Thursday, October 6, 2011

Without Fear

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” Steve Jobs

There's a real message here for oven builders and bread bakers. Take big chances. Forget niches. Don't be afraid. Build an unconventional oven and bake what you think won't work.
What's the worst thing that can happen?

 low tech oven base (stump)

yes to earth oven bagels

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Baking in the Wood-Fired Oven

Baking bread in a wood-fired oven presents multiple challenges and often a lot of discouragement. To understand some basic principles about wood-fired bread baking, you can look right to your conventional stove in the kitchen. Bake some loaves in a "cloche," and we'll call this "baking undercover."
Bread baking under a stainless steel cloche
Imagine that your cloche is really a miniature wood-fired oven that only holds one loaf at a time. Part way through the bake, remove the cover of your cloche and note how bland looking your bread appears to be. It's bland looking because the cloche has been containing all that steam escaping from the dough, and the loaf has not had any time to brown.
Leaving the cloche cover off now and finishing the bake, the steam will dissipate, and the bread will brown nicely.
 Bread baking in a Dutch oven
Now translate this to your wood-fired oven. Your baking loaves need steam at the beginning of the bake, but a dry atmosphere for a finish.
Bread baking in a WFO

Baking loaves in a tightly sealed wood-fired oven may provide enough steam, but if they don't, then you'll have to use a steamer. 
The steamer

The most important thing to remember is that you're not going to get good at baking in a WFO unless you bake lots of bread.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Earth Oven Workshop

Although we had to work under pop up canopies because of the rain, I felt we had a great workshop. Never underestimate the weight of an earth oven. It took six of us load the oven onto the pickup truck. Now I hope that the truck doesn't become a permanent resting place for the oven.