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Prepping the perfect pizza base

There really is nothing better than a delicious pizza, especially when it’s been cooked in a wood fired oven! Even though achieving the perfect pizza base looks tricky, all you need to do is follow a few simple techniques and practice as often as possible. Beware there may be a few dough balls that don’t make it into the oven- but that’s okay practice makes perfect!

First things first..

Before you even think about making your pizzas we recommend taking your dough balls out of the fridge to bring them up to room temperature. Normally we say to give them between 2 and 4 hours to allow the gluten network to relax. If you try and open the dough when it’s too cold, it’ll make it a lot harder!

Step 1

Lightly flour your clean work surface and pop your dough ball in the centre. Using your thumbs to begin carefully push the dough ball from its centre towards the outside.

Now using your fingers ensure you’re pushing down and out towards the edge, leaving around 1cm of un-flattened edge for the crust.

Remember: Don’t push down on the crust, as doing so could mean you lose the fantastic bubbles in the dough that the proving process created.

Step 2

Next pick up your dough between your finger and thumb just below the crust and turn briskly, all the way around. This allows gravity to stretch the base as it moves, but also ensures that the outer edge doesn’t get crushed. Keep going until your dough is thin enough to slightly see through it. Be careful of holes as they can be tricky to repair.

Step 3

Finally, make sure that your surface has plenty of flour on before you place down your base. We often put the base straight onto a floured wooden peel so you don’t have to shuffle a fully topped pizza on.

When your pizza is on your peel, pull the edges a little to make sure you get a round shape and re-press in your crust with your fingers if you need to. Now it’s time to cook!


Check out our awesome pizza dough recipe here, or why not give our secret pizza sauce a try?

Are you interested in our wood fired ovens? Head over to our product pages for more information.

To keep in the loop with all the latest news make sure you follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

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All you knead to know about wood fired bread

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.

Ingredients
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.

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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.

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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.

Baking
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!

For more information on our residential oven range, check out the PrimoMezzoVento and Gusto pages. Please don’t hesitate to contact the team on 01425 204985 should you have any further questions.

For all the latest Stone Bake news & updates in the meantime be sure to follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Pinterest!

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Hot smoking in your wood fired oven

smokingSmoking meats and fish is another great way to cook in your wood fired oven. Although it is definitely one for all the patient stone bakers out there, you will reap the benefits. We recommend hot smoking in one of our Kit ovens due to the extended heat retention the insulation materials give you. Here’s our step-by-step guide to hot smoking in your wood fired oven.

1. Fire up your wood fired oven
Firstly, you need to fire up your wood fired oven to its optimum temperature using a kiln dried wood that has a moisture content of less than 20%. Then, you’ll need to allow your oven to cool until the temperature is around 110-130°C and there is no longer a flame. Using your metal peel, push the hot embers to the back or to one side of the oven. Alternatively, you can use the residual heat after a pizza party to start your smoking!

2. Prepare your meat
Whilst your wood fired oven is cooling you can then prepare your meat. Season your meat with your favourite herbs and spices then and place in a high heat tray. This can always be done a few hours in advance and left to rest in the fridge.

3. Starting up the smoke
There are many suggestions on what to use to help infuse your meat with delicious flavours, but we suggest using chips of hardwood. We recommend soaking your wood chips for 30 minutes prior to using. Then, simply place the chips on your embers and they will slowly start to give off smoke.

Flavour Combinations
Below are a few examples of the flavours of hardwood we think work really well together. Experiment with different flavour combinations to find your favourite.

  • Alder: A light flavour that works well with fish and poultry.
  • Apple and pear: Subtle flavours, delicious with pork.
  • Hickory: The most famous smoking hardwoods, infuses a strong, hearty flavor to meats, ideal for pork shoulders and ribs.
  • Maple: Traditionally used with poultry, pork and seafood.
  • Pecan: Sweet and mild flavours similar to hickory, but not as strong.
  • Oak: A favourite in Europe, strong but not overpowering. Use with beef or lamb.

A great supplier of wood chips is Hot Smoked as they are a UK based company and have a large range to choose from. For more information, please see their website here.

4. Putting in your meat
Now your wood fired oven is ready for smoking. Simply put your high heat pan close to the embers, close the door and let the smoke do its magic! Timings will vary depending on the weight of your meat so, we advise to keep a close eye on it and occasionally turn the dish using your metal peel. Once your meat is fully cooked and sliced, you should see a smoke ring around the edge where all those delicious flavours have infused.

5. Serving
This is an opportunity for you to get creative- as smoked meat can be eaten hot or cold! We love to put smoked meat in the centre of the table so everyone can tuck in! Serve with a fresh wood fired loaf and wood-roasted veggies- it’s the perfect meal to enjoy on a warm summers evening.

