Coal-fired Oven

So, I'm still harbouring hopes of owning a brick oven. However, the last discussion hit a snag...we won't be able to find wood where we live (in the suburbs). Besides, hubby is deeply suspicious of the wood we're likely able to get...he thinks it would be chemically treated. Ugh.

Then I saw this. Having unsightly blackened walls aside, it seems to produce great breads.

Does anyone have any experience with brick ovens using fuel other than wood?

Ta.
TP


32 comments

TP I cook all of my bread using Lump Charcoal.  Look around in your area and see if there is any charcoal.  There are some people here in the US really like charcaol that is made from Coconut shells.  See if you can find any of that.

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." Jim Elliot

 


Duane, you should tell TP about your cooker (is it the Big Egg one you have?).  It might be a good alternative for what she's looking for.  I'd love to see a photo of it, if you ever take one! :)

Cheers, Celia



LOL! Big Egg?

Will find out more about lump or coconut shell charcoal. I just remembered I've a friend who sells smokeless charcoal. That good? Or chemically-treated?

TP


Hi TP, in Toronto where I'm originally from there were several coal fired Italian bakeries (I forget their names as it was a while ago).  There's a guy where I live now who uses pressed saw dust, not glued or anything - just friction I guess.  Not sure about the wood situation in your country but it may be worth looking into.


Tecky thanks for the "this", i so wish i was there now !
The Scotch ovens which i like and use were fired with coal in Uk. Theres so much wood here, they are fired w wood.Some in Melbourne were coal fired.
Im not sure how the ovens you showed are fired.Presumably the gases are long gone before any product is put in?..its just to heat the chamber.


 


Yep, looks like feeding the oven with coal is viable. Yeah!

John, too bad it's too far south (closer to S'pore), or I'll visit the [s]oven[/s] bakery.

Tony...not too sure about pressed sawdust, or chipwood for that matter, we think they will be probably treated too. Unless one go higher up to the source.

TP


Celia DSL is out to my picture server so I'll see what is posted else where.  You can read about my style of cooker here. http://www.komodokamado.com/KomodoKamadoNew/

The cooker are made in Surabaya, Indonesia.  I have no idea how close or far away from TP they are.

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." Jim Elliot

 


They are seriously cool, Duane!  I love the way your breads get that dark, "woodfired" look, even though they're not baked in a woodfired oven. :)



I gotta find out a way to get this baby! Although a brick oven is my 1st choice, I love the KK's neat size...finding a spot for it will be much easier than for a brick oven. And, it's readymade. I'd like to think of it as an egg than a, er...lizard. So, C...you want one too?

TP



...although I think they're wonderful.  I'm pretty happy with the big Smeg oven I'm using, and I'm pretty impatient, so I like the (pretty much) instant heat.

The ones in Australia are all metal - they look cool too..

http://www.kamadocookersaustralia.com/Kamado_Cookers_Australia_Ga.html



Here is the picture of my cooker.  I went with the textured cooker instead of a tiled one.

Komodo KamadoThe heat in my comes up very fast.  I have a fan that is temperature controlled.  I set the temperature that I want to bake at with my computer and the fan blows air until it gets to the temperature that it is set for.  The cooker set up this way keeps the temperature very close to what it was set for.  The controller also has probes for sticking into food so that when the food is at the right temperature an alarm goes off.  You can read more about the computer controlled fan here.  http://rocksbarbque.com/

TP smokeless charcoal sounds really good.  Ask your friend more about it.  The more pure the charcoal is the less smoke it makes.  The coconut charcoal is reported to be a very clean burning charcoal also.

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." Jim Elliot

 

Frankly, the only thing that turned me off was the tiles. I really [s]covet[/s] like yours, LD, and the ozzie ones (tks, C!) are cool too. Have been busy yesterday, but will contact my friend today...and also, write a feasibility study for hubby. Just kidding. But I do need to sell the idea to him since it's not cheap. I wish there's an agent who sells it here, but I very much doubt there is. The cost will skyrocket with shipping. Hmm...I should be the agent. ;)

TP


Wrote to Dennis Linkletter, creator of the Komodo Kamado.

Wrote to my charcoal friend...here's what he said.

My charcoal are made via compression and extrusion to form its hex shape, we do not need to introduce any binder to form its shape. Customers use them to barbeque so that is direct contact with the heat generated by our product. Other uses are tea houses who use the charcoal to boil their water first before tea leaves are thrown into the pot. Then of course there are still hokkien noodles who swear by the chrcoal to attain the smell. Then I have coffeeshop owners who use them to toast their customers bread.
 
In yr case u r basically utilising the heat. If wood has chemicals, they will be burnt off too. The only thing foreign as in all burning stuff is carbon monoxide.
 
Conclusion, buy charcoal , LOL!



