fumes given off by the different glazes etc during the firing process and there could still be some nasty residues etc left behind in the chamber.

I think you will find its a matter of horses for course. Kiln for pottery oven for bread.

 A wood fired oven can accomodate the use of non fire bricks to save money apparently the pinky coloured ones are quite high in alumina and work very well a tip from a brick manufaturer and also the solid reds pretty good too.  

Regards Yozza

M2's picture
M2

Thanks for sharing the story.  We have moved out of the city in order to pursue this dream of wood fired pottery.  There is no turning back :)

Yes, I think Mark did order the pinky bricks to build the kiln.  Currently, we have some other projects that need to be taken care of first.  I guess baking bread in a pottery kiln is a novel idea.  Of course I'll stick with the oven for now!

Michelle

yozzause's picture
yozzause

hi Michelle if you go www.traditionaloven.com you can get a cd from Rado on all the do's and dont,s of oven building and tha plans for a really good wood fired oven for under $50, we built an oven to the plans an it works beautifully

regards Yozza 

M2's picture
M2

What a great resource!  I think building the cooking oven is a loooong term project for us... we want to do so many things :)

Michelle

sgregory's picture
sgregory

I would have a similar concern regarding the fumes.  The coloring in glazes is typically various forms of metal oxides, odd ones too. 

Ferm Mentation's picture
Ferm Mentation

Michelle and Hubby,

I have had some experience in pottery work and bread baking as well.   Although there are a number of different designs for building a wood fired kiln it is plausible to incorporate a bread oven into any design as it is yet to be built.  The design must have a sealed oven chamber to prevent any contamination from the firing of the pots as well as any glaze.  This can be done by using two chambers together attached to the wood kiln.  Think of a box within another box having an air spacebetween them that heat flow can be controlled by two dampers.  One damper to allow heat in and another to let heat out.  The object is to keep the temp at relatively lower temps to protect the masonrys integrity by not overheating and prevent any cracks from heat expansion. Remember you are heating mass up to as high as 3000 degrees so you must be able to keep the oven in a more moderate 500 degree range for your bread to bake.  Good wishes to you both.  I would like to try a piece of that bread and see some of your pottery work as well.   FM

M2's picture
M2

I'd love to show you Mark's work when the project is done!  As to the bread...well, we'll see :) Have you tried baking bread in the wood fired kiln?

Michelle

caltiki's picture
caltiki

I have baked flatbread ON a w-f kiln (like an inverted tandoor), and cooked all sorts of food next to them. The heat they give off is massive, but if you pick your spot, and build a little installation ahead of time, there's some latitude to use it...  I think the only way to bake inside would be to build a separate chamber that would only receive part of the heat (probably would not even have to be connected -- just adjacent -- especially if partially dug into a hill), like a remote white oven... Sounds fun!

 

M2's picture
M2

yep, that's the idea, Caltiki.  The building project has been stalled as we needed to build a green house for our plants before the winter comes.  I'll report back if there is any success baking bread in it.

Thanks!

Michelle

Ferm Mentation's picture
Ferm Mentation

The long term plan is how I did it when building my wood fired oven.  My kiln is electric and is great for my needs.  My wood fired oven took about a year to build due to my work schedule, gardening and pottery.  The only reason why I was able to finish the oven when I did was because I was in rehab for a torn acl that kept me from doing my work.  No pottery in the oven just some fabulous sourdough bread and pizza.  

I would like to hear more about the bread turned charcoal incident.  Maybe that is a forewarning to your oven kiln idea. lol  Just saying as a joke and not to discourage you and your husbands future plans.

Best wishes to you both.  FM