Forno Bravo Community Cookbook

Parisian Baguette

(Makes 3 small baguettes or many breadsticks)

This formula is primarily used for the typical long, skinny loaf seen in Paris, but it can be made into many other shapes, from breadsticks to rolls. Using a preferment, this time in the form of pâte fermentée, gives the loaves a depth of flavor that can’t be achieved any other way. This is a two-day bread, but the first day’s preparation is very simple.

Four baguettes made from this recipe are shown in the foreground, surrounding a jug full of breadsticks made from the same dough.

Day One, Pâte Fermentée (16 oz.)

  • 5 oz. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 5 oz. unbleached bread flour
  • ¾ tsp. sea salt
  • ½ tsp. instant yeast (IDY)
  • 7 oz. filtered, bottled (no salt added) or spring water at room temperature

Stir the flours and the yeast together in a medium sized bowl. Add the water and stir with a large metal spoon until a ball just begins to form. Add the salt and continue to stir until the flour is completely hydrated. Turn the dough out onto the lightly floured counter and knead vigorously by hand, pushing the dough away from you with both hands, then taking it up to shoulder height and slamming it down on the counter as shown in our hand kneading video clip. Knead in this fashion for six minutes. Sprinkle on flour as required until you have a smooth dough ball that is tacky but not sticky. The internal temperature of the dough should read between 77º to 81ºF.

Mist a bowl with spray oil, and roll the dough ball in it to coat with oil. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Ferment until the dough rises to about 1½ its original volume (about 1 hour). Transfer the dough to the counter, and degas it by kneading lightly (no slamming). Return it to the bowl, recover with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge overnight. Pâte fermentée will keep in the refrigerator for as many as three days. You can also freeze it for up to three months in an oiled freezer bag.

Day Two, Dough

  • Pâte fermentée (16 oz.)
  • 5 oz. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 5 oz. unbleached bread flour
  • ¾ tsp. sea salt
  • ½ tsp. instant yeast (IDY)
  • 7 oz. filtered, bottled (no salt added) or spring water at 90o to 100o F

Take the pâte fermentée out of the fridge and cut it into ten or so small pieces with your pastry cutter. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for one hour to warm up before making your dough.

Stir the yeast into the combined flours. Add the water to the bowl of your mixer, and then pour in the flour. Use speed one for about a minute or so, and then add the pâte fermentée. Continue mixing until the ingredients form a shaggy ball. Add the salt at this stage, switch to speed two, and knead for four minutes or so. Take the dough’s temperature. If you’re at the low end, continue kneading for another minute. At 81o F, though, remove the dough from the mixer and finish it by hand. The properly kneaded dough should be tacky to the touch, but not sticky. If it is, sprinkle on a bit more flour and continue kneading. The finished dough should be in the right temperature range and pass the windowpane test discussed earlier.

Round the dough into a ball as shown in the video clip for shaping a boule later in this chapter. Lightly mist a large bowl with spray oil, turn the dough into it, and roll it around to coat with oil. Give the top of the dough ball a quick spray, and then cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap.

Let the dough ferment at warm room temperature for about 2 hours, or until it doubles in size. This is a fairly lean dough, meaning it will not be sticky, so turn it out onto a lightly floured counter. Cut it, by weight, into three equal pieces, with a floured pastry knife as shown in the Baguette Shaping Part One Video. The dough shown there is a double batch, with part of it being reserved for breadsticks.

The second clip shows the method for forming these loaves to add surface tension, as well as the use of a couche to encourage the loaves to rise upwards rather than spread outwards. The Baguette Shaping Part Two Video demonstrates this technique. Mist the tops of the loaves with spray oil, and cover loosely but completely with plastic wrap. Proof the loaves for about 45 to 75 minutes, until they have risen to 1½ times their original size.

Steam your oven for 10 seconds, 10 minutes before the loaves are loaded.

