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Hearth Bread=Hearth Aroma? - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community

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Hearth Bread=Hearth Aroma?

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  • Hearth Bread=Hearth Aroma?

    I have a question for the hearth bread bakers out there.

    When placing a boule, or baguette directly on the hearth, the bread picks up a fairly strong hearth aroma. I heat soak the bricks well and make sure all the soot is burned off. I spread coals and wait. I rake coals out and mop floor and wait. I spray water before placing the loaves. I spray again when placing loaves into the oven ans seal door. I crack door later in the baking time and remove loaves and place on cooling racks.

    When the loaves are taken out of the oven, they do not have an overly pronounced hearth smell, but after cooling, the hearth smell is very strong.

    Items placed on sheets and baked in pans turn out spectacular.

    The pizza is different, though. Baked on the hearth, it doesn't pick up as much hearth aroma, probably because it's only there for a short time.

    Is this typical? Or, am I getting too much hearth aroma because the hearth is still too new? Do most use pans?

    Thanks for any info,

    Timo
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  • #2
    Re: Hearth Bread=Hearth Aroma?

    Timo,

    We bake quite a lot of hearth breads here, and I have never noticed what you call a "hearth aroma." It's probable that your oven needs more firings and hotter firings to drive off any smell that's probably a leftover from construction. With a few exceptions, our breads are always baked directly on the bricks, although we do use sheet pans for small things like dinner rolls, kaisers and bagels because they can be tricky to chase around with a peel in the back of the oven.

    Jim
    "Made are tools, and born are hands"--William Blake, 1757-1827

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    • #3
      Re: Hearth Bread=Hearth Aroma?

      Thanks for your insights I am thinking the perlcrete insulating layer probably has more water hiding in it and the heat draws the moisture toward the hearth. Just have to keep firing away until she's nice and dry I guess.
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      • #4
        Re: Hearth Bread=Hearth Aroma?

        timo
        describe a bit of what you are smelling...what does it smell like...like cjim we bake our breads almost entirely on the bricks and also don't know what you mean
        best
        Dutch
        "Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity. " Charles Mingus
        "Build at least two brick ovens...one to make all the mistakes on and the other to be just like you dreamed of!" Dutch

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        • #5
          Re: Hearth Bread=Hearth Aroma?

          Here is a picture of some loaves left over from this weekend's neighborhood pizza party. I made about 30#'s of dough. At least one bolt from the Kitchen Aid fell out, and the locking pin almost fell out.


          Now, this hearth odor is still a part of the bread, but not so much the pizza.

          I am hard press to solve this riddle. The odor is not pleasant. It is a burned smell. Slightly bitter and acrid. Not soot or build up because I burn it all off from the high heat temps. I can't even smell the bread aroma. If the dough is baked in a pan, there is little if any smell, so I am leaning toward the hearth bricks.

          I am think of taking all the floor bricks out and seeing what I can figure out. I am just very disappointing after all the work I put into this oven to have it impart such a smell to the bread.
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          • #6
            Re: Hearth Bread=Hearth Aroma?

            I can only speculate that there is still some moisture in the perlicrete, like you said. It has been said around here that the stuff takes forever and a day to dry, so it may still be imparting damp cement flavors. Is the insulation layer so sealed in that there's nowhere for the moisture to go but into the bricks, perhaps? Just a thought...

            I'm following this thread with some interest, as my perlicrete had gotten a bit damp in the recent heavy rains here in california...
            -jamie

            My oven build is finally complete!

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            • #7
              Re: Hearth Bread=Hearth Aroma?

              Interesting. Sorry to say I am not much help. As for moisture in the insulating layer, I had a terrible experience in May/June with my entire oven becoming saturated. I can only speculate that 2 weeks of driving rain saturated my entry and the water continued to wick into everything. it took several attempts to just keep a fire lit, then another 4 all day fires to drive out the water. I actually had 4 light streams (continuous drips) of water coming out of the slate tile on my cantilevered hearth on fires 3 & 4. All that said, I cooked pizza each time and roasted afterwards at least twice. Other than temp problems and initially keeping the fires going, I had no issues. No smells of any kind. I did user vermiculite and my oven HAD been dry for over 2 yrs......maybe that is why no smells.

              RT

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              • #8
                Re: Hearth Bread=Hearth Aroma?

                hey timo,

                I am not a big bread baker, But my question is what kinds of wood are you burning, some woods, such as cedar are oily and will stink when you burn them, are you using good seasoned firewood ? Is it a smoky smell, flavor your getting ? someone else here suggested to me cleaning the floor with a slab of bacon lard before baking,, do you put flour or corn meal under the bread and is it burning ?

                Cheers
                Mark

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                • #9
                  Re: Hearth Bread=Hearth Aroma?

                  You know, since I really don't know what I am doing yet, I haven't even thought about the flour burning part. Now that I think about it, it could be flour from the peel burning on the floor and imparting the aroma.