Dennis' reply was almost immediate! Lots to chew on this weekend.

And here's info on Ed's charcoal and how it's made.
Uhm...I'm not spamming...just thought it might be something interesting to know. (The links seem to be playing tricks. Will check with Ed. )

Hubby just introduced the idea of a custom-made tandoori oven. :O My head's bursting.


Ed's Charcoal looks just like the good charcoal that BBQ people here desire a lot.  He does sell the one that is just pressed saw dust and you make to make sure you get the one that is cooked into charcoal after pressing.

All the tandoori ovens that I have seen would be hard to cook most bread in.  Is there a different configuration that I'm don't know about?

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." Jim Elliot

 

There's this Indian chap who has been in the tandoor biz for 30 years...he builds ovens to your specs. His tandoor can reach 400 deg C. So...hubby, who is running away from the Komodo (for obviou$ rea$on$) is thinking real hard about alternatives, especially alternatives which cost a tenth of the Komodo. He says he can have a grate built (and he has seen it before) to bake breads on. Not such a bad idea, coz' then I'd have crazy fun slapping naan and chinese pastries to the sides of a clay oven. Not going to happen soon...coz the tandoor maker is located around 2 hr's drive away. Still...it's something to look forward to.

TP


I checked out the lab test results of Ed's charcoal and it is very good stuff. 

We will need to see pictures of your tandoor oven.  I'll bet it looks really cool.

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." Jim Elliot

 


I wonder if anyone here has experience with gas firing brick ovens? 
I am starting a new small business baking sourdoughs (THANKS to all the generous info on this site..) in an Alan Scott oven. 
As we approach the fire ban season in South Australia we are researching gas devices to insert through the doorway to use instead of, or even as well as wood.  Alan's suggested device looks like it won't be accepted by the gas authorities here.
Our main concern with wood would be safe disposal of coal and ash on a bad day, and while we have adressed this problem in our way, and the local fire service is ok about it, the concern remains.. and gas may be an excellent augmentation anyway.
Would this info help you also TP?
LeadDog's oven is gorgeous!

Do you know if charcoal can be used more than once and how would you dispose of it in the suburbs? 
One of the by products of the wood fired oven I bake with is lumps of charcoal which sound like glass breaking when I empty it out of the wheelbarrow.  I've heard this is a sign of useable quality, but also that making charcoal is an art in itself.
Perhaps in areas of limited wood supply you can use a combo of fuels? 
More food for thought for me.

I think we'll choose the less expensive option because it'll probably be underutilised. 

TP


Your lovely cakes and biscuits will be even spunkier, your braises and roasts, slow roast vegies will be more luscious and you will become obsessed with the efficient usage of residual heat!!  Fun in a demanding sort of way..

Now...that's helpful. All for the cause. ;)

Wishing all the best success for your business, Lily!

TP


[quote=lily]
Do you know if charcoal can be used more than once and how would you dispose of it in the suburbs? 
One of the by products of the wood fired oven I bake with is lumps of charcoal which sound like glass breaking when I empty it out of the wheelbarrow.  I've heard this is a sign of useable quality, but also that making charcoal is an art in itself.
Perhaps in areas of limited wood supply you can use a combo of fuels?  [/quote]

Hmm...don't charcoal burn to [s]ambers[/s]* ashes? At least, that's what I see from my limited experience with BBQs.

*methinks I got the word wrong.


If your oven is within a certain distance from the house, or within a premises, you can still bake on a fire ban day. Ive been baking in SA in a W/F oven for 5 years, and enquired of the CFS, and this is what they told me.
If you have cinders and ash, they should be minimal anyway in one of alans ovens, so simply put them in a designated safe container, and douse w water.
I wouldnt even ask the gas authorities, because frankly they wouldnt know( and will deliberate endlessly), and ive seen many w/f ovens with gas rings in them, and it works well.
Loafer in Melb use a gas torch injector on their oven.
Scotch ovens often had gas torches put in the fire box (sacrilege!).
Worst part about baking in SA with a w/f oven in the heat, is the heat...tests even the most devoted of us...but gas will never produce the same result....and it stinks.


 


Ta for the encouragement TP and John.  All these questions come up with operating one of the oldest types of oven in this nervous beaurocratic modern world!
You are both right re wood burning to ash.  I'll admit that the beauty of the Alan S oven for me is that when life intervenes (kiiiiiiids etc) I can light it later than ideal, burn it hotter until required temp, close it up and still get required heat the next morning.. but I'm left with lumps to dump.  Not as efficient as usual and I'm using more wood than I ought but the job's done.  We do deal with the ash in the way you describe John and it's good to get your perspective on this. 
Another aspect to getting to know this oven is temperature variables due to type of wood used, length and intensity of burn and the time from the last firing. I guess these issues affect any heat-retaining oven and these challenges parallel those encountered with making sourdough bread!
So I hope you can take your baking to another dimension TP - it's dirty fun. 
I happen to also make charcoal and yes you can burn the lump that you find in your oven.  Charcoal is made by using high temperature and limiting the oxygen so the wood doesn't burn up.  I agree with what John says about gas you would never get the heat you need to bake as you do with wood.

