Companion Bakery Webcam

Our bakery's web cam is now operational. I am hoping this becomes a place to chat with the baker as they work the dough and fire the oven. Baker's are busy but lonely souls, please talk to us.

Webcam loading...

Live Bakery Temperatures

Oven Crown Bricks - Provides an important indication of live oven temperature. Oven air temperature is approximately 35C less than crown brick temperature (on a baking - not firing - oven)

Oven Crown Cladding - Indicates stored heat in the concrete and perlite layer immediately behind the crown bricks. Shows how much 'charge' is in the oven.

Ambient Room - Bakery room (air) temperature at the dough bench. Dough is mixed, scaled, balled and shaped at this temperature

Proving Trolley - Mobile proving cabinet. Batards and other banneton loaves are risen here. The baker moves the trolley between different temperature zones to control fermentation

Visit the Companion Bakery website
Please note that we are closed Monday (Australian time).


Old Possum's picture
Old Possum 2012 May 7

and when I rebooted my laptop and reconnected this page loaded with the following error message:

Webpage error details

User Agent: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 8.0; Windows NT 5.1; Trident/4.0; .NET CLR 1.1.4322; .NET CLR 3.0.04506.30; .NET CLR 3.0.4506.2152; .NET CLR 3.5.30729; MDDS; Zune 4.7; .NET CLR 2.0.50727; BRI/2)
Timestamp: Sun, 6 May 2012 23:54:10 UTC

Message: 'console' is undefined
Line: 2258
Char: 5
Code: 0

Don't know if this can help Maedi. I don't have a temperature graph in IE but it's showing in Firefox but the camera is stuck at 9:17 in both browsers.

Graham's picture
Graham 2012 May 7

Thanks Old Possum. I have sent Maedi a text about this, he might not get a chance to look until later tonight due to work commitments. No problem for me viewing graph in Chrome, but both graph and camera frozen at 9:17 same as you. Graham

Graham's picture
Graham 2012 May 7

Put 34 loaves of pumpernickel in at 14.45 today. Oven crown bricks were reading 152C when they went in (about 120C air temp). I am hoping for a 20C fall over the next 16 - 20 hours.

Graham's picture
Graham 2012 May 7

HI Old Posssum. We start our baking week tomorrow (Tuesday) but the first day is only mixing, shaping, proving. The bread we shape tomorrow is baked the following morning (Wednesday), between 6am and 10am. Our oven will be fired tomorrow from 10 am, immediately after the pupernickel are removed. The first firing of the week is a long one; coals will be removed about 7pm tomorrow, and have nearly 12 hours to settle overnight before we bake the next day.

PiPs 2012 May 8

Hey guys,

Thanks for the fantastic idea of the temperature graph. Fascinating.


Graham's picture
Graham 2012 May 9

There are 6 thermocouples in total.

All were installed during construction 3 years ago and I added a data logger to two of these about 6 months ago. The logger is configured to send the baker a text message when the oven crown bricks fall to 286C, which gives us time to clean the oven prior to baking at 280C or lower (air temp is about 35C lower than this).

I need to dig out some photos to remind myself of exactly where the thermocouples are installed. I'll post them here. All the thermocuouples give a digital read-out on a display at the oven, but only two are connected to the data logger because each logger costs about $250 and I can't justify connecting every one.

The two oven temps above are the most important, one giving live heat and the other stored heat. Another important thermocouple is installed in the sole bricks, which is helpful if you are forced to bake on a hot sole and don't want to burn the bottom of your bread (on our oven, sole bricks above 300C can scorch the bottom of bread).

We rarely look at sole temp because the coals are usually scraped out at least 6 hours before we bake, providing plenty of cooling time.

A few months back I installed a muffler exhaust gas probe in the front right wing of the oven. Once connected, this will measure air temperature via a data logger and appear in the graph above.


Ruwan colombage 2012 May 9

 Hi I have tried to see the live video but I see the same frame no movement , its 9.30 pm melbourne and I am too early to watch 

please advice 



Graham's picture
Graham 2012 May 10

Hi Ruwan. The camera currently delivers a still frame to this page about every 10 seconds. Thus it doesn't look like video, but a series of stills. At Companion Bakery we prefer not to work at night, except on Sunday morning from midnight to 5am when we bake for a farmer's market. We usually scrape out the oven coals in the evening, but this only takes a is easily missed.

Graham's picture
Graham 2012 May 10

There is now enough data on the temperature graph to show how the stored heat in the oven cladding regulates the live oven temperture (crown brick temperature).

