The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

New member from New Mexico

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bsumberg's picture
bsumberg

New member from New Mexico

Hi,

I'm a new member from Santa Fe, NM who bakes in an outdoor adobe oven called an horno. Is there anyone out there who also bakes in a wood fired oven? I've been having some problems I hope to get some advice on. The bread has been coming out with a very hard crust and I'm not happy with it. I'd love to hear from anyone with some experience in this kind of baking. I make about 8 loaves at a time, part whole wheat flour, long ferment.

Thanks, Bobbie

Darkstar's picture
Darkstar

Welcome to TFL.

I'm sure someone with adobe or brick oven experience will reply to this and share their knowledge. Crust is formed when the surface of the dough dries out enough to start to get hot, hard, and carmalize. My guesses are that maybe the dough isn't very wet or that the oven is very dry and/or very hot.

Earth/brick oven folks please chime in.

Until they do Bobbie here are some links for searches of this site.

Brick Oven

Clay Oven

Adobe Oven

I hope these searches of the old postings help. There is a wealth of information about all things bread in this site if you poke around enough.

Jason

Naomi Yoheved's picture
Naomi Yoheved

Hi there

I'm just another "Bread Geek", but I find making bread very relaxing and fun!  Looking for some challenges, new bread to try.  One day I hope to make an earthen bread oven!  Naomi Yoheved

 

Bobbi

 I have long wanted to make a clay over...but all I can do at this point is research it.  From what I understand I totally concurr with you other posts, that the crust is not wet enough.  In some cases I have read where the baker sprays the bread surface often during baking or you can try placing an old pot with water in it with the bread in the oven to keep the air more moist.  Good luck! 

 

Naomi

holds99's picture
holds99

Bobby,

Having only read about these ovens, you made me curious about wood fired ovens so I Goodled and found some interesting sites.  Don't know how hot your oven gets but this one reaches 700 deg. F. which, if your oven reaches anywhere close to that temp. could account for your crust being, as you said: "very hard".  I have seen some videos of the Poulaine baking operation in France and the dough for their Pain Siegel rye, that they bake in wood fired ovens and sell commercially, is made with very wet dough.  Is this your own oven or a community/shared oven?  Seems like this type baking would be very specialized so you would need to find someone who has experience with this process. Here's a site that explains the wood fired process with diagrams.

http://www.fornobravo.com/pizza_oven_management/oven_operation.html

This article says: "There are many dishes that do not need, or want, the high heat of a live fire and a very hot 700ºF oven. For this type of cooking, let your fire die down and allow your oven to cool. You can use the heat of the coals and a hot oven to roast, brown, sear, and grill, and to ensure that your oven will retain enough heat for longer periods of cooking."  Like Darkstar said "keep poking around" unless someone with experience posts.  Sound complicated but challenging.

Like I said, I'm totally ignorant on this issue, just thought I would pass this on to you, for what it's worth.  Hope you get some competent, helpful advice.  Good luck.

HO

JERSK's picture
JERSK

  I have an earth oven that I believe is similar to an horno. I fire my oven for 4-5 hours and the oven reaches probably close to 700 degress. This is too hot to bake bread in. It's good for pizza though. I've also roasted vegetables in it, eggplants, peppers, tomatoes, onions. After the initial cool down period you can bake bread. I'm usually baking 3-4 rounds of bread at 30-40 minutes each before it gets too cool for bread. Unless you have an infra red thermometer you have to try to gauge the temperature of the oven. One way is to throw some flour, a big pinch, onto the oven floor and time how long it takes to brown. About 14 seconds is good for bread baking. My oven stays hot for a good 16 hours and I try to do some slow roasting in it after the bread. Baked beans come out great. I'm still exploring the uses. It's buttoned up  for the winter as I live in Maine and didn't build a shelter over it.

breadnerd's picture
breadnerd

Hello and welcome.  I've got an earth oven too, though like JERSK mine has a lot of snow between me and it at the moment!

Though baking with a WF oven does make for some nice qualities in a crust, there are also a lot of factors contributing to crust qualities--as mentioned:  temperature, dough wetness etc.  Can you provide some details on your methods?

