September 6, 2016 - 4:01am
wood fired pizza oven for bread
I have been thinking for a while to start selling bread locally at a farmers market, but one of the things that has been off putting is that I would have to rent a kitchen to bake my bread in, and the costs that entails. the yesterday I was having pizza at my local place where they have a WFO and it got me thinking I could possibly rent their kitchen out over night and bake breads there.
So, has anyone been cooking breads in a pizza oven? my main concern would be heat retention, as the walls are much thiner. If I keep a fire lit whilst the bread is baking could i still get an even bake? I could build a small wall inside the oven to block too much direct heat, similar to a scotch oven.
any thoughts are much appreciated.
I have a small wood fired pizza oven at home built by myself. The internal diameter is 70cm and the thickness of the walls is about 35mm. It is extremely well insulated and I am using it for baking bread as well. Unfortunately there are some limitations when baking bread like:
1. You can start baking at 260dC or better at 240 To 250 dC. Before that you have to equalize the temperature of the walls and hearth that your bread will bake evenly. This takes some time - at least 20-30 minutes after removing ash.
2. I can bake 2 batches in a row, after that the oven is too cold - less than 200 dC, so I can't get a decent crust.
3. Keeping a small fire during bake is not feasible as you would need to keep oven opened what will cause too much flow of cold air, otherwise the fire will die due to lack of oxygen. The temperature would not be evenly distributed so one might expect burned parts of loaves. When baking pizzas one can rotate them to compensate for uneven distribution of temperature. Actually you would like to seal the oven as much as possible to keep all the steam inside at least for first 15 minutes of bake for each batch. I am using a small iron bowl and throw severa ice cubes in it just before closing the inner door to generate enough steam. However, I can't achieve the same effect with this as I can get in iron-cast skillet. On the other side I always get superb oven spring in wood fired oven due to accumulated heat in the hearth.
I would suggest you to test the oven first how many batches you can bake. You can then start a small fire for 30 minutes and equalize the temp again what will take another 30 minutes, so one hour break. Some people use gas burners to heat the hearth for the last batches. I would definitely run some test before deciding whether hiring this kitchen. Id depends on how much bread you would like to bake, what will be your schedule for baking etc...
Hope this will help a little bit towards the right decision.
Happy baking, Joze
I built a brick oven years ago out of bricks, so both floor and walls are rather thick, although not nearly as thick as a barrel vault oven. I could get 3 loads no problem, and more if I needed to and was smart about it. One time I managed to get 6 bakes and it was still hot enough for one more.
Assuming you have the space in your backyard, you could consider the cost of building an alan scott oven (plans available on this site by someone - just search). Figure out how much rent money versus cost of build, and then how long before the cost is the same. From that date forward, it's free. But if you don't have the space, then you're stuck. As to being able to build one, or not, I would imagine you'd fine many bread enthusiasts in your area that might be up to helping if it meant they got to bake in your oven a few times over the first year based on how much they helped.. but then again, that depends on how many people actually show up that have skills and can help - you don't want suzi and/or stan butterfingers, just looking to tag along.. sorry, too many thoughts I know.. but there it is.. good luck!