Saturday, March 29, 2008

POW Camp Bread Oven

During WWII, many German prisoners were brought to Maine and kept in the Maine forest for the duration of the war. All that now remains of the camp located in upper Somerset County is the bread oven.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Sourdough Starter

The primary cause of sourdough bread failures usually has to do with weak starter. A poor or weak starter will not leaven the dough properly. Starter should be bubbling, robust and pleasant smelling. It should look something like the starter in the photo. Much more about this later.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Soft Crust

The last sourdough bread I baked had a soft crust, but I'm not exactly sure why. In this case the outer surface of the dough was coated with olive oil before it went into the bowl to rise. Rarely do I place a dough in the refrigerator to retard its leavening properties, but this time I had no choice. Friends were visiting and we already had plenty of bread. I wanted to bake the next day, and that's what I did.
After preheating the oven, I took the bowl of dough from the refrigerator and flopped the cold dough directly on the quarry tiles. Then I covered the dough with my flower pot cover. The dough was much softer than usual when it went on the tiles. I baked it at 475 undercover for 15 minutes and then at 400 for 30 minutes.
The bread was excellent, but the crumb was quite uniform. Usually I get irregular mouse holes.
The reason for the soft crust probably had something to do with the olive oil and the long proof in the refrigerator. More experimenting is called for
Check out the photos.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


Although it's officially Spring, someone made a mistake because it's really still Winter.
However, the weather should never stop you if you're passionate about bread baking and pizza making.
This is Ollie's first try at baking in an earth oven, and the results were astonishing. We were a little concerned about the oven not heating up properly because of the weather, but we got the oven so hot we were baking right by the oven opening, the coolest spot. Even then, without constant attention, the pizzas would burn in less than 2 minutes. After we were done baking and eating, the oven was then at the right temperature for baking, but who wanted to wait?
To find out how to build an earth oven, go to and go to bread books.