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SpringJim 05-17-2008 04:38 AM

Converting Recipes for WFO
What's your experience with converting recipes to WFO versions?...

The oven generally has a fixed temperature and it's just an oven, so don't overcomplicate the situation. I've found that most of the time it works out okay...common sense rules.

...and I'd generally opt for a lower temperature for a longer time vs the opposite

Things to think about:

where in the oven to put the item
do you want a smoky environment to add flavor
should the dish used go in cold or preheated
do you want to raise it off the hearth
whether you want direct heat from the fire or will need to shield it
should you cover it (particularly if you don't want the smoke)
when to cover it
whether to add additonal liquid, particularly for uncovered
moving the dish around the hearth to get different temperatures (hotter or colder) as well as turning it like a pizza
with lots of items you can also stack them ...terraced cooking!

food for thought!

Frances 05-17-2008 07:03 AM

Re: Converting Recipes for WFO
One thing I have worked out - its not overly complicated or brilliant, but I would have been glad if someone had spelled it out for me when I started:

Just about anything you would cook in a covered saucepan on the stove can go into the WFO in an iron pot at temperatures between 200 C and about 110 C, so long as you bring it up to boiling point on the conventional stove beforehand. Obviously this is most useful for food that needs to cook for a long time - otherwise why bother?

nissanneill 05-17-2008 11:32 PM

Re: Converting Recipes for WFO
Nothing teaches us better than experience.
The more we try different techniques and receipes, the more we can modify the to suit ourselves.
Russell's Pizza Restarant

runs courses several times a year where he teaches a whole host of different types of cooking using the WFO, from traditional Australian tucker to breadmaking, sweets, japanese, smoking and other specialty foods. I will post the next programme when I receive it to give you a better idea.


Wlodek 09-04-2008 02:23 AM

Re: Converting Recipes for WFO
Incidentally, it was my reading of Russel's book that resulted in this development (with a massive help and encouragement from this Forum). Sadly, attending his course would be quite hard for me because of Geography. I would really like to meet him and learn from him and his colleagues sometime.

As for conversion - I agree (both from my short experience with my WFO - he says proudly - and from my long cooking experience) that common sense and experience, combined with careful checking on the cooking process are crucial.

I don't think there will be a simple conversion "recipe", like there is from a normal electric to convection electric oven, as there are too many variables and the individual characteristics of the oven to take into account.

One thing I find priceless, in the recipe conversion context or otherwise, is this friendly resource here, the sharing of experience and the general atmosphere of this Forum. So yes, I have pretty much finished building my oven, but I will be following what is happening and sharing my experience with everybody here.

I find that some fora (or forums) I came across can tend towards some sort of strict near cults, with very dogmatic following of one theory/practice or another. I find this worrying and I keep away from them. Quite opposite is happening here - the discussion is open, unbiased and pragmatic, and also, quite importantly, good humoured and tolerant.

Many thanks,

CanuckJim 09-04-2008 08:54 AM

Re: Converting Recipes for WFO

When I teach my wood fired bread baking workshops, I offer a series of loose rules of thumb for converting conventional bread recipes for a WFO.

1. Doughs for breads or pizza will happily accept a higher hydration ratio, and the products will be better for it, both in volume and crumb.

2. Because you can actually achieve a higher masonry temp than you ever could in a conventional oven, when converting, baking times should be roughly cut in half--at least to start. My 1 kilo boule take 22 minutes on a 550F hearth.

3. Learning how to manage steam for the first half of a bread bake is vital for both maximum volume and proper crust development.

4. Try to forget the baking rules that apply to electric or gas ovens. They simply don't work in a WFO.


Wlodek 09-05-2008 02:35 AM

Re: Converting Recipes for WFO
Ah, Jim, but what you say just confirms my suspicions. In particular that all of us newbies here either have to spend a lot of time experimenting and putting up with strangely shaped and coloured or glowing foods before getting good results, or come and get a chunk of an expert's experience ...

You say "When I teach my wood fired bread baking workshops". You are not giving a simple dry "recalc" rule, you are giving a piece of your experience in practice. Of course every workshop needs some written handout, but this is merely an addition to actually seeing and getting your hands on the real thing, to learning from an expert. I teach, I understand the meaning of this.

It is a pity that all the courses in the UK are in the faraway (for me) parts of the country: Essex, Devon, the nearest is Lincolnshire - all over 4h driving. Before you look at the map and laugh, please bear in mind that the concept of distance is different around these little islands from that in America or Australia.

Does your Alf run anything in Penrith, or is he planning to? There may just be a market niche in the North-West ... I checked the Village-Bakery site and found Andrew Whitley's breadbaking course, but while this sounds great and is on my list, it does not include other foods or home-sized WFOs.

We must be getting the tail end of your Gustav now, it is raining violently here, so all the best from very wet Lake District.


egalecki 09-05-2008 09:03 AM

Re: Converting Recipes for WFO
one of the things I find really cool is that different parts of the oven cook faster and slower. If the center of the oven is a bit slow, you can move the food closer to the side, where the bricks may reflect a little more heat on it. I expect that if I wanted to, I could elevate pans on bricks or something to catch the heat off the top of the dome, too. That way you can brown the top more, after the initial cook, if it doesn't look the way you want. I had one sort of sad-looking chicken which the thermometer said was cooked through, but it wasn't as brown as I wanted, so I moved it to the side and put the breast side toward the wall. Golden brown and delicious 5 minutes later!

Frances 09-06-2008 04:32 AM

Re: Converting Recipes for WFO
One of the things that fascinates me is that, as james has put it, a WFO is far more forgiving than a regular one. Shove in your bread at anything between 200 and 260 C, adjust the baking time and it'll turn out fine. And the same goes for any kind of stew at temps from 180 to 110 C.

So instead of heating the oven to the exact temp you need, you can change the cooking time according to temperature it has when you want to eat.

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