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Firing just for bread - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community

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Firing just for bread

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  • Firing just for bread

    Just wondering what everyone is doing when firing just for bread?

    I understand that the common practice is to use residual heat from the previous evening after a pizza fire, but what if I want to fire it in the morning for bread baking that same morning?

    I assume I just fire as normal, at least 2 hours ahead I suppose, let the wood burn down and rake it out?

    Any tricks for this?

  • #2
    Re: Firing just for bread

    You will need to play with your own oven to determine amount of wood and time required; but for me the key is a even saturation of heat and I usually build a low to medium fire for 2 - 3 hours, That way the heat gets deep into the bricks and gives me a good bake. If I go for the real hot fire it tends to make the surface of the bricks hot but I cannot maintain heat for 2 - 3 bread loads.

    The longer lower temp gets me to the 500F range and gives me a deep penetration of heat into the brick; or so it seems.

    Chip
    Chip

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    • #3
      Re: Firing just for bread

      If I'm just cooking bread I fire for exactly one hour and throw the bread in. That way I'm not waiting ages for the oven to cool to the required temp and it also saves on wood. As the bread only takes half an hour the faster than normal drop off in temp is still sufficient to cook the bread well.
      Kindled with zeal and fired with passion.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Firing just for bread

        I agree with mrchipster that knowing your oven and achieving good, deep heat saturation is a vital part of consistent success in bread baking. It's also pretty important to be aware of how much bread (and what dough types) you intend to bake during the session. I normally bake between 15-20 loaves (baguettes and mix of 1 & 2 pounders) and do a two step oven heating. The night before a bake (10:30 or 11 pm), I start a smaller fire and put in a good sized log to keep a fire/coals going overnight. I generally end up with a 200-300F oven temp in the morning when I start feeding wood in for the second (and main) firing. Based on my oven's temp profiles, I found that I needed 2-3 hours of +600F dome temps to fully heat load for my projected bake size. (If I don't have my IR gun handy, I just look for the dome to be cleared for that time frame.) I normally have cleaned out the oven and closed the door by noon for a 2:30 baking start (500-550F target hearth temp). This way my oven's ready early for my high bake temp wet dough types -- such as baguettes & focaccia -- if my dough is really active and has fully risen ahead of schedule.

        Also when heat loaded fully, the oven doesn't have big temp bounces as I move bread through it. Recovery is quick and it retains even heat for quite a while. That means I can plan more effectively for bake times of my "high sugar" loaves (at lower bake temps) and colder days (slow rises) for my "regular bread" types. That said, as David S. does, if you are only doing a small batch it's more about just getting the oven stable at the temp you want when the dough needs to go in...and may only take a short firing to get enough stored heat to bake a loaf of cinnamon raisin or whole wheat.
        Last edited by SableSprings; 09-17-2012, 03:41 PM.
        Mike Stansbury - The Traveling Loafer
        Roseburg, Oregon ( www.sablesprings.com )

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        (working on restoration after web site upgrade )

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        • #5
          Re: Firing just for bread

          Thanks for the replies!

          For the first bread bake we'll probably stick to some baguettes.

          Our oven, is 47" internal dia. Pompeii with 3" ceramic blanket and stucco. Can anybody give me a guesstimate of how long it will keep temp with a door on? Are we talking 24 hrs, less, more?

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Firing just for bread

            Originally posted by Abouna View Post
            Thanks for the replies!

            For the first bread bake we'll probably stick to some baguettes.

            Our oven, is 47" internal dia. Pompeii with 3" ceramic blanket and stucco. Can anybody give me a guesstimate of how long it will keep temp with a door on? Are we talking 24 hrs, less, more?
            Dinner buns are a very easy item to start with also.

            There are lots of variables in how long your oven will hold heat.

            Floor and wall thickness.
            Floor and wall insulation, thickness and type.
            Thermal breaks at inner arch and decorative.
            Ambient temperature.
            Wind
            Type and thermal efficiency of door.
            How many times you open the door.
            Type and density of brick.
            The dreaded cracks that let out heat.
            heat saturation of the oven, How long and how hot did you keep fire.
            Any moisture in the bricks. How dry are they...
            Type and seasoning of the wood being used.
            Dome or house style.

            I am sure there are other factors but... in the end your oven will perform unique to any other. You just need to get to know it; and that takes time and use under varying conditions.

            My two cents.