Depending on how they were formed, these loaves might be too long for your pizza peel. If so, make a simple, rectangular baguette peel from half-inch plywood, about 6 inches wide and 36 inches long. It will not need a handle for smaller ovens. Flour the surface of the peel. At Mary G’s, we prefer to use brown rice flour for this purpose, because it does not burn easily. Slide a long, flexible spatula (sometimes called an icing spatula) under each loaf and place it on the peel and dock or slash it with three separate cuts down the length and center of the loaf. Think of it as cutting a thin flap on each loaf of bread. Load them, one at a time, onto a 550o hearth, by tipping you homemade peel sideways, not trying to jerk them off the front. If you’re feeling brave, load two and then one. Immediately steam the oven once more, and then seal the oven door.

Bake for ten minutes, then crack the door to allow the steam to escape and the crust to set for two minutes more. At the 12 minute mark, remove one loaf from the oven with your pizza peel. The internal temperature should be 205o F or above, the slashes will have opened, and the loaves should be a rich golden brown.

Be patient. Cool them on wire racks for at least an hour before serving. The shelf life for these breads is two days in paper bags. This formula can be easily doubled or tripled.

This is a versatile dough that can be made into rolls or breadsticks. The technique for forming rolls is shown under the Kaiser recipe later in this section, and you can take a look at the Breadstick Shaping Video to see how they are made. Simply roll out the dough you’ve set aside from your baguette making to about ¼ inch thick. Using a pizza wheel-cutter, slice the dough into ½ inch strips (don’t be too fussy about shape, irregular is better), place them on oiled parchment paper, spray the strips with water or oil, and sprinkle on your choice of sea salt, spices or poppy seeds in any combination. Loosely but completely cover the sheet pan with plastic wrap, and let the sticks rise for the same time as the baguettes. A little longer won’t hurt.

Place the sheet pan on the hearth, steam briefly, then seal the door. These will bake in a flash. Check after five minutes. If the tops show good color, and the sticks have risen well, remove them immediately. Again, be patient with cooling. These are best eaten the same day as they are baked.

Four baguettes made from this recipe are shown in the foreground, surrounding a jug full of breadsticks made from the same dough.


Breadsticks will bake in a flash.

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Biga Whole Wheat Bread

Biga Whole Wheat Bread*
(Makes 2 8×4 inch loaves)

Many people have problems baking wheat breads, producing loaves that are heavy and dense. This has a lot to do with the nature of whole-wheat flour, because it is relatively low in gluten compared to bread flour. The solution here is to use what bakers call a preferment, or a bit of a boost to get that whole wheat flour really moving, plus adding a percentage of hard, unbleached bread flour and vital wheat gluten. This is pretty well a foolproof recipe, and, even if you’ve never baked bread before, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at your initial success.


  • 8 oz. whole milk
  • 8 oz. filtered or bottled (no salt added) or spring water
  • ¼ oz (1Tbsp.p.) light brown sugar
  • 4 ½ tsp. active dry yeast (ADY)
  • 4 ½ oz. whole wheat flour

Stir the milk and water together in an 8 cup bowl. Heat in the microwave until the liquid reaches 90-100o F. Stir in sugar until it dissolves. Sprinkle yeast over the top. Once the yeast softens (about 1 minute), stir it in. Add the whole wheat flour and stir until completely hydrated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to ferment. Depending on the warmth of your kitchen, the mixture will rise up then start to collapse within about 1 ½ hours. When it begins to collapse, it’s ready to use.

While the Biga is rising, begin your mis-en-place for the next steps: weigh out your ingredients into suitable prep bowls, spread out your equipment out ready to go.


  • 9 oz. whole wheat flour
  • 9 oz. hard, unbleached bread flour
  • 2 oz. softened butter
  • 1 ¾ oz. brown sugar (or less if you prefer)
  • 2 Tbsp. vital wheat gluten (available at health food stores or specialty markets)
  • 2 tsp. sea salt

Combine the Biga, butter and sugar in the bowl of your mixer with the paddle attachment at speed one for about thirty seconds. Add the flours and the gluten, switch to the dough hook, and mix until everything comes together in a rough ball. Add the salt at this stage. Knead for four minutes on speed two. Turn off the machine. The dough should be tacky, but not sticky. If it’s very sticky, briefly knead in more flour. If it’s too stiff and dry, dribble in a bit more water with the machine running. Switch off the machine, and take the dough’s temperature. Remember that your range is 77-81ºF. If you are on the low end, continue kneading for another minute or two. If on the high end, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead by hand until the dough passes the windowpane test described in Chapter 2.