Crown brick temp (red line) descends steeply after the fire is removed. However the rapid decent is moderated as it crosses the green line (temperature of stored heat in the cladding behind the crown bricks). 

Stored heat is therefore the most critical temperature to look at during firing as it determines when the oven will stabilise after firing, and the capacity of the oven chamber to hold heat during the baking session.

Typical oven cycle for Companion Bakery's wood fired oven

Trapper valley 2012 May 13

Hi Graham, This webcam/ temp guide has to be one of the most engaging forms of information available in relation to bread available. (That I have found at least)

I am a baker from Melbourne and find what you have done to be a great asset and inspiration to anyone wishing to find out just what it takes to make great bread. I hope to get down to companion to try some of your bread as it would be a shame not to.

I have not read all the Companion posts as yet so forgive me if there are silly questions. You said you built the oven Three years ago, Is it an Alan Scott oven? Also how many batches do you get our of a firing?



Graham's picture
Graham 2012 May 14

Hi Trapper, thank you for the compliments re webcam / temp graph, which my son Maedi is responsible for getting to show on this page.

Yes it is a 6ft x 8ft Alan Scott oven.

The amount of batches depends on how much heat we push in to the oven mass. We rarely push our oven to extremes as our bakes are completed by only one baker. That baker is responsible for everything, including firing the oven, mixing, shaping, monitoring all proofing stages and baking.

Considering this workload, we usually do not bake more than 150 units per baking cycle. Our oven can easily bake this many units in 2 - 3 ovens, depending on how many freeform (up to 60 loaves per oven) and tinned loaves (up to 100 - 120 loaves per oven). We also bake pide and other specialty breads which require larger areas of oven space.

Pides and other flat breads would usually go into the first oven at (crown brick temps, subtract 35C for air temp) 290C (15min), then batards at 270C (with current, low falling number flour) (45min), tinned loaves at 250C (one hour). Sometimes we have 2 ovens of batards, in which case the 2nd oven of batards (at 250) will take 50 minutes or so.

Baking standard bread styles is comfortable down to 180C air temp, which is about 215C crown brick temperature. Batards take 90 minutes or so finishing at that temperature. It takes 5 or 6 batches to bring the oven down to 180C air temp in one session, depending on firing method, the weight of dough or if tins are used.

Then there is pumpernickel that is baked at 120C - 100C...

I have heard of a record-seeking baker in the US that did 12 batches in a similar oven. That may not have been sourdough...yeasted breads take less baking.


Trapper valley 2012 May 14

It sounds like a really fun job for your one baker. It is one thing to be a mixer, on the bench or on the oven but to do all the work is a blessing (a tough blessing) But you get to see the whole movement of the breads cycle. Something I cherish, and get to see most days.

How do you find the second batch of batards compared to the first batch done at a higher temp? Is there a noticable difference in the crust depth or moisture retention? or is it much of a muchness? 

Also I read up on your pumpernickel, and the link. very interesting.

Thanks again for the info. Your son has done a great thing.


Graham's picture
Graham 2012 May 15

Our 'single baker' shift is possible because the baker works the oven while they mix dough's. We usually only have 2 - 3 dough's to mix, and most day's there are 2 oven batches to look after.

The pace is certainly not stressful compared to industry bakeries that i have worked in. The biggest stress is having to 'live' is never at the same rate  as we work mostly with ambient temperatures. Oven management can be achieved within a standard shift, but the baker also has the option of monitoring / managing the oven whenever they want...which they often do because they care.

I would say that the way our baker works is as close as you can get to being a baker pre industrial controls. It is a mind game that eventually evolves into intuition, as I'm sure you would know about being a baker yourself.

Baking batards in a lower oven? This is often my preference. Many bakers like the challenge of baking at high temperature. Some blokes are reactive against lower temperatures (like it is a threat to their manhood or something!). Infact low, or at least moderate temperatures produce better bread that is more thouroughly baked and will keep better than an underbaked loaf.

I still love the first batch of batards at 250C (air) / 40 - 45 mins. They look great (contrasty...touch of fire...moist inside) but to me they don't have the integrity of a batard baked at 220 (air) / 1 hour, or 200 / 80 mins, etc. It actually takes more skill to work at these lower temps...producing a loaf that is not too dry, the upper crust is not too thick (reduce steam) and the bottom crust is not too tough (or burnt!).

BTW Cynthia is working with a potential new baker today and over the coming weeks...


shasta's picture
shasta 2012 May 15

Hello Graham,


Today was my first time watching activities the bakery. I enjoyed watching the progression of the loaves. I'm looking forward to watching some baking tomorrow.  I'm in N. California and have been into SD baking for about a year and a half. It's great to see some familiar processes that I do at  home in a professional setting. Thanks to you and your workers for sharing what you do with everyone!

