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Tinkering with the oven

Mildrith, the oven, has been confounding, these past few weeks. She gives me enough heat for a single load of bread, but once that’s done, there’s nothing left. No heat left over for the next load! I need to build a second fire to get it up to temperature for the next bake, and that can take up to two hours until I can lay in another load of bread to bake.

Moreover, the loaves aren’t as dark as I’d like. I can’t get the deep chestnut colour I’m aiming for, the charred edges that provide a pleasing burst of flavour and crunch.

Don’t get me wrong. The oven is still making lovely bread and I love using her!

With all this in mind, I turned last week to one of the forums on the Bread Bakers Guild of America, of which I am a member. I laid out my tale of woe, heavy with detail and theories about what was happening. Perhaps there was not enough thermal mass built into the walls. The hearth floor may not have enough insulation. The oven dome may be too high.

Within a couple of hours, bakers from across the U.S. and a few close to home chimed in with questions, theories and suggestions. A couple respondents were eminent bakers, one was the well-known author, Richard Miscovich, whose book, From the Wood-Fired Oven, I had studied closely prior to building Mildrith.

Bakers to the rescue!

There was much discussion about the merits and problems of earth/clay wood-fired ovens vs. masonry ovens. The need for lots of insulation, particularly in the hearth floor. Other bakers raised problems with their own ovens and questioned their designs.

One suggestion directed at me was surprising: fire the oven for 48 to 72 hours prior to baking! This would super-saturate the thermal walls with heat and allow the temperature to quickly return to baking heat after a load of bread is taken out of the oven.

Wow! 72 hours?

Several people agreed. One baker who lives on Vancouver Island, about 50km away as the crow flies, knew we’ve been having very cold weather recently, creating difficult conditions for building heat in the oven walls.

More fire, thermal density, insulation

Another suggestion was to build more thermal density on the hearth floor. He recommended I place second layer of firebricks right on top of the existing hearth floor.

Wow again!

Miscovich was encouraging: “Like with all relationships, it sometimes takes awhile to figure out the best way to make an oven work. I bet your baking continues to improve as time passes.”

What a helpful group! I joined a few months back to see what I could get out of it. So far, it’s been a gold mine of information and cameraderie.

There were other suggestions to help Mildrith, but I will focus on one idea at a time and be patient and kind with her.

As always, stay tuned!

HAPPY MONK BLOG: An Approachable Manifesto: A loaf designed for the grocery shelf, but with honest-to-goodness artisan credentials. (May 24, 2023) [ See LinkTree in Proifile ]

HAPPY MONK BLOG: An Approachable Manifesto: A loaf designed for the grocery shelf, but with honest-to-goodness artisan credentials. (May 24, 2023) [ See LinkTree in Proifile ] ...

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Morning coffee ritual, Saturday morning. Drinking Moving Coffee, eating Happy Monk Sprouted Einkorn Sourdough bread, and spending a lot of time setting up this photo. Thanks for the coffee tip, @jomosenpai, it’s really good!
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#coffeelover #coffee #pourovercoffee #pourover #coffeetime #coffeelover  #coffeecoffeecoffee #ceramiccoffeecup #ceramiccoffeemug #coffeeaddict #einkornsourdough #einkornbread #einkornsourdoughbread #einkornbaking

Morning coffee ritual, Saturday morning. Drinking Moving Coffee, eating Happy Monk Sprouted Einkorn Sourdough bread, and spending a lot of time setting up this photo. Thanks for the coffee tip, @jomosenpai, it’s really good!
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#coffeelover #coffee #pourovercoffee #pourover #coffeetime #coffeelover #coffeecoffeecoffee #ceramiccoffeecup #ceramiccoffeemug #coffeeaddict #einkornsourdough #einkornbread #einkornsourdoughbread #einkornbaking
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It’s been a long time since I baked with Einkorn flour, the most ancient of the ancient grains. It’s called “Farro Piccolo” in Italian, or ‘little farro’. A later variety of Einkorn is called “Farro Grande” (large farro)… otherwise known as Spelt. (Einkorn left, Spelt right) Here endeth the lesson. 
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#einkorn #einkorngrain #einkornbread #einkornbaking #tasteofeinkorn #spelt #speltgrain #speltflour #ancientgrain #ancientgrains #ancientgrainbaking #ancientgrainflours

It’s been a long time since I baked with Einkorn flour, the most ancient of the ancient grains. It’s called “Farro Piccolo” in Italian, or ‘little farro’. A later variety of Einkorn is called “Farro Grande” (large farro)… otherwise known as Spelt. (Einkorn left, Spelt right) Here endeth the lesson.

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#einkorn #einkorngrain #einkornbread #einkornbaking #tasteofeinkorn #spelt #speltgrain #speltflour #ancientgrain #ancientgrains #ancientgrainbaking #ancientgrainflours
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Happy Monk Tidings - April 26, 2023 🍞: Baker's Choice: Polenta-Rosemary Sourdough; Blog: A Baker's Summit in the Loire Valley - [See LinkTree in Bio ]

Happy Monk Tidings - April 26, 2023 🍞: Baker`s Choice: Polenta-Rosemary Sourdough; Blog: A Baker`s Summit in the Loire Valley - [See LinkTree in Bio ] ...

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Latest Happy Monk Blog: Bread from the ashes of Pompeii - April 19, 2023 🍞 [ See LinkTree in Profile ]

Latest Happy Monk Blog: Bread from the ashes of Pompeii - April 19, 2023 🍞 [ See LinkTree in Profile ] ...

