The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Scoring for a Wood-Fired Oven

Bisnilo's picture

Scoring for a Wood-Fired Oven

I am relatively successful in obtaining a good-looking loaf with decent ears when baking in a conventional oven but since I have started baking in a wood-fired oven I have managed to make some delicious bread but, although I score in exactly the same way, I have not managed to get the loaves to develop ears at all.  Can anyone tell me how I should alter my technique for a wood-fired oven?  This happens with various recipes although I mostly follow Chad Robertson´s  Basic Country Loaf.

dmsnyder's picture

A photo of your "problem loaves" would help with the diagnosis, but insufficient steam would be my first guess.


arlo's picture

I've managed with a few wood-fired oven bakeries in the past few years. I do not know the type you are using, but I've used Allen Scott style and know that without a bit of steam (garden sprayer), my loaves tended not to really open as well as a deck oven -due to the fact that it was a extremely dry, hot oven, only relying on the loaves themselves to generate steam.

If I loaded 60 loaves into the oven and forgot to steam, I would see 'ears', but a bit different crust then I would with a properly steamed oven. Of course if the loaf is properly proofed and hits a 500 degree deck, it'll bloom nicely, but it could set quicker with a high dome temp and no steam.

Bisnilo's picture

Sorry - I should have taken photos.  Certainly will next time.

I am using a small dome oven with internal diameter of 80 cm and baking 3 or 4 loaves at a time.  I have used a garden sprayer before loading and placed a pan with water in the oven for first 10 minutes.  

The scoring does leave a pattern - a 2-3 cm "track" - but I would love to be able to create "ears".  I also find I am not getting as good a rise as I do in a conventional oven.  

AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11 (not verified)
BobSponge's picture

2nd Arlo's comment about steam.  I have a big oven (44" cooking surface) and started with a 2-gallon garden sprayer, I got little spring and no ears.  We now use a sprayer hooked up to a hose and I'm seeing much better results.   I also find when my oven is hotter, its harder to get expansion.  I'm assuming a hotter oven would mean the crust sets faster, restricting the loaf's expansion.    If you have a Dutch oven, try one loaf in that with the other loaves loaded normally.

When I took the wood fired oven class at SFBI, we baked in both the deck oven and WFO, they never told us to score differently.



Bisnilo's picture

Many thanks for the tips.  I am guessing that my oven is too dry and perhaps a little too hot. As I find the temperature falls quite rapidly, despite closing the door and chimney, I tend to load the oven at a higher than ideal temperature (550+ deck temperature).  I will experiment with lower loading temperature and more steam.  I generally use a dutch oven when baking in a conventional oven with great results; it is these results I hope to emulate in the WFO.