Stone Bake Top Tip: Remember, make good use of any leftovers and create a luxury sandwich for lunch the next day!

If you have used your wood fired oven for smoking, we would love to see your creations and recipes! Tag us on social media or email us: info@stoneovenco.co.uk

You can catch up with all the latest Stone Bake news and updates on our social media. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest! 

If you are interested in our residential oven range, visit our PrimoMezzoVento and Gusto pages for prices, information and technical drawings. Please don’t hesitate to contact the team on 01425 204985 should you have any further questions.

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Everything you need to know about using the high heat technique in your wood fired oven

When cooking in your wood fired oven there are loads of different cooking methods that you can use. As many of you reading this will be used to a conventional oven it can take a little bit of time getting used to a wood fired oven. As the high heat technique is one of the most popular, being the one used for pizzas, we thought we would give you all the information you need on how to use this method effectively.

High Heat Technique
The high heat technique is for when the oven is at its highest temperature which is roughly 350°c- 400°c. This temperature is perfect for cooking pizzas, some types of bread, appetizers, browning meat and caramelizing food.

How quickly should my pizzas cook?
Pizzas will cook in 90 seconds or under when using the high heat technique. They are cooked from the bottom up by the oven floor and the top down by the ovens internal temperature, meaning you should get a perfect pizza every time!

How can I create a high heat environment?
Firstly follow the ‘Firing Up Process’ linked here. This will ensure that your oven reaches 450°c. An easy way to tell when your oven has reached its optimum temperature is to look out for when a clear patch appears in the inside of your dome. Once this has happened you will then need to allow the heat to even out and maintain the temperature just above 400°c.

How do I use and maintain a high heat environment in my oven?
Once your oven is at its optimum temperature move the fire to one side of the oven making sure you maintain a large naked flame.

Place your pizza or other food items directly onto the floor next to the fire, rotating regularly for an even cook.

To maintain your fire you will need to make sure you are adding wood every 15-20 minutes. If you are going to be cooking for a long period of time, always move the embers from one side of the floor to the other. This will ensure even heating.

To purchase or find out more information about our wood fired ovens head over to our product pages here.

If you need any more information about how to use your wood fired oven, please email The Stone Bake Team- info@stoneovenco.co.uk or give us a call on 01425 204985.

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4 tips to help your oven reach its optimum temperature quickly and efficiently

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Getting your oven to reach its optimum temperature can sometimes be tricky especially if you haven’t cooked in a wood fired oven before.For many of our customers it is a case of trial and error and getting used to the different techniques involved. The first step is making sure you fire up your wood fired oven correctly. For everything you need to know about doing this make sure you have a thorough read of our guide all about how to fire up your wood fired oven like a pro.

To be even more helpful, we’ve also picked out our 4 top tips to help you make sure your oven reaches its optimum temperature quickly and efficiently!

1. Always make sure you store all wood, whether it is our briquettes or kiln dried logs in a dry place to be effective. Damp or wood that has a high moisture content will not only cause a lot of smoke but will make it significantly harder for your oven to reach its optimum temperature quickly and efficiently.

2. Never be afraid to add wood to your fire. Sometimes we find that our customers ovens struggle to reach their optimum temperature simply because they are not adding enough wood needed to keep that fire going!

3. It’s also important to always make sure that your oven reaches it’s optimum temperature (roughly 450°c) every time you fire up, even if you are cooking at lower temperatures. Doing this will ensure that the dome and base are fully saturated with heat, which is essential for heat retention and making sure your oven doesn’t cool quickly. A great indicator as to when your oven has reached its optimum temperature is to wait for a clear patch to appear inside the dome of your oven.

4. If your oven is in its core form, then we would always recommend coating the dome with our sealant, which will ensure that your oven is fully waterproof. If you haven’t done this already, it may mean that your oven material is quite wet, which will affect your heat up times. Once your oven has dried out, apply a layer of sealant to the external oven dome every 6 months. If your oven is built in, please disregard this point – your oven is fully protected from the elements!

If you need anymore information about how to use your wood fired oven, please email The Stone Bake Team- info@stoneovenco.co.uk or give us a call on 01425 204985.

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How to use the door when cooking in your wood fired oven

image1 3Using the door when cooking in your wood fired oven is always something that can be difficult to get used to, especially when you have been so used to a conventional oven. As we often get many customers wondering how to use it properly, we thought we would give you some advice to help you make sure you are using the door correctly.

Firstly..

The most important thing to remember is that the door should always remain off if you are using flames to cook in your wood fired oven. This is because the oxygen from the outside air feeds the fire and ensures flames, which is what you need if you are having a pizza party. You can also use your door to calm or put out a fire, but it is put to the best use when roasting or baking at significantly lower temperatures.