I'm curious as to how you manage your starer on days that you don't bake. Do you have any wasting of starter on those days? Also, do you have more than one culture that you use or are all you loaves from one mother?


Thanks again for sharing.



Graham's picture
Graham 2012 May 15

Hi Shasta,

Our starter is simply stiffened up with more flour (like Plasticine) and cooled when we aren't using it. I call this a 'starter ball' because that is what it is. In this form the starter is 'stage 1', and it is usually used later to inoculate a warm, 100% hydration mixture (which becomes the new, or 'stage 2' starter).

The starter ball is like the chef / mother, but those terms were not a part of the way I I rarely use them. We usually have one starter ball for wheat, and one for spelt. I would usually make a rye stage 2 for rye bread.

When properly prepared (contains an appropriate amount of active cultures) you can keep a starter ball for several days in cool conditions and then use it directly in the bread dough (without going to stage 2). This is not recommended but we have been forced to do this in the past and the results were better than acceptable.

After 2 or 3 days the starter ball should go through a stage 2 fermentation to recover enough activity for our expectations, but i have no doubt that the ball could be used directly in dark rye or similar 'heavy' bread for 2 weeks.

After 2 or 3 months...well then a stage 3 would be required to be confident, or even a stage 4 if further 'proof' was required.


shasta's picture
shasta 2012 May 15

Thanks Graham for the information on the starters you use. Using the "starter balls" as you do sounds efficient and looks like it serves you well.

I enjoyed watching the ladies forming the loaves yesterday but it was a little hard following their technique. Any chance that you could get a YouTube video of Cynthia demonstrating how she forms the diff rent loaves? It seemed so effortless and simple for her to form them which is a tribute to her skill. It was also nice to see that they both really seemed to enjoy the work. The web cam is a great idea. It's great that you all let us watch you at work.





Graham's picture
Graham 2012 May 16

Cynthia is going back to her travels soon, so thanks for the suggestion re video. I'll try to get some footage of Cynthia before she goes. It will be a good momento. Graham 

Old Possum's picture
Old Possum 2012 May 18

Hi Graham - could we include pictures of slashing? I always seem to miss this. I love the way that Cynthia's shaping produces an evenly shaped loaf which is better for sandwiches. I've learned a lot, particularly today when you are both teaching and everything is slower.

Moohie 2012 May 17

 Hi Graham, thanks for such a fantastic website! I also enjoy watching Cynthia at work, so does my 11 year old daughter. We often check the webcam to see what's going on. Our internet connection is a bit slow, so it's a bit stilted - still fascinating to watch though.

I'm a relative newbie to sourdough baking, only been at it a few months, but I am so hooked on it (which is odd considering I actually don't like cooking very much at all!) Like Shasta I would love to see some video of Cynthia shaping, I've watched a few different YouTube clips on shaping but I am still having a bit of difficulty getting it right. Thanks again for such a great resource! Cheers, Maree
Robear 2012 May 19

I too would love to see some videos of Cynthia shaping and slashing.


As an aside, where is Cynthia travelling too next? What a great way to see the world!

Graham's picture
Graham 2012 May 21

Cynthia is travelling to a mountain region on China's east coast to work out with some warrior monks. Then back to France after a month i think. Back in Australia around September...

cannyfradock 2012 May 25

 Hello Graham.

I would just like to thank you for setting up this live web-cam. We are a group of baking enthusiasts within a Wood-fired oven forum in the UK.

 We have only just come across you live webcam and are trying to get to grips with the time difference (it's 00.20am by you and it's 20 past 3 yesterday us...if that makes sense)

 Looking forward to seeing more sourdough makin and bakin. the oven.

Graham's picture
Graham 2012 May 26

Thank you for the compliment Terry, very glad you are enjoying the cam. Tell us more about your oven group. Is your forum online? Graham

Robear 2012 June 2

Watching this webcam is addictive!


I dial in at 0700, have a quick check and its all happening. I then find myself carrying the tablet with me as I go to the kitchen to make my coffee and toast so I dont miss anything.

Cynthia and her assistant this week (what's her name by the way) sure do work hard. I'm new to this site so its wonderful to have so many resources in the quest for a good loaf.

Robear 2012 June 2

Farewell Cynthia.


Loved watching your work. Having lived and worked in France for a couple of years I have a great affinity for anything French. Happy travels!

