Last week my old friend, Bill Payne made a new door for the bread oven. It is made out of plate steel with a hole centered at about 3 inches up from the bottom. The hole is round and about 3 ½ inches across. It is just large enough for the nozzle of a roofing torch to fit through and has two vents on the bottom at the outer sides. These work, both as exhaust vents and they create legs of a sort, that will help the door to stand by itself. I made the door to allow me to do a second baking as the oven was lousing heat after the first bake.
From that time I have figured out a few things. I believe that I could simply seal the door and the one-ton plus mass would have a thermal shift that would raise the oven temp back up the 50°f or so lost in the first bake. However the new door can reheat the surface of the hearth back up to baking temp in about 5 minutes. So all is well on that front.
Next I have several customers that are questioning the hardness of the crust. This is tough… er… so to speak! In my next baking I’m going to use less wood and start baking at a lower temperature; around 470°f. I have been doing my first bake as soon as the oven temp would drop enough, to not burn the cornmeal that I toss on the hearth floor, which is around 500°f -525°f. What I think is going on is, I’m baking at too high of a temp and the crust is forming fast and very hard. The center of the loaf is then restricted in the initial rise.
I’m getting beautiful ears on the loaves and a distinct sponge. But the sponge is very tight and I’m not finding the shine on the inside on the sponge bubbles and the loaf has some additional weight and density. At a lower temp I think the bread will rise and then develop, a lighter dough with a slightly thinner crust. Everyone is pleased with the flavor except one person asked for a stronger “sour” flavor.
I think I’m very close to “World Class” bread and I’ willing to listen and try figure out which is best. With each new bake I learn more about this beautiful oven and the art of turning flour, salt and water into bread that makes people very happy. In closing today I’d like to thank those that are buying bread from us the money is enough to keep this project going.