Meanwhile Back at the Wood Fired Oven
Okay the Arizona winter, if you can call it that, has ended. With my health problems cold is quite difficult for me, so I tend to stay inside when it’s cold out (ie; under 50°f). Anyway I’m back to the wood fired oven. I baked today and as usual it was a learning experience. This is what I learned today. If you are using a wood fired oven start with any soft wood that you have and move the fire around on the hearth. I start a fire at least 4 hours before I start baking. Next; in the last hour before you are going to start baking change your fuel to hardwood. For me, that means Mesquite, in other parts of the country that might mean oak, or pecan. I’ve been burning my hardwood down to coals about the size of pool balls and then shoveling them out and cleaning the oven and baking.
Today I discovered that I should burn the coals, which I spread over the entire hearth to keep the heat constant, down to ash. Then I should wait about 20 minutes and check the oven for heat. I do this by tossing a handful of corn meal onto the clean hearth.
If it burns after a few minutes the oven is too hot. I wait about 20 minutes and check again. When the cornmeal turns brown after a few minutes the oven is ready. I set a soaking wet kitchen towel over the door hanging on the inside of the door and slide my bread in. I’ve sliced the tops of my dough with a razor and I set a pan inside filled with water. Right before I close the door I spray the inside with a water bottle to raise the steam level inside. This insures a crisp crust.
I’m baking the loaves about 18 minutes or until they are caramel brown and have reached an internal temperature of 212°f. This is an ongoing process and I look forward to your thoughts, comments and questions.
Mad Coyote Joe