September 18, 2015 - 6:47pm
Fresh Out of the Wood Oven
boy was today a really good bake. I would say best loaves yet. Thanks to everyone for the work on getting my recipe and process down.
I ended up at 1900g of water for 2300g whole wheat and upped my starter from 500g to 575g.
Shoving some heavy duty welding gloves inside the oven chimney kept great heat insulation in the dome and I got the best oven spring yet. Cant wait to give these a try!
Also they finished in 36 minutes, all 6. Stone was at 650 upon loading and only dropped to 550 at the end.
crumb pic! How do the bottoms look?
I had wondered if the chimney was letting out too much heat.
Look how they puffed up so nicely! Wow!
I ended up giving these away! On a whim I gave to some good friends on the island. The cook wasn't expecting the loaves for a few days. :) So i will be baking again shortly.
and you will be really good at it!
Did you try different wood, or stay with the cypress?
I tried these two and it was a fast operation. Only one small starter load of blue gum, then a few small sticks of java plum and I had my temp. About 30 min faster than cypress.
...but a little on the pale side. You may find that letting the crust get darker before pulling them from the oven will bring out more flavour.
I once read a comment to the effect that you can't really burn a loaf of bread. At the time I thought the comment was stupid, until I 'burned' a couple of loaves quite badly. It turned out that the burned crust was easily removed by bashing it all over with the back of a heavy spoon, revealing a perfect loaf underneath. I think that must have been what was meant. I'm not advocating turning the outside of your loaves to charcoal but just noting that you don't risk ruining the loaves by letting them get a lot darker than you have.
Good point Jon, I do like the look and taste of a darker crust. I guess I was concerned with the bottoms getting to hard and thick from being on the stone for an extended period of time. But instead of 36 minutes, 45 probably would have been a good target.
That was a very hot stone. I can barely get my oven to that finishing temperature. No wonder some of the loaves have out-sprung the slashes. I'm surprised they didn't explode.
I'm also surprised that they didn't brown more. I don't know what type of oven you use, whether you build the fire in or below the oven chamber, but if it's below, did the roof of the oven get as hot as the stone, do you know? If you were using the temperature of the stone to determine when to load the oven and it came up to temperature 30 minutes sooner than previously, is it possible that the roof didn't have time to get as hot as the stone? Those loaves don't look as if they've had that much heat radiated down on them.
I love the concept of a monk going over to the dark side to achieve a better loaf. Such a humble ambition. The monastic life seems to be good for your sense of the bizarre, anyway. :-)
I really would have expected more colour on top at those temperatures, but agreeing with Jon above - wondering just how hot the top of the oven got? The stone was at 340°C dropping to 290°C in units I understand and that's hot. very hot! My electric oven scorches the bases of breads when the stone is above 250°C for any length of time. I now run my Rofco at about 220°C for the entire bake - 35-40 minutes max.
But no dark colouring/charring at the edges of the cuts at all - at those sorts of temperatures I really would expect it...
Still - lots of good fun with the WFO though!
Air temp is about 400F for first 20 min of bake, then i open door for a sec to vent steam and the bake finishes at around 300F, air temps
Will go longer next time. Probably try 45 to 50 min
That explains the lack of browning. The stone may be extremely hot but the air is barely hot enough at the start of your bake. By the time the bake has finished it's way too cool. That your oven cools that much in so short a time suggests that you haven't heated the oven's thermal mass sufficiently before loading it.
I think you should let your fire burn for a lot longer before loading the oven. Perhaps then letting the fire die down and waiting for the stone to dissipate some of its heat so that the air and the stone are closer in temperature before you start to bake.
need to get used to that. I tried yesterday, saw the stone at 750F and started to clean out charcoal and clean stone, but probably too early. I dont always have the luxury of extra time, so I had to load the oven asap. But if color and abit of texture lost is my biggest issue, then im def on the right track, compared to the issues my breads were having not long ago.
Edit: dont get me wrong though, Im glad for the critique and I will not get complacent!!! Thanks for pointing the lackluster crust out.
"...clean out charcoal and clean stone..."
So your fire's in the oven chamber itself then.
Don't worry, you haven't given the impression that the critique is unwelcome. There's no doubt at all that you're not just on the right track but also well down the road. And you appear to have got there in double quick time. Those are excellent looking loaves. Some of us spent years getting to the point where anyone else would greet our bread with anything vaguely approaching enthusiasm. Well, I did, anyway!
sorry didnt answer all your questions, busy day. Yes the oven is an Il Fornino pro series from amazon. Very small dome, only about 1 foot high, 3.5 feet long, 1.5 foot opening wide.
thanks for the kind words. I have more time tomorrow so the stone will probably pre-heat with several fires for an extra hour or so, making two hours firing.
The oven is not really meant for bread i think, its stainless steel, so i dont know how much heat the roof and the dome really absorbs.
... to get used to a new oven.
I used to think (and still basically do!) that an oven is just a big heat source, but I have 3 different ovens in my little bakehouse and they all perform differently - my latest one, the Rofco B40 is vastly different from the other 2 and it took me a week of overcooked, then undercooked, madly splitting and just plain old "what happened there?" before both it (& me!) settled down on a method that worked for us both, but now its my daily workhorse turning out a dozen big loaves or a mixture of big & small 5-days a week.
