The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Baking in a woodfired oven

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Louise57's picture
Louise57

Baking in a woodfired oven

I am currently busy building a outdoor woodfired pizza oven and can't wait to start baking artisan breads in it! Any tips, recipes and comments welcome!

MichaelLily's picture
MichaelLily

Make sure you have a good, tight-fitting door to trap steam.  It makes a huge difference.  Also, cook a lot and cook often.  Get to know your oven and make it worth the investment.

1. Pizza (always heat the oven to pizza temp anyway, so you might as well cook pizza while you're at it)

2. Roast coffee beans

Without the fire in the oven, cook the following:

3. Bread (lots of bread, do full loads and more than one load.  I make a month's worth at one time)

4. Turkeys and chickens (you can do as many as you want simultaneously)

5. Pork butt, brisket, ribs

You can also roast veggies and dry fruit or cook meringues.  It's also worth trying a real pumpernickel bread in the cooling oven overnight.  The most important thing is to get a lot of use out of that oven and practice a lot.

sandydog's picture
sandydog

I have experience of baking in 3 different wood fired ovens - One of them can bake 6 small loaves at a time, one can bake 30 large loaves at a time and the other one can bake 150 loaves at a time.

Only the small one is outdoors and I must warn you that it is a real pain in the backside when it is snowing/raining or blowing a hooligan as you have to get your dough from indoors to outdoors, and your breads (And yourself) back inside without getting soaked and/or falling over.

The larger ovens are sheltered - the medium one by a shed with proper ventilation, with space to mould/shape/proof etc - the largest one is in a building with space to do everything invoved in the process.

With regard to tips, recipes and comments;

Recipes - Pretty much any artisan bread you already bake in your current oven will be do-able in the WFO. If you are already experienced in baking this type of bread then you have nothing to fear and very little to learn other than the normal consideration when you change from electric to gas, or buy a new cooker. If you are not already experienced  then welcome to our world and good luck - there are lots of folks on this site ready to help you - You just need a good system for working out who it is that it is worth following the advice of - If I were you I would restrict myself to only those who have experience of baking in such ovens.

Tips - Look before you leap (I might be a bit late here)  You would be well advised to find someone near to you who bakes in one and ask if you could attend/help at a baking session - then you will understand all about preparing/storing/obtaining the wood/fuel resource as well as observing the necessary techniques (Wielding a long peel quickly/safely as one example) for such an oven/session.

Comments - If you are baking home quantities only then I would ask why you want the fuss of using a WFO? They are - whilst quite good fun at the start, and a brilliant conversation starter for friends, family and other "breadheads" - a lot more time consuming, and problematic (Consistent heat, climatic difficulties etc) than gas/electric ovens. If you are baking commercially then you have to weigh up the potential marketing benefits versus the convenience and consistent results of a commercial hearth deck oven. I know bakers who espoused the virtues of their wood fired oven for years (Well they would, wouldn't they) but once they got their hands on a good deck oven they pretty soon realised how much more it suited their needs, producing quality loaves time after time with no muss no fuss.                                                      

My comments are not meant to dissuade you from your WFO mission, as I know there is lots of fun to be had with them, merely to appraise you of one bakers findings/opinions - I am sure there will be plenty of contrary opinions to mine and you must do what suits you. I look forward to hearing how it goes for you once you get it build.

Happy baking,

Brian.

tchism's picture
tchism

Hi MichaelLily,

Besides the great advice the members above gave you, I would suggest looking into getting the book "From the Wood Fired Oven" by Richard Miscovich

http://www.chelseagreen.com/bookstore/item/from_the_woodfired_oven:hardcover,%20plc

The book is well written and contains answers to many of the questions I had when I started using my cob oven. Richard covers firing and using your oven through the all of the temperature ranges the oven passes through as it cools. It also includes recipes and tips for bread and many items that your oven can be used for. There is even a section covering oven construction tips. I higher recommend it.

Good luck on your oven and keep us up on your progress!