There really is nothing better than fresh wood fired bread baked in one of our ovens. However, nowadays with bread so readily available from the supermarket, lots of us have slowly slipped away from the simple art of baking our own bread. You don’t need fancy ingredients or special equipment to create a beautiful loaf, all you need is a bit of patience and time. We’ve put together all the basic rules that you’ll need to follow to bake your own bread in your wood fired oven successfully.
The main ingredients for most standard bread recipes are flour, yeast, salt and warm water. That’s it! You can always add dried fruit, nuts or cheese to name just a few. Quite a lot of the big brands of pre-packaged bread are full of additives and preservatives which help it look and taste as fresh for as long as possible. Other ingredients are also added to speed up the baking process to make sure supermarket shelves are always fully stocked. These harmful ingredients can sometimes affect people so badly that they feel they need to give up bread completely, when actually they just need to eat fresh, handmade bread that uses simple and fresh ingredients!
Making bread is simple really, you just need to ensure that your measurements are accurate and your water is warm enough to activate your yeast. Activating the yeast enables it to start eating the sugar particles within the flour. From there, it will produce gasses that will create bubbles in your bread, allowing it to rise.
Time & Kneading
Bread also needs time so that it can rise properly. Once your dough has risen, it’s time to knead it so that the yeast can be evenly distributed. Some recipes say you can use a freestanding mixer with the dough hook attached, but we much prefer to do it by hand. It lets you really get to know your bread and its elasticity. Pete, the head baker from BakeHouse 24, doesn’t think that it’s essential to spend lots of time kneading the bread and instead, he uses folding techniques. He says that by pulling and folding, the gluten is still stretched and you can knock out enough of the bubbles. When you have kneaded your dough enough, it should be smooth and springy. You can test this by gently poking the dough with a finger and if it bounces back, you know that you’re onto a winner.
After kneading your bread, you will then need to shape it. By doing this, it tells your bread what shape you want it to be when cooked. It’s good practice to allow time for the dough to rise once shaped, so more bubbles are created to give you a light and fluffy loaf.
When it comes to baking your bread, there is a small step you need to do to ensure a soft middle and a crispy outer crust. Most commercial bakeries will have a specialised oven that will pump steam into the oven chamber at the beginning of baking. Steam delays the crust from forming straight away, which gives the centre of your bread the chance to gently cook through. Once the steam has evaporated, your crust will start to form. To replicate this in one of our wood fired ovens, we would suggest adding a small tray with a couple of ice cubes to create a small amount of steam. Alternatively, you could use a water sprayer to spritz a small amount of water toward the centre of your oven.
We’re absolutely positive you won’t be disappointed once you’ve tasted a delicious wood fired loaf that you’ve made from scratch. We really hope this has inspired you to start making your own bread in your wood fired oven. There are already a few bread recipes on our website so take a look and keep an eye out for any new ones too!