Mist a large bowl with cooking spray. Form the dough into a ball. Turn it into the bowl and roll it around to coat with the oil. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Set in a warm place for bulk fermentation. The dough should double in size in 1 ½ to 2 hours, depending on the warmth of your kitchen. In summer, 1½ will be enough; 2 hours during a cold winter. It’s ready if you poke the top of the dough with your finger and the indentation stays.

Turn the dough out onto an unfloured counter and lightly press it flat to degas the dough. Cover with a towel and let rest for five minutes while you prepare two 8×4 inch loaf pans by misting the interiors with spray oil. Using a dough knife, divide the dough into two equal pieces by weight. Pat each piece into an even sided rectangle about 5 inches wide and 6 to 8 inches long. Working from the 5 inch side, roll up the length of the dough, a section at a time, pinching the seam closed with your fingers at each rotation. As you roll up the dough, it will begin to lengthen. Pinch the final seam closed with the edge of your hand. Rock the loaf with the palms of both hands to even it out. The ends should not be tapered, and the surface of the loaf should be even across the top. It is important that your pans measure 8 inches long by 4 inches wide (this is a standard size; the next size up is 9 inches long). Place the loaves in their pans, making sure that the ends of the loaves touch the ends of the pans to guarantee an even rise.The purpose of this method is to create internal and external surface tension in the dough to give you a strong, even rise.

Cover the pans with lightly misted plastic wrap and set aside in your warm place to rise for about an hour, or until about doubled. The dough should be domed about one inch or so above the edge of the pan before baking.

As originally written, this recipe was intended for baking in a 350o home oven for about 35-45 minutes. In your Forno Bravo pizza oven, with a hearth temperature of around 500º, and the door in place, these breads should take about 20 minutes to reach an internal temperature of 190ºF. Turn one loaf out of the pan at this time, and take its temperature to be sure. The sides of the loaves should be golden where they meet the sides of the pan. With an enriched formula pan bread of this kind, injecting steam into the oven is not necessary. Tent the loaves with aluminum foil for the last five minutes or so if the tops are getting too brown for your liking.

If you enjoy this sandwich bread, the next time you make it, toast sunflower, pumpkin and brown sesame seeds in a frying pan until they just begin to crackle. Let cool and add them all during the last two minutes of machine kneading. After that, experiment with your favorite enhancements.

*This recipe is a much amended version of one by Tami Smith that appears in


The finished hearth-baked loaves. Note the soft, rather dry crumb that is characteristic of good whole wheat bread.

This Biga has just fallen, as you can see by the separation line from the container on the outside edge. It’s ready to use.


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Most cultures have a form of flatbread — a leavened dough that is baked for a shorter period of time than a traditional hearth loaf or even a focaccia. They are a pleasing addition to any meal, and can be cooked in a pizza hot oven that you are using to cook other foods — which can be too hot for a hearth loaf or focaccia. Unlike a focaccia, a flatbread is cooked directly on the oven cooking hearth.

We often see families in restaurants enjoying flatbread topped with olive oil as an appetizer before a traditional Italian meal. Sometimes, after chatting about ovens with a restaurant owner or pizzaiolo, we have been sent a flatbread with compliments — and to show the pizzaiolo’s skill.

By making your own lavash crackers, you can enjoy the pleasure of a salty cracker, with having to worry about the trans-fats that make up virtually every commercial cracker.

Basic Flatbread Dough Recipe
1 1/2 cups water
4 TBS olive oil 
4 cups bread flour (read our flour page for more)
2 tsp salt
2 tsp dry active yeast

Using a bread machine, add the water and olive oil, then cover the liquid with flour . Add the salt (half each in two corners), then make small well in the middle of the flour and add the yeast. Start the dough cycle, which will last for roughly 90 minutes.

Divide you dough into four round balls, and let rest for an hour.

Toss as you would a pizza, cover with olive oil, a splash of juice from your peeled tomatoes (if you have it), a dash of oregano and perhaps a little salt.

