Retained Heat Cooking

Use the heat retained in your oven dome and floor to bake and roast at lower, more traditional temperatures. To bake bread, or roast meats and vegetables, bring your oven to full heat (750F; it should take about an hour or so), then let your fire die out and rake out your coals. Close your oven door to hold in the heat, and to let your oven settle and regulate.

If you want to bake or roast for longer periods of time, you should fire your oven longer. Remember, your oven is a "reservoir" of heat, where the thermal mass of your oven absorbs the heat of the fire, and holds that heat for cooking. The more heat you put in, the more you can take out. Baking and roasting (and heat loss through the open door) take heat of out your oven, so if you want to roast a large meal, or bake lots of bread, you have to first "put" enough heat in your oven with a longer firing.

Conversely, if you only want to roast a chicken, or bake a couple of loaves of bread or focaccia, you can cut back on your firing time. Just bring your oven up to heat heat (30-45 minutes), and quickly let the temperature settle. You will burn less wood, and your oven will be ready sooner -- though it will give up its heat more quickly and not cook as long (there's nothing worse than pink chicken).

After about an hour from full heat, your oven temperature will fall to roughly 550F, where you can cook a wide range of dishes. Check our Oven Management pages for the best ways to gauge your oven temperature (including the Forno Bravo Mississippi counting method). You can also buy an Infrared Thermometer to more accurately monitor the oven temperature. Your oven will then take hours gracefully falling from 550F to 300F, giving you time to bake multiple batches of bread, roast a turkey or bake wonderful casseroles, gratin dishes, rice, beans, soups, stews, and roast potatoes.

Remember that in Medieval times, the heat in a communal oven was valuable, and the locals would have to pay the Lord for use of a hot oven. In many rural communities to this day, bakeries throw open their ovens so that locals can bake their bread, or their Paella, using retained heat.

Enjoy your oven and the wonderful food it can bake.

Here are some guidelines for various dishes and their recommended temperatures:

550F Roast chicken (use foil), baguettes, Schiaciatta, fast roast potatoes (in stainless pan), turkey (use foil), cecina, roast fish, lentils, ratatouille, chicken fricassee, coq a vin,
500F Turkey roll, roast chicken, chicken Diavolo (butterflied on a Tuscan Grill),
450F Pugliese, focaccia (in a baking sheet), roast potatoes (in a terracotta pan), roast vegetables (fennel, radicchio, leeks), vegetable and potato gratins,
400F Leg of lamb, beef roast, heavier rustic breads
350F White beans, ribollita, gnocchi, penne alla Romana, lasagna, soups, stews, scones, fresh pork

To the Forno Bravo Recipe Index.


Cecina; chickpea pizza.

Salmon with honey.