            Chip
            Last edited by mrchipster; 09-17-2012, 04:15 PM.
            Chip

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            • #7
              Re: Firing just for bread

              My oven is a modified Pompeii that's 39" max internal width and 45" deep. How long each oven retains its heat is dependent on lots of factors, but primarily the oven mass, total insulation, and heat loading. Although your 3" of dome insulation is great, it's also important to know about the hearth insulation. My WFO only has a perlite/cement insulation above and below, but I'm pretty happy with its heat profile (attached a jpg of my temp readings on a bake day last year). If you have the normal 2-3" of ceramic board underneath, your oven will retain heat far longer than mine. Since no two ovens are the same, it's time to use an IR gun and see how your oven actually performs.

              p.s. MrChipster posted as I was composing (he's much more detailed than I, but it appears you're getting the same bottom line advice)...we both agree that it's time to start paying attention and really get to know YOUR oven's heat profile & capabilities.
              Attached Files
              Last edited by SableSprings; 09-17-2012, 04:34 PM.
              Mike Stansbury - The Traveling Loafer
              Roseburg, Oregon ( www.sablesprings.com )

              Photo albums
              (working on restoration after web site upgrade )

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Firing just for bread

                Originally posted by SableSprings View Post
                attached a jpg of my temp readings on a bake day last year
                I like the chart, do you remember what the weather conditions were that day?

                I think I will be doing some charting to see what I can expect for mine. Right now it is just seat of the pants and cross the fingers it is hot enough or cool enough.

                BTW I bake on day 2 after a long pizza fire. but sometimes I will bake small rolls or baguettes on day one because the cook thru quick.

                Chip
                Last edited by mrchipster; 09-17-2012, 04:36 PM.
                Chip

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                • #9
                  Re: Firing just for bread

                  Originally posted by mrchipster View Post
                  I like the chart, do you remember what the weather conditions were that day?

                  I think I will be doing some charting to see what I can expect for mine. Right now it is just seat of the pants and cross the fingers it is hot enough or cool enough.

                  BTW I bake on day 2 after a long pizza fire. but sometimes I will bake small rolls or baguettes on day one because the cook thru quick.

                  Chip
                  The night before the bake it got down to 43F and we had a high of 64F on bake day, clear & sunny with a light wind. A perfect fall day in early October...

                  Usually my oven temps are perfect for bread (500 ish) in the morning after a pizza dinner party, but I don't like to think about more food...or "worry" about bread/rolls that morning (or even late the previous evening when I'm still stuffed with pizza). I usually start a small fire mid-morning on the "day after" a pizza dinner party and do my bread in the afternoon when my stomach is back on track...although maybe a dessert focaccia after pizza would be good...hmmm...more stretch pants coming my way.
                  Last edited by SableSprings; 09-17-2012, 05:09 PM.
                  Mike Stansbury - The Traveling Loafer
                  Roseburg, Oregon ( www.sablesprings.com )

                  Photo albums
                  (working on restoration after web site upgrade )

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Firing just for bread

                    Thanks to both of you.

                    I should have be more clear. I do plan on monitoring temps pretty close, but as the oven has only been fully fired 3 times, and never with insulation, I just wanted to get a rough idea of what to expect.

                    Build details:
                    FLOOR
                    3.5" concrete slab
                    4" vermicrete 3:1 hearth slab
                    1.5" Super Isol board (because we messed up the vermicrete ratio!)
                    thin layer of fireclay
                    firebrick cooking floor

                    DOME
                    Firebrick dome 47" inner dia.
                    3" blanket + chicken wire
                    skim coat Type s
                    skim coat Type S w/fiber w/acryl 60
                    1/2" coat Thoroseal
                    skim coat Type S w/acryl 60

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Firing just for bread

                      I'm becomming a fan of the night before fire....even if just doing bread.

                      I did a bake yesterday (seventeen loaves....one to two pounds each) that did not turn out all that well. The first batch was slightly over done. (My fault as I put the loaves in the oven and then ran down to the local car detail shop to pick up my car. I thought I could get there and back in twenty-five minutes. Instead it took me thirty-three. The oven was right for baking, but on the high side...590 or so...) Anyway, the loaves were a bit darker than I prefer. Not burnt, but close.

                      Which leads me back to the point of the thread. I started the fire around 9:45am and mixed up my dough immiediately after. Then went to Costco for ninety minutes. The fire was apparently bigger, hotter, or whatever than usual, because two hours after starting the fire I get back from Costco and the oven interior is 1200-1300 degrees. Uh-oh.

                      I spread the coals out and left the door open. I form loaves thirty minutes later. Tick-tock. By the time the dough was ready to go in, the oven was still 675 or so. Sprayed some water in...sprayed some more....put the door on to even things up...repeat. The loaves finally went in well over an hour after prime time. Overproofed.