                  Maybe it's the combination of flour and hearth temp? I have been shooting for a temp about 580. I have been staying away from corn meal because that seemed to burn up too fast, but I guess the flour is burning just as much, but what else can you do?

                  As far as wood, I have been burning 2-3" pieces of hard wood. I have split these suckers small and they burn with lots of flame. I did use some scrap wood and bits and ends for curing fires, though. Could have been some questionable wood in the mix, but not much.

                  So, I guess I could put a small extra layer of brick on the hearth bricks, and try another peel flour or substance that won't burn so easily.
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                  • #10
                    Re: Hearth Bread=Hearth Aroma?

                    the wood sounds like its fine... Im guessing its the flour.. I dont think you need to put extra bricks on,, can you put your bread on parchment and let it cook for a few then slide it of without flour ??

                    We need some of the bread bakers to chime in here..

                    Mark

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                    • #11
                      Re: Hearth Bread=Hearth Aroma?

                      timo
                      No offense intended but, are you cleaning the oven of all ash and coals and mopping the hearth prior to baking? It is quite rare for a WFO to burn bread and when you said it is a burnt smell...well I thought of ash and coals in the oven. As for the flour on the floor it is sometimes unavoidable but if you have a nice smooth peel you won't need as much flour. You could also try brown rice flour to dust your peel with...seems to have a nice slip and resists burning quite well.
                      Hope this helps!
                      Best
                      Dutch
                      "Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity. " Charles Mingus
                      "Build at least two brick ovens...one to make all the mistakes on and the other to be just like you dreamed of!" Dutch

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                      • #12
                        Re: Hearth Bread=Hearth Aroma?

                        Here's are a few loaves from some sour dough starter I was going to throw out, but used for these loaves.
                        I wasn't expecting much, but, I have to say these are by far the best loaves I have ever made... and they were made in my house oven on a pizza stone.

                        I still have not solved my hearth odor. These loaves are so good because I can actually taste the bread. The crust is light and crispy, plenty of rise, almost as much as my brick oven.

                        I am missing something with the brick oven, not too sure what though. The crusts on the hearth breads are very thick and hard. Would that be too much moisture at the beginning?

                        But the hearth odor is still the main problem. Something got into the hearth bricks to cause the odor and I am not sure what it was. You would think that a hot enough fire would burn off anything left behind from construction. Problem is I can't smell anything when they are going in.

                        So, now I am going to try another intense firing of the oven. Then perhaps taking up the hearth bricks.
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                        • #13
                          Re: Hearth Bread=Hearth Aroma?

                          Hi Timo!

                          Your situation is definitely weird. I haven't chimed in because I simply don't have a clue.

                          Your starting oven temp may be a bit high but it doesn't seem high enough to be a problem. Are there any black spots on the bottom of the loaves that have the "hearth odor". I would think not. I presume you have tried parchment under the bread. If that works then it has to be something about the material you are using on the peel (and...that doesn't really make sense to me either) or the bricks...or...deeper. But again, none of that really makes sense. (I omit the pan because that protects most of the bread from exposure to anything.)

                          Your bread skills look good! Loaves look nice - good oven spring. You are questioning the crust on the WFO bread. How are you loading and humidifying the oven?

                          Jay

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                          • #14
                            Re: Hearth Bread=Hearth Aroma?

                            Well, given the plans for the Pompei oven are so straight forward and materials were easily found, the most likely cause for failure here was myself.

                            I took out the hearth bricks. I compared the charred side to the fresh bottom. The charred side has surely picked up some foreign residue. I really can't trace it, but somehow something I burned or introduced into the oven has left a bad blackened layer on the hearth bricks.

                            It was just so hard to know about what was going on because the smoke from the fire always hid the true smells inside the oven. And of course, I haven't ever done anything remotely close to this project.

                            So, this is what I did: Since I built around the hearth bricks, I simply flipped over all the whole bricks to their fresh bottom side. The Insul-board looked perfect and rock stable. I vacuumed the ash that settled between the bricks. That left the 20 or so odd shaped edge pieces, so I took them out and belt sanded them down to new brick. Basically stripped the top layer off that the blackened layer had soaked into.

                            So, now I have a new hearth, but the bricks that I belt sanded still have that residue smell. The whole ones I flipped have 2 1/2" between the old face and the new, so there's no problem with those. And I am not too worried about the dome because it gets white and cleans itself and ends up looking fine. But those hearth bricks...I just don't know what the hell happened. I should have noticed that the dome was turning white when really hot, but the hearth bricks didn't.

                            Given the bricks are porous, how can I drive anything in them, out? I'd like to try a nice hot fire and go from there. Anyone with other ideas let em fly.
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                            • #15
                              Re: Hearth Bread=Hearth Aroma?

                              how about using coal or charcoal.. letting it cover the entire floor with the direct heat ? and a fire as well... theres got to be a way to burn that stink out....

                              coal will burn hot and for a long time,, maybe a wood fire in the middle and ring the coal around the outside...

                              Just some thoughts

                              Mark

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