I finally finished my oven

Hi Folks,

I'm new to this site but I have been lurking here for several months.  I will start coming back more often as I have, after several years, finally finished my brick oven!  I used the plans from http://www.traditionaloven.com.  There were a few false starts and mis-steps along the way but I really like the finished product.  I have already hosted about a dozen pizza parties and everyone raves about both the pizza and the fun.  Personally, I think it's the fact we encourage everyone to toss dough and or build a pizza.

 

But now I want to start baking bread in my oven.  Baking pizza is pretty easy.  Get the oven rocket hot. When the char has burned off the inside of the dome,  start cooking.  But I feel like bread is a whole different animal.  Does anyone have any tips on heating up my oven for bread baking? 

 

From what I can tell, slowly is good and patience is important.  Allow more time than you think you will need for the heat to equalize when you pull the fire out.  Anything else I should look for?  Any tips, tricks, or tell tell signs would be welcome.

 

thanks!

6 comments

Great work kenc, I bake in an oven from Alan Scott plans, 6 by 8 feet sole.  I found the book 'Bread Builders' by Daniel Wing and Alan Scott invaluable for multiple examples of oven firing including details on wood type, quantity, timing and visual cues.

I fire from 10am the day before baking the first load at between 3 and 5am (depending on how many loads I've got to do, but just to indicate the timings.)  I use a big wheelbarrow load of any kind of untreated wood that will fit through the door of the oven (removed for firing).  I push the biggest bits to the back, about 1 third away from the back wall (I bake 4 days in a row and the oven retains a lot of heat between firings), with decreasing sizes as I lay the wood towards the front, where I make a classic kindling stack and light up.  The fire burns in a 'front' down to the back, turning the masonry form sooty black to fine white.  I replace the oven door when the thermocouple indicates the masonry 1 inch deep is about 410 degrees C, about 7pm.  The fire has burnt down to small coals.  After about 9 hours this temp is about 320 deg C and I rake out, scuffle and replace the door for hot spots to even out over the next half hour. Then I bake.

The bigger the bits of wood, and harder it is, the hotter the fire.  The slower the burn the more chance for heat to soak into the masonry, only to give back to the oven chamber for longer.  The more cool dough you load at once the more heat you lose(only to be expected, but take it into consideration).  The quicker you load the better for heat retention.  If you have lots of pine or cypress try to mix with some hard wood to burn cleaner overall.  You can bake at surprising high temps but there's not much you can do for burnt bottoms (bake on trays?), and if the crust appears dull and mottled I find the oven needed more equalisation time and a kinder temp!

By the way, after 2 years these things are still unpredictable for me and I have an anxious moment each night when I make the decision to finally replace the door...will it be hot enough? Will it be too hot? I'm worried because I sell the bread and have time constraints, but otherwise it's the BEST fun.

Thanks for the pic of your house. Is the oven inside there somewhere?

Seriously though, looks impressive. I made a cob oven -- smaller and simpler, but still fantastic for pizza. I don't bother with it for bread though, because it is too hard to get the temp right, as well as that I don't have time or wood to fire the oven every other day.

 

You must be so proud of it! I hope you'll share your initial experiences with breadbaking here.

I'm glad you asked ... I'd like to do that sometime in the not too far future too. Thanks, Lily! My oven is much smaller than yours (measuring 3.5 ft by 5.5 ft perimeter, baking hearth a tiny 2 ft by 3.5ft)...can I reckon the firing takes half the time or less?

Tks!


These are beautiful ovens TP and Kenc.  Do Use them - it's a nice gentle slow effort to fire and prepare and cook in the wood fired oven, I think. 

We have fired a couple of smaller ovens like yours TP for pizzas and, deciding to be bold at the time made fires proportionally smaller but yep I reckon ready in about 3 - 4 hours.  Not knowing the real temp, and not sure at all if this was the right way we just used the sign of a whitened interior as Kenc uses.  The owners were horrified at the size of the fires and we were secretly crossing our fingers that the thing wouldn't crack, but the owners later said it changed their approach entirely to a more confident one.  So maybe the wood needs to cover the sole leaving a gap around the perimetre, and a cold oven needs plenty of urging with dry kindling to get a nice bright orange flame..?

Thank you everyone for your kind words.  Yes, I'm proud of it.  Yes, it's large.  The area of the country I live in get a gracious plenty thunderstorms and one or two hurricanes a year.  Worse case, we can all go out and hang out under the oven  ;-)

 

Seriously, it does get warm.  The past two weeks have hovered around the upper 90's F and it's just too warm to heat up the oven in the house.  Last night, I made my first bread with my sourdough started.  I was pretty pleased with the results but the house got hot.  It was a great test run.  Now that I have some of the processes down, I will mix up some larger batches and bake in my outdoor oven this weekend.

 

I will try to remember to snap a few pics.

 

Thank you for all your tips on firing my oven.  I'm sure I will need them.

 

k.

 

 

We're going to let loose the pyromaniac in us this weekend. Tks, Lily.