Saturday, April 17, 2010

Re-igniting the love of baking

From electric breadmaker to woodfired oven in one post! I had no idea this would happen. It's been sooo long since our woodfired oven has been in use, I just couldn't stand it any longer...it was time to ignite it from within!

I want to put down how my day goes when the oven is going. Ideally, the day would've been planned a few days in advance, at least two, to decide what to make, gather ingredients and start any bread doughs that take more than one day to prepare. Of course, as it was a spontaneous decision, none of that actually took place. This is how it happened:

8:00am - woke, lay in bed dreaming of warm, crusty woodfired oven bread.

8:05am - a thought, "what's stopping me?" The day was beautiful, we had a plentiful supply of dry firewood, a new 5kg bag of bread flour in the pantry plus I had just had a pretty good night's sleep. What better opportunity would I ever possibly have? I lept out of bed, dressed and planned the bake over breakfast. Time was taken to sit still and relax over a cup of tea. Once the oven is on, there isn't much relaxing going on. Don't believe me? Read on...

9:00am - Lit the fire in the oven with newspaper and dry kindling. Gum tree branches are my kindling of choice. I love the crackle of the gum leaves as they ignite. As the fire took off, larger pieces of wood were added. During this time I also fed the ducks and chooks and brought up another wheelbarrow of firewood from our wood heap.

9:30am - Went inside to prepare dough. First a big batch of bread dough was made using 3kg of flour. This was really hard work to knead as my arms don't have all that much muscle (a fact!). I would LOVE a machine to do this for me, but it's not happening any time soon, so arms it has to be.

9:50am - placed ingredients for another batch of dough (this time much smaller, only 500g flour) into the breadmachine and selected 'dough' setting. While this was working away, I kept on kneading the gi-normous ball of dough I had in front of me.

10:20am - Stopped kneading that hugely, unmanageable ball of dough and divided it into two bowls to rise. Time to check the fire and add more wood. A visitor called in here, and what perfect timing really, when I stop and think about it!

11am - Another small batch of dough mixed together (500g flour), and placed in a bowl outside in the sun to rise, this one is for our lunchtime pizzas. More stoking of the fire.

11:30am - Knocked down doughs and shaped. This was way to early in hindsight, as today I was racing against the yeast to get the oven to the correct temperature. Better to slightly underprove and slash deeply, than to have puffy loaves flopping about all over the place. More stoking of the fire.

12:00pm - doughs leaping out of bread pans and the oven is no where near hot enough to even think about baking. Bugger! I did not plan this well. I started pulling things out of the fridge to make space to put the doughs in...to try and slow down the super fast yeasties. Big logs were added to the oven. Pizzas were rolled out and topped. The fire was pushed to the back of the oven and the floor swept free of ash. The pizzas were baked.

Baking 'nude' - that is, no tray

12:30pm - pizzas (x2) served. Sat down with the family outside to gobble them up. Coals spread over oven floor to distribute an even heat.

12:50pm - coals removed from oven and the floor swept. Door put on for 15 minutes or so to regulate temperature.

1:10pm - the flour sprinkle test - sprinkled some flour on the floor of oven to see how long it takes to brown. It took several seconds for it to brown so the bread doughs were placed in. A light misting with a water spray bottle and the oven door was wedged into position. The timer set for 20 minutes then it was inside to clear up dishes and prepare a cake mixture.

1:30 - Some breads ready, others needing to stay in for another 10 minutes or so.

1:45 - the oven is dropping temperature now, the cake goes in (on a cooling rack to lift it off the bricks) and the other breads come out.

By 2:00pm, pretty much everything is done, except the cake which has no chance of burning in the rapidly cooling oven. We have a roast beef planned for dinner, which will go in around 3pm and if needed a small fire lit again to keep the heat up.

More to follow: bread pics and recipes...

Half and half - Margharita and Margharita with sausage, fennel and chilli

6 comments:

  1. What a wonderful day. Your baking went better than mine did today...

    See you over at D2E

    Karyn

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  2. Oh mmmmm...I can smell the bread and pizza cooking from here ..lol
    Wish I had a woodfired oven....might get Daryl to make me a little wheelbarrow one :0)

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  3. Yes Tammy, lol!

    Karyn, your day brought a smile out in me, don't we all have days like that?!

    Debbie, a little wheelbarrow one sounds just perfect :0)

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  4. Wow that looks sensational! I have been lusting after a wood fired oven for about 5 years now....just can't convince my husband to put one in the backyard for me. It is so nice to read about your day of baking - thanks!

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  5. You're welcome, spiceandmore. It was such a fun project to build and I'm really glad we completed it. Besides producing food that has 'something extra' tastewise, I just get so much joy out of looking at it..through the kitchen window..out in the garden...or even driving up the road, lol!

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Hi there, so nice of you to stop by! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, I love hearing what you are up to. Christine x

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