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Baking Bread in the brick oven | Sourdough Companion

Baking Bread in the brick oven

Hi all,

I finally got the opportunity to put some bread in the oven instead of pizza.


First some focaccia.

Then the bread.  Unfortunately as I'm still learning to drive the oven my bread over proofed waiting for it to be ready and the temp was probably a bit low when it went in.  It was also an interesting experience transferring the loavesa and slashing them by the light of a head lamp!  My loading systems and positioning will also get better with practice.

Still haven't built a proper door.

And the finished product.

After the breads we baked a load of 24 muffins and then toasted a couple of trays of museli.  24 hours later the door was still warm to touch, and we're in the middle of winter.  It was certainly a learning experience about how long it takes for the heat to work it's way through the mass and more or less equalise.  The big learning from the day was to start the fire earlier and burn longer and then allow much longer for the temp to equalise.  I thought 6 hours would be enough to get the oven ready, but it wasn't!

I've loaded more photos in my gallery.

 


6 comments

Must fill your heart with pride to see such a big load of beautiful breads coming out of your very own handbuilt oven. Well done, Matthew!


What I do is prefire the evening before, say and make pizza with the live fire
Each of my firings takes about 4 hours, so say fire at 6pm and make pizzas at 8pm, then shut the oven up for the night

Next day I refire for 4 hours, and then shut the oven up for 2-4 hours to let the heat equalize.

Its then good for about 6 hours baking from scorching to hot, and plenty of heat for cakes  roasts, stews etc after

YMMV

Thanks TP. Yes I was a very happy camper!

Jack, thanks for the advice, I've thought about a pre-fire the night before but more in the context of a small fire to start the warming process so the next day the oven is not starting from cold.  Saturday is my baking day and I don't think I'll be able to do much more than light and tend a fire on the Friday night.  I assume that you leave the coals and ash in overnight to extract the maximum heat from the fire?  Do you think that the two burns end up using more, less or the same wood as doing all the heating on the same day?

Thanks

Matthew


As you observed brick adsorbs and releases heat slowly - incidently that makes it a good candidate for energy storage for green power, like solar power to have heat at night.

That means for fuel efficiency you need a small fire for a long time. Lighting two fires 12 hours apart approximates to this, without having to be up all night tending the fire. I leave in the cols and ash until I clean out before baking, lighting the second fire in the ashes of the first.

My oven is about 1m diameter internally, but very well insulated. I use about a wheel barrow of wood per baking, and with that I can bake maybe 6 batches of 10 loaves, plus residual heat for cooking. The trick is to time the dough for the oven, and from small loaves and baguettes in the hot oven to larger miches in later batches as the oven cools, so start another batch every hour or so. I find if I start the first batch of doucgh (I only use sourdough) when I have lit the oven (second fire) the timing works out about right.

One thing I learnt was the importance of shutting the oven up after cleaning for a couple of hours to let it equilibriate, other wise you get hotspots, and very different dome and floor temperatures.  An IR thermometer is useful, as is a digital oven thermometer

 

I'll try that next time (hopefully next weekend) and see how it goes.  With a shorter burn on the baking day I may not be baking in the dark this time!

I don't have an IR thermometer but do have thermocouples in the bricks.

Matthew


Congratulations Matthew! It's a lot of hard work building one of those ovens and you've done exceptionally well.

All the best,
Maedi