Cook for two minutes.

Flatbread Variations
Arugula and feta
Pear and Brie
Cecina – chickpea flatbread/chickpea pizza
Focaccia - risen flatbread baked in a pan
Schiaciatta - a Tuscan flatbread between pizza and focaccia

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rye naan


this indian-style bread is a great accompaniment to the baked feta recipe i posted last week. it would obviously also be a great side dish for indian food, and, because of the way it puffs up and creates a pocket, it would be tasty used in place of pita bread for falafel or other “stuffed” sandwiches. also feel free to substitute another flour for the rye – whole wheat would work well, or even just straight white flour.

1 1/4 c water

1/2 heaping tsp active dry yeast

2.75 c + 2 t bread flour

1 c rye flour

1/2 c plain yogurt

1 t olive oil

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 1/4 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp salt

this bread is made using the sponge method, which is a way of introducing extra flavor into the naan and improving the texture of the finished product. start by blooming a heaping 1/4 teaspoon of yeast in 1 cup of the water. the water should be slightly warm but not hot. let the yeast bloom for about 5 minutes until the water starts to look foamy, then combine with 1 1/4 cups of the bread flour. allow the mixture to ferment for 1 hour, until you start to see bubbles and/or cracks appear on the surface of the sponge.

when you’re ready to proceed, bloom the remaining yeast in the remaining 1/4 cup water, as before. then, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the sponge, the bloomed yeast and water mixture, and the rest of the ingredients. turn the mixer on low and allow the dough to come together, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. once the dough has taken on a shaggy appearance, increase the speed to medium and knead for approximately seven minutes , until the dough has completely amalgamated and become elastic. the finished product will be quite sticky.

leave the dough in the mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel. put the dough in a warm place and let it proof until it has doubled in size, about 1 hour.

turn out onto a well-floured surface. divide the dough into eight equal balls and then roll each ball into a roughly oval-shaped sheet about 1/4-inch thick. use as much flour as you need, but as little as you can, to keep the dough from sticking.

i cooked my naan in a 500f (air temp) oven. bake the naan directly on the floor of your oven. the bread should puff dramatically after 45 seconds to a minute. flip over the naan and cook for another 30 seconds on the other side. remove and serve warm with just about anything you’d wand to dip some bread into.


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leftover pizza doughball bread

I admit, the title of this bread is not so great, but I didn’t want to call it Italian Bread, or French bread. I’m afraid it isn’t authentic enough for those titles. Maybe Rustic Sandwich rolls?


  • leftover pizza dough – the basic recipe from the Forno Bravo forum is perfect!
  • kosker salt
  • olive oil

After making enough pizzas to satisfy, take the extra dough balls and slightly flatten them, using your fingers to make indentations, barely stretching the ball. Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt (lightly!). Slide them into the oven, keeping them closer to the front if it’s still very hot. Keep moving them around so they don’t burn and remove them once they’re light and hollow feeling.

These make the best rustic sandwich breads. Or you can slice them like small loaves of bread and use them for appetizers, or slice them into 2-4 large bread slices by slicing them from horizontally.

A great way to use up leftover dough, besides making more pizzas!

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Ciabatta Italian Hearth Bread

Mix to a pancake batter consistency, cover with plastic wrap and let ferment for 3-4 hours, or over night. Refrigerate after 3-4 hours.

The Finished Bread

By weight

  • The poolish, plus
  • 700gr flour
  • 20gr salt
  • 9gr yeast
  • 430gr water (73% final hydration)

By volume

  • The poolish, plus
  • 2 7/8 cups flour
  • 1 Tbl salt
  • 1 1/4 tsp yeast
  • 1/2 cup water

Mix the dough to where it is well hydrated (almost sticky).

Stretch and fold (like a letter) and let rest covered with plastic for 30 minutes.

Stretch and fold again, and let rest for 1 1/2-2 hours covered. (The stretch and fold lines up the gluten to give the dough structure).

Cut the ball into three pieces, stretch into the final shape.

Proof for an hour then bake.

It’s a very moist dough, and you don’t slash it. The final shape almost looks like a dog bone. The final bread is crusty with big holes in the crumb.

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