The Wood-Fired Blog

The Forno Bravo Newsletter Is Out Today

We sent out the February 2014 FB Wood-Fired Newsletter today, which contained the new Roma commercial pizza oven (more to come on that), a Pizza Quest video, and the Winter 2014 (Snow!) photo competition. If you haven’t read your copy yet, check your inbox.

You can also find this month’s newsletter, and all the back issues by clicking Fornobravo.com/newsletter. You can sign up here (click the subscribe button):

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We hope you enjoy it.

Bread Photos. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

I’ve been baking bread for years and years. It was my baking and building hobbies that led me to start Forno Bravo in the first place (those many years ago). So I am happy to say that my baking has continued to improve of the past months, and that my bread is a lot better than it was 10 years ago.

Which doesn’t mean that I still don’t make a lot of mistakes, though I think it does mean that I at least understand what the mistake is when I see. Which is a big step in the right direction. Going ahead, I am going to start posting bread photos, along with a brief description of what went wrong, and how I think I can fix the mistake in the future.

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Here goes. This one came out pretty good. This is a 100% whole wheat sourdough loaf with 80% hydration, three builds and overnight, refrigerated fermentation. I brought the dough of oven refrigerator first thing in the morning, let is warm up, shaped my boule an let is proof at room temperature for about three hours. Timing sourdough is one of my biggest sources of mistakes, but retarded fermentation in the refrigerator (along with folding, yeah!) is the most important thing I have incorporated into my baking recently. It makes it a little bit easier to get the timing right, for not under-proofing or over-proofing by loaves, and when you get it right, the results a much better. The crumb is more mature, with better texture and better flavor, and the crust has better color, and a thick, chewy feel.

I still have a really long way to go — there are some incredible bread photos out there (which, of course, require really incredible bread to photograph in the first place), but for now I am happy that my bread is still improving. And that I haven’t hit a plateau yet.

Next up. Some mistakes, what went wrong, and how I have tried to avoid that problem in the future.

Winter 2014 Snow Pizza Oven Competition Photos

Hey all,

Here is the page with the first great photos of pizza ovens, snow and fire. Thanks for everyone’s submissions so far — we have some wonderful photos. But, I would not that we don’t have one of a person standing in the freezing cold making a great Pizza Napoletana. Click on the link below.

Winter 2014 Pizza Oven Photo Competition

This from me, sitting here in the low 70s and worrying about our drought.

Keep the photos coming!

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Snow, Snow, Snow. And Fire

We are getting some wonderful photos of snow, pizza ovens, and even some fire. And we have reports from the even hard core wood-fired chefs who have not used their ovens this winter for the first time ever. Ouch.

Keep the photos coming, and I will start posting them as they come in on www.fornobravo.com tomorrow!

Hang in there pizza oven lovers. Spring must be out there somewhere.

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Back to Bread; Folding

My bread baking skills are slowly improving, which is a good thing for all — for me and the family. I have learned a handful of new skills over the past few months, including temperature control, long (24 to 48 hour) fermentation, builds and folding.

On folding, I started baking when you were supposed to punch down the dough after the bulk fermentation. The idea was to push out some of the air holes and re-distribute the available food for the dough’s bacteria and yeast. But I always wondered why my higher hydration dough always sagged sideways and didn’t have the structure to rise properly. I would always tell myself that I need more gluten development, and that maybe I needed better flour.

Which brings me to folding. Folding re-distributes the nutrition in your dough, and releases the bigger air pockets, but it also gives your dough structure. It elongated and lines up the dough’s gluten strands to build strength. For the sourdough whole wheat rye that I have been making, I fold the dough 3-4 times at various points in the process. After mixing, every hour or so during bulk fermentation, etc.

There seem to be a number of different techniques, but I fold by bringing the top edge of the dough down to the bottom (while stretching it) and seal the seam. Then I turn it 90 degrees and stretch, fold, seal again. For a about six folds. It gets a little tighter each time.

After trying a lot of different techniques (letter fold, etc.) and a lot of experimenting, I read that your bread should have a consistent orientation during folding, where the same side basically faces up the entire time. Which, looking back, explains why I had a lot of inconsistent results with my random folding. Once I started to consistently fold, rotate, fold, and kept the same side of the dough pointing upward the entire process — from the count, to the proofing bowl, through shaping and into the oven — my loaves spring upward much better, and my wetter dough breads don’t just spill sideways.

Of course I have a lot more to learn.

Winter 2014 Photo Contest

We are ready to kick off the Winter 2014 Photo Contest. The basic rule is that anyone (who has a pizza oven) can play. Send us your photo at photos@fornobravo.com (any of our customer service email addresses will work), and we will post them as they come in at a special location on Forno Bravo Photos. Your photo does not need to be a new oven, but we would like a new photo if you have submitted a photo to us previously.

We will let everyone know each time we post new photos. Then, after a few weeks, we will vote internally for the semi-finalists, and post the six “best” photos on the Forno Bravo Forum, where you can vote for your favorite in an Internet poll. The photo with the most votes will win a Forno Bravo Got Wood? T-shirt, and the pride of winning this prestigious competition!

We have done a few photo competitions over the years, and they have been a lot of fun, and we have all get to enjoy some great pictures and be inspired for future outdoor kitchen and oven design project.

Here are a couple of links to some previous versions:

Winter 2012/13

Australian Summer 2011/12

Winter 2011/12

Let’s get started — we’re looking forward to hearing from you.

 

Back From a Break From Blogging

It’s been a while since I last blogged, and I have a ton of good stuff queued up to share with you. You might know that 2013 marked our 10th year at Forno Bravo, and we ended the year with a bang. 2013 was our biggest sales year ever, and it marked our 10th consecutive year of year-over-year growth. I’m really proud of that, and for all the people we have helped fall in love with the world of wood-fired cooking.

We have now been in our new factory for a little over a year, and we are getting more efficient all the time, and I am also happy to say that our quality and craftsmanship has never been better. I am a huge believer in continual improvement, and after 10 years of building the world’s best pizza oven, we are always getting better.

Looking forward, we have lots of fun things in the works that we will be sharing with you over the coming weeks and months, including new products, recipes and cloud-based services that we think will help you get more than ever out of your oven — or maybe become a happy owner of a wood-fired for for the first time. Stay tuned.

Out of the gate, we just posted a new series of great Pizza Oven Photos, something I really enjoy. We have some stunning ovens, and some nice snow shots. And some beautiful international ovens.

Speaking of snow, if you are getting hammered this winter, you have my condolences. Our daughter goes to college in Boston, and she has seen it all. Of course Forno Bravo is located in sunny Northern California, where (apparently) it never rains (and we are in a state of emergency). So to help everyone get through the final tough days of winter, we are going to have a Photo Contest. Details to come shortly, but I can say that we will be partial to snow photos in support of our friends in the central and eastern USA. (Sorry Australia).

In other news, I am still baking bread, almost daily, and my sourdough culture is alive and well. I’ve learned a great deal, that I want to share. Think of it as the confessions of a mediocre brad baker. Complete with photos taken from my phone.

And I am still running. Boston2BigSur is coming up in a couple of months (it will be my fifth), and I’m signed up for my second Ironman this summer, with a pretty unrealistic goal of qualifying for Kona in 2-3 years.

So there are lots of good things to look forward to, which for many of you, I know includes spring, and lots of wood-fired cooking!

Stay warm.