  • Roasting

You should remember to leave the oven door off for shorter roasting times (under an hour) but put your door in place for longer roasting times (over an hour), always remembering to rotate your items.

  • Baking

If you are doing a spot of baking in your wood fired oven it’s always a good idea to use your door once the oven has cooled to your desired temperature. Note that there should be embers but no flames and the thermometer should read between 160°c to 200°c. After you have cleared your embers to the side of your oven and placed your food items onto the oven floor to bake, you can then put the oven door in place. Leave to bake as the temperature slowly decreases.

  • Bread

Having the oven door in place is also useful when baking bread. Simply pop your loaves directly onto the oven floor and put your door in place. Make sure you don’t remove the door for the first 2-3 minutes to ensure you get that gorgeously crispy outer crust. You can also do this by creating steam. Either spritz water towards the centre of the dome or place a couple of ice cubes in a separate ovenproof dish at lower baking temperatures. Watch the steam build up then put the door into place.

Don’t forget you can catch up with all the latest Stone Bake news and updates on our social media. Be sure to follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Pinterest

If you are interested in our residential oven range, visit our PrimoMezzoVento and Gusto pages for prices, information and technical drawings. Please don’t hesitate to contact the team on 01425 204985 should you have any further questions.

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How to fire up your wood fired oven like a pro

For all you wood fired oven enthusiasts, it’s important to get the firing up process spot on. This ensures that you get your oven up to its optimum temperature, meaning your oven base and dome will be saturated with heat, allowing excellent heat retention. Here at Stone Bake we’ve made this easy to follow guide, which is guaranteed to help you fire up your wood fired oven like a pro. fire up

STEP ONE

Firstly before you light anything you need to make sure you’re using the right type of wood. There are only two types of wood we would recommend using in our wood fired ovens.

Capo Forresta

In a nutshell our Capo Forresta are 100% beech briquettes, (a compressed baton of beech sawdust) sourced from France. What’s really special about this wood is that each briquette has a moisture content of less than 7%, which means their heat output is second to none. Another benefit is that you can simply knock them against a hard surface to break them apart. No axe needed! You can buy our Capo Forresta wood here. 

Kiln Dried Wood

Alternatively, we can also recommend using kiln dried, hard wood that has a moisture content of under 20%. Keep an eye out for wood otherwise known as ‘seasoned logs.’ ‘Seasoned logs’ are marketed as being very dry but their moisture content is much higher than 20%, so you will want to avoid these if you want your wood to burn cleanly and efficiently.

  • STONE BAKE TIP: All wood, whether it is briquettes or kiln dried logs, must be stored in a dry place to be effective.
  • STONE BAKE TIP: If you are seeing an excess of smoke in your oven, you are likely to be using a soft, sappy wood or a wood with a high moisture content. Swap this for a kiln dried hard wood or beech briquettes for a cleaner burn.

STEP TWO

The Firing Up Process

firing up wood

  1. Using either your Capo Forresta or kiln dried wood, form a kindling stack in the centre of the oven. Note that your kindling needs to be approximately 3 inches wide and 10 inches long.
  2. Place a natural fire lighter into the centre of your kindling stack, making sure air can get to the wood to allow for efficient burning.
  3. Light the fire lighter and once the kindling has caught fire, leave it to burn and the stack will begin to collapse
  4. Once you have got your fire going, you can begin to feed the fire with more wood to help build a more aggressive fire.
  5. As the oven starts to approach higher temperatures, add small logs and later larger ones.
  6. Once the oven is up to temperature, you will notice that there will be a small amount of smoke. A good way to sense when the oven has reached its optimum temperature is to look out for a clear patch above the fire where the soot has completely diminished.
  7. Once your oven has reached it’s optimum temperature, you can then move your embers to the back or the side of your oven using our metal pizza peel.
  8. Depending on what you are cooking, you may want to allow your oven to cool.
  9. For pizza cooking, you will need to maintain a large rolling flame in the oven by adding more wood to the fire as needed to maintain this temperature.

Please remember: For Capo Forresta the firing up process does differ slightly. Please email us and we will be more than happy to send a PDF attachment of the Capo lighting instructions. Info@stoneovenco.co.uk

  • STONE BAKE TIP: Don’t be afraid to add wood to your fire. Sometimes we find that customers struggle to reach their ovens optimum temperature simply because they are not adding enough wood.
  • STONE BAKE TIP: Always make sure that your wood fired oven reaches it’s optimum temperature of roughly 450°c, even if you are cooking with a lower temperature. This way it ensures that the dome and base are saturated with heat, which is essential for heat retention for longer cooking periods.

STEP THREE

Now all that’s left to do is enjoy your wood fired oven!

Be sure to check out our ‘Firing up’ video, which you can find on our website here.

If you want to find out more information about our residential oven range and other products please click here!

For all the latest Stone Bake news and updates be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest!