The new thermometer is making easy work of the bread oven. In the past I have over-fired the oven. I’ve burned it too long and with too much wood, so that is has got too hot. This has meant that pizzas are done in 5 minutes and over-done in 5 minutes and 28 seconds. Which is a fairly critical difference since it takes at least 28 seconds for me to get the door off and fish out the pan.

Today I tried out the thermometer for the first time. I fired the oven with some kindling, a few two-inch diameter small logs and two average sized pieces of birch firewood, burning for a total of about an hour and three-quarters. Then I raked out any of the bigger coals and pushed the small ones to the edge of the oven (thanks for the tip, Jacinda!) and threw in the first pizza.

The first pizza went in at 350ºC (650ºF) and took about 8 minutes.
The next pizza went in at 270ºC (520ºF) and took about 11 minutes.
The bread went in at around 230ºC (450ºF) and took about 25 minutes.
The lentil dal bake went in at around 180ºC (350ºF) and I’ll leave it for three or four hours.

Today’s breads are a whole wheat and khorasan blended yogourt bread on the right and a honey-garlic wheat bread on the left. I’m getting very adventurous with my bread-making recipes these days, just winging things with a rough formula of:

1 cup liquid
1 Tbsp. oil or butter
1 Tbsp. sugary stuff
1 tsp. salt, and
1 tsp. yeast

per loaf of bread, plus some combination of flours to make a dough that feels right when kneaded. I supplement with a bit of gluten flour if I’m using predominantly low-gluten flours (i.e. spelt, corn meal, oats or khorasan). And I make other adjustments, too, sometimes adding an egg or two, or using cottage cheese as a liquid and bumping up the volume, or increasing the sweetener, or adding seeds or herbs or nuts or dried fruit. I’m either developing some skill at this, or have been lucky recently, or else (more than likely) the oven enacts some sort of magic, because my loaves have been turning out beautifully almost no matter what oddities I throw into the mixing bowl.

We’ve just received the first half of our grain CSA order, so I am inspired on all fronts these days. The khorasan (a.k.a. Kamut®) is new to the CSA this year, our bin of hard spring wheat has been replenished, and I’m looking forward to getting more spelt and some heritage Canadian Red Fife wheat when the second half of our share rolls in in a couple of weeks.

The magic oven

3 thoughts on “The magic oven

  • November 13, 2010 at 7:50 am


    The bread looks awesome!!! Like with everything there is trail and error and it seems like you have started to master the cob oven. Do you put the loaves in pans and then into the oven or just put the loaves into the oven??
    I am considering getting some of the grain etc from the CSA next year, its not like I live as far away as you do!!
    Anyway that bread looks yummy and I think thats what I will do tomorrow make some bread and cinnamon buns.
    Enjoy the oven!

  • November 13, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    Wow, beautiful looking bread.
    CSA is just starting to take off here in NZ. We grow a lot of our own veges but a grain CSA sounds fantastic.
    Enjoy the bread magic while it lasts!

  • November 15, 2010 at 8:19 am

    Great looking loaves!

    How great that you have a local CSA that includes that – we used to be able to find local wheatberries and oats, but not anymore. Would love that!

Comments are closed.