I my cooker when I'm done cooking I just close all of the vents and the fire goes out.  The charcoal that is left is used the next time I cook.  It is a very nice system.

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." Jim Elliot

 

These guys tell about it.  It actually sounds pretty good, and you may be able to get shells to make your own.

http://www.kamadocharcoal.com/

So did you have any pictures of the tandoor oven?  Here they just look like you can't bake in them.

Terri

You really are what you eat, so eat wisely...

I'm only going to visit the tandoor maker in Nov or Dec. Deepavali is just around the corner, so, at the moment, he'd be too busy to sit down and discuss designs. But, I'm hopeful, coz apparently, he custom-makes 'em.

TP


[quote=Millciti]

These guys tell about it.  It actually sounds pretty good, and you may be able to get shells to make your own.

http://www.kamadocharcoal.com/[/quote]

It would be best to stay away from kamado charcoal.  The company has lots of problems and the quality of the charcoal has gone from one of the best charcoals you can buy to the bottom of the barrel.  There is a whole board at a forum documenting the problems of the charcoal. http://www.kamadofraudforum.org/viewforum.php?f=22

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." Jim Elliot

 

Thanks for the updated info LD.  I  actually was not recommending the company, rather the type of charcoal.  Your comments about making your own make a lot of sense.  To areas where wood is very dear, the idea of using something that to many is waste always makes sense.  So wouldn't homemade coals made of coconut shells be okay?  Of course I don't know what TP has available - I was guessing because she mentioned it... I have a whole gamut of a supply in my back yard, that is if l don't waste it on bonfires and such.  Right now I just add a little hickory or maple or cherry to my gas grill but your cooker sounds great!

So where did you buy your cooker LD, and which ones do you recommend from this end of the planet?

Terri
 

You really are what you eat, so eat wisely...

 I like my Komodo Kamado.  The Kamado company doesn't make charcoal but buys it from manufactures.  The coconut charcoal can be the finest charcoal you can burn but that depends on the supplier.  I'm thinking that coconut shells might be to difficult for a person to make into charcoal in a homemade set up.  The charcoal that TP's friend makes is from waste and has been tested showing that the percent ash.  That would be the charcoal I would use if I was living where TP does.

The Kamado company really started not because of charcoal but cookers that look just like mine.  You can look around the site I posted about the bad charcoal to see the problems that people have with them.  To be very direct don't buy one of their cooker or anything else from them.  There are a number of cookers that work about the same as the Komodo Kamado that I have never heard any complaints about.  The Komodo Kamado is shipped to the US by the container loads and has even been shipped to Australia.  The other brands that are in the US would be Big Green Egg, Primo, and Grill Dome.  I should take a picture of my baking setup as it works very well for making bread.  The Komodo Kamado is able to have the grills set at four different levels inside of it.  I use two grills when I bake, one for the pizza stone and one for my steaming pan.

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." Jim Elliot

 

Thanks LD... I will start working on finding some funds, I like the portability of your cooker and we may be moving in the next few years.  Not that it is that mobile, but it could be moved at least once.  I should check to see if there are any fantastic fall deals in the area.  But the Scot in me is still leaning somewhat towards an earth oven, since clay is abundant here, and I love sculpture.  It could look really nice in my garden, but would be hard to leave behind. 

http://www.motherearthnews.com/Do-It-Yourself/2002-10-01/Build-Your-Own-Wood-Fired-Earth-Oven.aspx 

By the way... Your posts about
bread in your cooker inspired me to use my grill when my oven went down after hurricane Ike.

Last night I had a little reminder though about gas vs. wood.  I baked two pizzas on my gas grill and decided to bake the ciabatta there too since it was already hot.  If you have the available fuel for wood or charcoal and your grill starts to get low, you just add more wood.  But if you use tank propane for your gas grill and you lost your oven for 3 weeks you should already have a replacement on hand

However - On the other hand if you set your timer to check your bread and somehow it never goes off... Running out of gas was definitely a blessing!  So no burnt bread, and it was at least cooked enough to finish in my regular oven... I didn't have to worry about heating my stone, the bottom was perfect from the grill. 

Sigh.. I too wish I had a nice wood burning something.  Wait a minute...Hummm...The temps were below freezing yesterday here in Ohio.  Does anyone have a technique for baking bread in a regular modern fireplace?  I guess I could try it in my Dutch oven with coals...?  Do you think I will catch the house on fire? 

Terri

You really are what you eat, so eat wisely...