                      The first batch of eight loaves were actually not bad...good tear at the slashes, good oven spring, open crumb...but they were a bit overdone for my tastes because I left to get my car and wasn't there to pull them when they were ready. Not a huge bug deal, but probably five minutes late.

                      The second batch went in forty minutes after the first. Obviously over-proofed. No tear at the slashes to speak of. Everthing still tasted great...but not as pretty as my last bake.


                      My take away from yesterday is to go back to the night before fires. Easier to control things in my opinion. Small fire at bedtime saturates the oven wonderfully with heat. By morning, the surface of the oven is four hundred or so...and the portions of the masonry farthest from the hot face are anywhere from four hundred to eight hundred degrees in the roof masonry. Not really what could be called even heating because the fire was stationary all night, but there is saturation all the way through over a good portion of the oven. A small fire in the am brings everthing up to temp, finishes saturation, and evens things out. Much easier to control and time in my opinion.

                      The other take away is to stop leaving in the middle of bakes. My weekends are busy with the normal family obligations, yard work, etc, and I can work around them if I'm there. Leaving the house with bread baking in the oven doesn't work though. Leaving the house to go to Costco in the middle of my bulk ferment/oven firing doesn't work either. That stuff needs attention.

                      Bill
                      Last edited by WJW; 09-18-2012, 01:20 AM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Firing just for bread

                        Hi Bill!

                        Not sure it plays into your overbaked issue but it may be exacerbating it. And I know you know it but some newbies are seemingly oblivious to it.One of the "challenges" of WFO baking is that there are effectively two key temps for the oven. The first is the hearth temp which you list as 590 (I would have pushed the process too if my bread was going over!). The other is the effective internal temp of the refractory. Hard to know what the temp was in your refractory since you fired short (implying potentially coolish for the heat has not had much time to migrate into the refractory) but way hot (so it was more than usual so maybe too hot??). Then you cooled the surface rapidly to get down to baking temps (giving little time for the temp to change in the interior of the refractory). And you loaded hot. While I don't have a clue what the refractory temp was, it could have easily been hot. Remember...the hearth and dome temps can cool significantly during baking and can rebound from the 340 range back up to 500 or more after the bread is removed and that temp rebound results from heat in the refractory reheating the hearth and dome.

                        Good post!
                        Jay

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Firing just for bread

                          Bill, somewhere on the site someone posted some details of building a migrating fire.
                          It entailed setting up the firewood so that a fire was set at, in his case, one side of the dome and of course the fire would follow the fuel to the other side of the dome. This technique allowed the person to do a bit more "set and forget" relative to heating the oven.

                          Chris

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                          • #14
                            Re: Firing just for bread

                            Thanks for the tip Chris. That makes sense.

                            On the internal refractry temp...I do have thermocouples embeded so I have a pretty good idea where I was. Unfortunately I was at Costco rather than keeping an eye on things as the refractry temp was was taking off.

                            I lit the fire at 9:45. Started my bulk ferment about 10:30. Salt addition at 11:05. S&F. Another S&F at 11:40 and left for Costco. Got home from Costco at 1:00 or so. Another couple of S&F's. (It was at this point...1:15 or so.. that I went over and took temps and realized just how hot I was. I was fully three hundred degrees higher than I expected to be.) Formed loaves at 1:45. After waiting for oven to cool, first batch went in at 5:15. (No wonder the stuff was over proofed. ) If I had managed my temps better I could have put the loaves in a solid hour earlier and all would have been good IMO.

                            When the hot face of the oven was 1200 plus, the refractry temp in the floor (at the outside margin of refractry) was four hundred plus. The refractry temp in the roof arch (one inch from the hot face) was 790. The refractry temp in the roof arch (on the outer margin of refractry, by the insulation) was 530.

                            At that point (1:15) the surface of the bricks (roof, floor, and sides) was anywhere from 1100 to 1300 depending on location in the oven. I stopped feeding the fire at that point and I spread the coals out. I'm sure that deep refractry temp continued to climb significantly as the hot face cooled.

                            Oh well...heat management has its learning curve as well.

                            Bill
                            Last edited by WJW; 09-18-2012, 12:45 PM.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Firing just for bread

                              Hay Bill,

                              This is my way of heat management. I like to preheat my oven the day before and get some good saturation 350 or so by the next day. On bake day I fire the oven early in the morning to a point that my inner wall and outer wall temps average my target temp. Pull out the coals and let it saturate. I start my bread later on bake day that way my oven is waiting for the bread and not the other way around. This way when the bread is ready so is the oven. The oven will hold bread cooking temps for hours.

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