I also have 2 outdoor ovens/cookers - one is a Kamado Joe BBQ oven thing - I've made good bread on that, but it also makes good pita/flat/pizza breads. The other, a Fornetto is an indirectly heated wood fired oven - that also makes good bread (and better pizza!), but it took a bit more getting used to.
So hang in there - give yourself time and have fun!
You're right about the oven not being intended for bread. Apparently it's a pizza oven, which explains why the stone gets so hot.
I don't know anything about pizza ovens, except that they're designed to cook very thin flatbreads with very little topping on them in very little time - under 70 seconds according to the web site. I would have thought that would make them less than ideal for baking bread. In which case, I suspect that you're probably doing even better than you seem to be doing.
i think the workaround im going to try for tomorrow, aside from firing longer, is not opening the door so much. The dome is so small that approx 50 to 100 F comes out every time i open the door. Yesterday i must have peeked inside, unnecessarily, about 3 times cause i was so excited about the oven spring. I know incan keep the dome around 500F and the floor at or around 500F if im quick and timing is good.
Also, on another note, isnt it funny to observe that scoring the dough, for me anyway, is a sign of how happy it is. I notice the more refined my dough gets, the happier it is, the easier it is to score the loaf.
Consider insulating the oven with the blanketing material from Il Fornino?
Also, have you considered making a straight up mud dome hearth?
You still need heat up-top in a good pizza oven - to help cook the topping as the fluffy bread base makes for a good insulator!
So in my fornetto, I use the stone at the bottom to cook the base, then transfer the pizza to a 2nd stone in the middle of the oven to let the top get cooked. Takes about 4 minutes. (meanwhile, loading the stone in the bottom with the next pizza). I cooked 24 pizzas in mine for a recent event in the space of about 2 hours. Although it's really only big enough for one pizza per level it has the advantage that I can top-up the firebox with more wood as needed to keep the internal temperature at 350°C
thats some process Gordon.
We do about 20 pizza's in the fornino. Each one takes about 5 minutes with rotation. We add wood in the middle of the cooking if needed by putting the logs on the pizza peel and just lifting them in to the back where the fire is. :)
What a great thing WFO pizza and bread is.
Yes our original plan was to build our own. We are trying this out to see how it works. We plan on going big in a few years.
The fornino thermal blanket is inside the walls. The units roof is jacketed. Two walls, about 3 inches thick, with a thermal blanket inside.
All right im going in this thing again, my goal is hotter air temp.
After 25 min of not peeking in and having an air temp of 400F the entire 25 minutes, the loaves are checked and deemed finished.
Bottoms abit too over done, scorched.
However, I learned alot more by firing longer and getting a deeper heat into the stone and the walls. I fired up to about 800 and worked my way down by letting the coals go for a longer period and did more floor rinses and rest's. I just couldve done one more floor clean to get closer to 500F and I think the bottoms would be cleaner. Next time im going to rock these loaves, but this time will do. I loaded oven around 600 and it dropped to about 525, so im not really losing that much heat when I do the longer, deeper firing. Probably good to drop in at about 500F flat and I might be able to keep the air temp closer to 450F and not darken too much on the top and bottom.
We just started slicing into this and everyone loves it. The bottom is not actually giving off a burnt flavor, more of a smokey woody flavor that really goes well here. Also, yes, the red rustic crust gives off a beautiful texture and flavor. Must be the maillard reaction here, something brewers shoot for in their red ales.
You appear to be a baker. ;-)
appreciate your honesty about the crust.
Wow on the crust colour! Beautiful! And thanks for the crumb shot! :)
What happens when you quickly dust the loaf bottoms (tops while still in the baskets or the peel) with a shot of coarse flour before flipping over onto the peel. That might be just the edge to help the loaves react fast to the heat and lift up their edges to keep from browning too much. Something to play with.
(Coarse flour is less apt to ignite when it hits the hot oven.)
That sounds like something we may have already, i think the cook calls it spirulina or something, will try that, Mini. Thanks so much for the guidance and uplifiting reply.
the word is Semolina! not spirulina
Hey! No problem! I new what you meant before the correction. And that would work just fine. Try it and see what you think. Might make the dough roll off the peel like it had ball bearings. Lol!
When I get a loaf too dark, I have a box grater that takes the carbon off nicely. Good to do while still hot before the burnt aromas go into the loaf. Don't think you will ever need that little titbit. :)
Also... (I like that word) if you toss some of that Spirulina onto the floor of the hot oven, it can show you where the hot spots are lurking. If the oven floor is too hot, it will burn up right away. ;)
going to try it next bake (couple of days from now) and report back.
you get the floor temperature to 450 F and the air temp 425 F,- and no peaking :-) Love this bread inside and out except for the bottoms - but you are very close. A pan with lava rocks (easy enough when you live on a volcano) full of water should supply enough steam just put it in the oven 15 minutes before the bread.
in a few days with the cooler temps. I agree about the bottoms, if only I had washed the stone one more time with water