Old Possum's picture
Old Possum 2012 June 2

I've thoroughly enjoyed watching you bake and I've learned a lot. Enjoy your journey to China and back home and look I forward to seeing you back in Oz later this year. When you come back to Oatlands wave at the camera so we can say hello. Good luck with your travelling!

shasta's picture
shasta 2012 June 3

Goodbye Cynthia! Safe and happy journeys and thank you for allowing us to observe you making SD baking look so easy!

Robear 2012 June 6

Just a question on the oven?

After the oven is fired how do you get all the coals and ash out so no little bits of ash get on the bread?

Graham's picture
Graham 2012 June 12

We use a rake, smooth side down, to scrape out any coals into the ash pit. The ash pit is directly in front of the oven door. Ash is scraped out as soon as the firing is complete. Some fine ash remains....which 'scuffled' out using a damp rag on the end of a 3 metre handle shortly before baking commences.

Sometimes we let the fire fully burn down until only fine ash remains. This is very satisfying because it feels like you are getting all the energy the wood can provide. Plus there are no coals to scape out...only a quick scuffle is required.

Robear 2012 June 15

 Maybe we can start a petition!


Come back Cynthia!


Forget all those warrior monks in China and get back to the real action in Oatlands. I mean, once you've seen one warrior monk you've seen 'em all.

Graham's picture
Graham 2012 June 21

our new baker could have got there. I just don't have the resources to train past a certain point...

bazz1949 2012 June 30

Graham. great idea this web cam and cetainly fun seeing people at work. Pity you are shy of the camera as it would be good to watch you forming the loaves for the banettons.

First use of the banettons that you sent me was this morning and I am impressed with the difference it has made to my loaves.



Graham's picture
Graham 2012 June 30

It's not that I'm shy. I try to open up a few angles to camera when shaping, but must not have quite got it right yet. We are going to shoot some more video over the next 2 weeks and hopefully that will show a bit more. Graham

lasmi 2012 July 6

Who's with you today Graham? I saw two weeks ago that you had a class, which was terrific to watch. I hope to be there one day myself. Thanks so much for the webcam - my whole family enjoy watching your work.


Graham's picture
Graham 2012 July 8

That was a group of bakers from South Australia and Victoria. They were in Tasmania to judge a baking competition and decided to drop in at our bakery and say hi. I gave them a coffee and that was enough to keep them busy scaling and shaping dough for a couple of hours. Very nice folk.   


Bakers from BAA visit Companion Bakery, July 6 2012                   

franc.castella.romeu 2012 July 21

Hello Graham,

just a few weeks a go I see in the temperature log some strange thinks, like a resets or errors of lecture of the thermocouples, what do you think? just now I`m building new oven and I`m thinking how install a thermocouples, for in case of failure replace without problems. How are your thermocouples? fix? can replace it?



Graham's picture
Graham 2012 July 21

We have also noticed that the temperature drops to 0C on occasions. This was not something we observed before the data senders were installed...and at first I thought it was a data sender issue (low battery or network fault). However now I think a thermocouple issue is more likely, as you suggest.

Dropouts are short and we will probably re-code the temperature graph to ignore readings of 0C. This will solve the readout anomaly.

I'll put some pics up showing the location of the two main thermocouples (oven crown and oven cladding). The oven cladding probe would be fairly easy to replace as it is located under a metre of kitty litter (vermiculite). The crown brick probe is buried in concrete...not so easy to get at...but accessible with the right tools and patience (edit. on second thought i would probably drill a new hole for a new crown brick probe, rather than replace or repair it).

I think the probes are reliable enough at present and should give many years of service.

Graham's picture
Graham 2012 July 21


Oven crown bricks

location of probe in oven crown bricks



Oven crown cladding (probe location just visible in front of chimney)

oven crown cladding - probe location is just visible



Close up of probe location in oven crown cladding

close up of probe location in oven crown cladding

Graham's picture
Graham 2012 July 22

NO probs franc!

BTW great to see your blog on your oven under already looks like a quality job.

After reviewing the the temperature dropouts on 11 and 18 August, it has become clear that the probes are not to blame.

This is because in all 12 dropout cases, all 4 probe readings dropped to 0C simultaneously (with the exception of one reading, which is probably explainable). 

I am now thinking that the base station (receives data from wireless senders) may be compromised by mains power spikes or RF interference from an adjacent wireless router. Later this week I will re-locate the base station and also try to get my hands on one of those budget power purifying units. Hopefully this will fix it. graham


franc.castella.romeu 2012 July 22

Seeing your pics another time I observe the concrete cladding it`s build in 2 times, before the side walls, and after the top, it`s right or it`s made in 1 time?


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