At first guess, I'd say you may need to let your oven cool down a bit.  Once the fire is raked out, I just use a cheap grocery-store oven thermometer at the moment.  It will "bury the needle" over 600 degrees at first, but after I let the heat soak in a bit (and crack the door if it's really too hot) the bread does great around 550 degrees or so (depending on the variety).

Naomi Yoheved's picture
Naomi Yoheved

Hi there

I'm just another "Bread Geek", but I find making bread very relaxing and fun!  Looking for some challenges, new bread to try.  One day I hope to make an earthen bread oven!  Naomi Yoheved

I am trying to find a home made sour hough starter recipe that works! I tried many times but it just doesn't give me the nice fluffy result I'm looking for...does anyone have a recipe they would like to share?

Also, just a little comment, if anyone would like a way to get that lovely black/brown russian bread colour, my little tip for the day is 3 tbsp of Brazilian chocolate powder and 3 tsps of instant coffee to the water portion of the mix.  Don't mix with the yeast to start, just after before you start kneading the flour in.  It comes out lovely!

holds99's picture
holds99

Naomi,

Read Nancy Silverton's book Breads From The La Brea Bakery (page 37: Maintaining The Starter).  It will give you an idea of what's involved.  I'm sure there are other excellent books you can find that will take you through the process of creating and maintaining a starter and tell you what you need to do to it before you use it in baking.

JERSK's picture
JERSK

I used the sourdough starter method from"The Bread Builders" by Alan Scott and Dan Wing. It is an invaluable book for anyone interested in using wood-fired ovens, as well as probably the most technically complete manual on sourdough, yeasts, grains, milling etc. I've heard Nancy Siverton's sourdough starter method is fairly complicated and many people I've heard from on this site say their's has failed, though other's have had success.

sphealey's picture
sphealey

I also note that Scott and Wing's advice for the baker who wants to try sourdough is to order a sample of starter from King Arthur or Sourdo.com; they suggest beginning a new on from scratch as the last option. Based on my experience I would tend to agree.

sPh

holds99's picture
holds99

Jersk,

Ten or so years ago I made Nancy Silverton's white sourdough starter using grapes.  If you follow her recipe to the letter you won't have any problems with her white sourdough starter.  However, it takes 14 days to build it to maturity and careful attention and tending while the process is under way.  Her wholewheat (and rye, I think) sourdough starter(s) is cultivated from a small amount of her white starter. She explains that is done because of the oil residue (from the germ) in whole wheat flour can and does cause spoilage of whole wheat and rye starters.  She says she has had whole wheat starter go bad on her in the fridge within a short period of time.  So, you're right, Nancy's process is time consuming but I have had very good results with it and have been using starter from the original batch for the past 10 years.  It's a good winter project if you like to play around with processes.

For someone new to the sourdough process I would recommend purchasing starter from one of the sites that sells it on the Internet.  As you mentioned, King Arthur sells it in dry (and wet, I think) for a nominal cost.  Some other sites I have seen offer exotic types of starter made from various things and some also offer starter from various countries; Poland, Russia, etc.  My suggestion, for what it's worth, is to go with the King Arthur sourdough starter. Although I have never ordered their sourdough starter I can personally vouch for the quality of K.A. prducts, and baking supplies, having purchase both flour and tools from them online.  Incidentally, in my experience deaing with K.A. you won't find a more responsive customer support group anywhere.   K.A. usually answers the phone on the first ring and the last time I called them I received prompt, professonal service as opposed to an unintelligible person somewhere in New Dehli or Manilla (whose customer support phone name was "BOB"). 

Good luck,

Howard

bsumberg's picture
bsumberg

Greetings and thanks for all your comments. The problem was dough that was too dry as was suggested. I knew it was too dry before putting it in the oven and thought it would affect the texture of the bread but had no idea it would result in a crust like that. I baked yesterday and the 10 loaves came out beautifully.

I've been baking in this oven for a few years and really enjoy it. I've roasted chickens, cooked vegetables, pizza and desserts as well as bread in the oven. Each time is an experiment and I learn something new. It makes it both fun and frustrating. If anyone is considering building one I'd be happy to share my experience. Bobbie