Second try at baking in my new cob oven

shasta's picture

Today I made my second attempt at baking bread in my new cob oven. I was really happy with the results!
I really wanted to expirement so I made four loaves using three starters. Last weekend I revived some Carl Griffith 1847 starter that I had dried and stored for nearly 2.5 years. I was surprised when it came right back after two feedings!!

For my two loaves I used my regular starter and made my regular recipe for sourdough but used rye flour for 5% of the total flour.
For one loaf I used the 1847 starter and made a 20% rye loaf.
For the fourth loaf I used my Australian starter and added 20% of the spelt flour I received from Australia.

All of the loaves ended up proofing for three hours out of the fridge because I had to wait a little longer for the oven to cool to baking range.

Here ar the four loaves in the oven after 17 min.

I really made an attempt to get more steam n the oven for this bake. The loaves were bigger, I sprayed water in the oven just before placing the door on and placed a damp towel around the door. All of this seemed to pay off.

The first loaf that was ready to come out was the 20% rye made with the 1847 starter.

Second out was one of the 5% rye loaves with my usual starter.

Shortly after I pulled the 20% spelt loaf with the Australian starter and spelt flour.

Last out was the second 5% rye with my regular starter. It was closest to the door so I gave it a little longer. I almost went too long with it.

This is a shot of all four along with the pizza peel I trimmed down for use in the oven with bread loaves.

Of the four loaves, we are keeping the Australian Spelt loaf. Here is a shot of the crumb. The other three loaves are going to neighbors.

The taste of this loaf is fantastic!

I'm really happy with how the oven performed today! I might have been able to get another loaf in the oven and the temps held well enough that I think I could have made two batches. That would give me a capacity of ten full size loaves in one session! Not bad for a little Earth oven! If I had room for that many loaves in my fridge I might give it a try sometime but I think I'll be limited to 4 or 5 loaves for now. :)

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Chef Annie's picture
Chef Annie 2013 November 18

I had my first attempt to bake in my brother-in-law's oven yesterday, it didn't turn out good.   The oven was outdoor the whole winter with no undercover so it didn't hold the ideal baking temperature for long.  We burnt the oven to 500C then as soon as we scrapped all the coals, the crown was about 280C and it started to drop very quickly after I loaded 4 loaves.  Like you, I spray the dough on the peel before I load it in to the oven and I did cover the door with a dam towel. After 15 minutes, I took a peek and the loaves looked fantastic.  I then measure the crown again, it was only 240C so I have to keep the door close for another 35 minutes.  The loaves were lightly browned so I just kept the door close for another 15 minutes.  The crust was good but the bottom was still not browned at all.  I have to bring them in to brown them in the electric oven.  I think we need to dry the oven out a few days before we use it again next time.  The oven may be quite damp after a long time unused, especially we have quite a wet winter this year.

Your bake look fantastic.  I love the blisters and all scoring patterns!

Thank you so much for sharing your bake and happy baking.


shasta's picture
shasta 2013 November 18

Hello Annie,

Thanks for the comments!

Yeah, I can see that wet weather could slow things down. Before my oven was completly dry after construction, it didn't hold the heat well either. 

When heating my oven today, I fired it for nearly three hours. The crown was over 538C and the floor was around 371C when I pulled the coals.

I allowed the oven to cool to around 246C when I put the loaves on. It held the heat well enough so that I could have done a second batch.

A couple of drying fires over a few days might help you get the oven ready for baking.

Good luck on your nex try!



108 breads's picture
108 breads 2013 November 19

It would be fun to come over with some dough and bake it in such a fine oven. You are feeding the fantasy of building such an oven in my own backyard, though the fear of fire and a complete lack of construction skills have so far kept the reality of such a project at bay. Happy bread baking!

shasta's picture
shasta 2013 November 19

Thanks for the comments.

You should give it a try. Building an oven is not as hard as it might seem. The best book is by Kiko Denzer called Build Your Own Earth Oven.

farinam's picture
farinam 2013 November 19

Hi Shasta,

Another nice batch.

I gather the way to really utilise a WFO is to do something like pizza first while to oven is hottest.  This fills in the time for the oven to cool for bread.  I've got a feeling that there is something else that can be done while hot but can't remember at the moment. 

After the bread, you can do cakes, casseroles and so on as the oven cools right down to yogurt using the last of the warmth.

Just requires a bit of organisation - or rope in the neighbours to do some of the preparation.

A few pale ales or glasses of vino would help to pass the time.

I'm almost sufficiently inspired to give it a go.

Good luck with your projects.


shasta's picture
shasta 2013 November 20

You're right, the ability of these oven is only limited to your imagination and ability to organize you baking session. 

shasta's picture
shasta 2013 November 25

Having used the oven for baking pizza and bread, I thought it was time tosee what else the oven could cook.

First I built a nice fire and placed firebricks on both sides.

Next I placed a cast iron cooking grate from my bbq on the bricks to preheat.

Next I started to move the coals ot to the sides and but a nice tri-tip steak on to sear both sides.


With the coals moved to the side, the tri-tip finished cooking with indirect heat from the burning wood and coals.


The finished product cooked a little longer than I like but was still very nice!

It will take some practice but this oven can deliver!


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