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Retained Heat Cooking

Retained heat cooking uses 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 wood fired 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 brick oven door to hold in the heat, and to let your pizza oven settle and regulate.

If you want to bake or roast for longer periods of time, you should fire your brick oven longer. Remember, your pizza oven is a “reservoir” of heat, where the thermal mass of your wood fired oven absorbs the heat of the fire and allows retained heat 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 brick oven, so if you want to roast a large meal or bake lots of bread, you have to first “put” enough heat in your pizza 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 brick oven up to heat (30-45 minutes), and quickly let the temperature settle. You will burn less wood, and your wood fired 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 pizza oven temperature will fall to roughly 550F, where you can cook a wide range of dishes using retained heat cooking. Check our Oven Management pages for the best ways to gauge your brick 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 brick 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 wood fired ovens so that locals can bake their bread, or their Paella, using retained heat.

Enjoy your pizza 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


Additional Reading:

To the Forno Bravo Recipe Index.

Creating steam in your brick oven
Creating steam in your regular oven

Grilling Basics

chickpea pizza

Cecina; chickpea pizza.

honey salmon

Salmon with honey.

baked focaccia bread


Have any questions?