The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

A win for learning but a loss for dinner.

Cascade Diver's picture
Cascade Diver

A win for learning but a loss for dinner.

A bit of a baking failure today.

I finally finished building my brick oven this month. I had a successful pizza party right off the bat. However bread was the adventurer I was really after.

I'll start off by saying I wasn't sure how long the oven would need to get to proper temp and I definitely underestimated the time.

When my dough was ready to bake the oven was not up to temperature yet. Poor timing on all accounts.

When I finally put the loaves in they were over prooved. On top of that I hadn't had the fire going long enough to retain the heat for the bake.

After reading out the coals and putting the key proceed enough in the oven cooled down to an inadequate temperature.

The words of my father are now ringing in my ears "If you are only baking once a month you are never going to learn". My father who was the owner a artisanal bakery during my childhood. I may have grown up in a bakery but not everything about baking was committed to memory. To be honest I wanted to go play as a child not package bread or make dozens of rolls.

Today was a win for learning but a loss for dinner.

gavinc's picture
gavinc

It took me several firings of my oven just to time how long it took to get the bread baking environment.  I had to soak the bricks with heat up to pizza temperature and then let the fire recede and remove the embers. I then had to wait for the flour temperature reached 235-290C (450-550F) empty oven. All up took about 5 hours. However, the family wanted pizza first which always threw off my timing :)

Good luck.

Cascade Diver's picture
Cascade Diver

I'll try getting the oven to pizza temp on my next firing and see what happen.

Cheers!

jbovenbread's picture
jbovenbread

I expect that most brick ovens are somewhat unique when it comes to the characteristics of heat transfer from the fuel to the thermal mass of the oven.  What I have found, for MY particular oven is that if I'm doing a 'cold start' the day of the bake a decent load of appropriate wood will get the oven up to a maximum temperature in about 3 hours, with the temperature dropping to a reasonable bread baking range after about 5 hours, however, there are lots of variables that can affect the temperature regime.

What I am now doing most of the time is starting a fire in the oven the night before I plan to bake.  This allows me to get heat into the thermal mass so instead of starting with a temperature of anywhere from 50 F to 65 F the morning of the bake .... it will be around 210 F for a starting point.  This results in less fuel required to get the temperatures to where you want them, and less time to get there the day of the bake.

I am assuming that you did not place any thermocouples or a thermometer into the oven wall when you started construction.  You may wish to consider a retrofit of a dial thermometer into the oven wall to get an idea of what temperatures are during the oven heating phase.  Another thing you may consider is to keep a data log of your burn ...... elapsed time, what the fire looks like, how much wood has burned etc .... and near the end of the burn, before you rake out the coals  ..... take interior oven wall temperatures with a hand held IR thermometer.  Although I have thermocouples in my oven, I regularly use an IR thermometer these days when I bake.

A consideration for baking pizza.  Bake your bread first and then get a good active fire going in the back of the oven for the pizza.  It should come up to temperature fairly quickly.  At least it seems to work for me.

 

 

Cascade Diver's picture
Cascade Diver

I did not place a thermometer into the construction of the oven.  I do however have an IR.

So for today's bake I had the oven at pizza temp and let it cool out a bit before baking. Still to hot as the side of the bread facing the back of the oven burned before I was able to rotate the loaves around.

 

I plan on baking the next couple of days so hopefully by Sunday i'll get the temperature a little more dialed in.

gavinc's picture
gavinc

I'm assuming you didn't have the fire still burning. The bread environment has no fire or embers, just residual heat soaked into the bricks. 

The floor temperature is 235-290C / 450-550F empty oven.