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Happy Monk Tidings - April 5, 2023 🍞 - BAKER'S CHOICE: Hot Cross Buns; BLOG: Falling in Love With Bread; ANNOUNCEMENT: Next Week Bread Day is on Wednesday, April 12; ALSO: Come see the Happy Monk Bread Oven this coming Sunday, April 9; [ See LinkTree in Profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - April 5, 2023 🍞 - BAKER`S CHOICE: Hot Cross Buns; BLOG: Falling in Love With Bread; ANNOUNCEMENT: Next Week Bread Day is on Wednesday, April 12; ALSO: Come see the Happy Monk Bread Oven this coming Sunday, April 9; [ See LinkTree in Profile ] ...

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Happy Monk Tidings - March 29, 2023 🍞 - BAKERS CHOICE: Whole Spelt and Maple Pan Loaf; BLOG: Spring: Two Ways of Seeing - [ See LinkTree in Profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - March 29, 2023 🍞 - BAKERS CHOICE: Whole Spelt and Maple Pan Loaf; BLOG: Spring: Two Ways of Seeing - [ See LinkTree in Profile ] ...

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Happy Monk Tidings - March 22, 2023 🍞 - BAKER'S CHOICE: Birdseed Bread; BLOG: Couldn't We Enjoy Winter a Little Longer? EXTRA: "Haulout" A film about walruses on brink. [ See LinkTree in Profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - March 22, 2023 🍞 - BAKER`S CHOICE: Birdseed Bread; BLOG: Couldn`t We Enjoy Winter a Little Longer? EXTRA: "Haulout" A film about walruses on brink. [ See LinkTree in Profile ] ...

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Happy Monk Tidings - March 15, 2023 🍞 - Greetings! This week's BAKER'S CHOICE: Anadama Bread; BLOG: The Enduring Promise of Bread Machines ~ [ See LinkTree in Profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - March 15, 2023 🍞 - Greetings! This week`s BAKER`S CHOICE: Anadama Bread; BLOG: The Enduring Promise of Bread Machines ~ [ See LinkTree in Profile ] ...

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Happy Monk Tidings - March 8, 2023 🍞 - BLOG: The Scent of Wood; BAKER'S CHOICE: Honey and Oat Porridge - [See LinkTree in Profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - March 8, 2023 🍞 - BLOG: The Scent of Wood; BAKER`S CHOICE: Honey and Oat Porridge - [See LinkTree in Profile ] ...

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Happy Monk Tidings - February 22, 2023 🍞 - BAKER'S CHOICE: Sprouted Rye and Seed Bread; BLOG: The Shipping Forecast on BBC 4; SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: No bread next week! https://mailchi.mp/4ea4d30316bb/happy_monk_tidings_feb22_2023

Happy Monk Tidings - February 22, 2023 🍞 - BAKER`S CHOICE: Sprouted Rye and Seed Bread; BLOG: The Shipping Forecast on BBC 4; SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: No bread next week! https://mailchi.mp/4ea4d30316bb/happy_monk_tidings_feb22_2023 ...

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Happy Monk Tidings - February 15, 2023 🍞 - BAKER'S CHOICE: Cinnamon-Raisin Sourdough; BLOG: The Magic of the Grouse; VIDEO: How Bread Was Made in 1962; FINAL REMINDER: New Delivery Times/Prices - [Campaign URL]

Happy Monk Tidings - February 15, 2023 🍞 - BAKER`S CHOICE: Cinnamon-Raisin Sourdough; BLOG: The Magic of the Grouse; VIDEO: How Bread Was Made in 1962; FINAL REMINDER: New Delivery Times/Prices - [Campaign URL] ...

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Luminous bannetons.
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#woodfired #woodfiredoven  #woodfiredbaking #woodfiredbakery #woodfiredbread #earthoven #earthenoven #bannetons #banneton

Luminous bannetons.
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#woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredbaking #woodfiredbakery #woodfiredbread #earthoven #earthenoven #bannetons #banneton
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Sesame Sourdough bowling alley. 
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#woodfired #woodfiredoven #coboven #Mildrith #Mildriththeoven #woodfiredovenbread #sourdough #sourdoughbread #bread #realbread #sesamesourdough #sesame #naturallyleavened #baker #bakery #bbga #artisanbread #breadhead #sourdough #sourdoughbread #penderisland #southpenderislands #southerngulfislandsbakers #southerngulfislandsbakeries #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany

Sesame Sourdough bowling alley.
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#woodfired #woodfiredoven #coboven #Mildrith #Mildriththeoven #woodfiredovenbread #sourdough #sourdoughbread #bread #realbread #sesamesourdough #sesame #naturallyleavened #baker #bakery #bbga #artisanbread #breadhead #sourdough #sourdoughbread #penderisland #southpenderislands #southerngulfislandsbakers #southerngulfislandsbakeries #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany
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Happy Monk Tidings - February 8, 2023 🍞 - Baker's Special: Spelt-Honey Sourdough; Happy Monk Blog: Into the Murk; REMINDER: New delivery hours and prices; [ See LinkTree in Profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - February 8, 2023 🍞 - Baker`s Special: Spelt-Honey Sourdough; Happy Monk Blog: Into the Murk; REMINDER: New delivery hours and prices; [ See LinkTree in Profile ] ...

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Happy Monk Tidings - February 3, 2023 🍞 - HAPPY MONK BLOG: Save Something From The Time Where We Will Never Be Again; BAKER'S CHOICE: Sesame Sourdough; NOTE: New Delivery Times and New Prices [ See LinkTree in Profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - February 3, 2023 🍞 - HAPPY MONK BLOG: Save Something From The Time Where We Will Never Be Again; BAKER`S CHOICE: Sesame Sourdough; NOTE: New Delivery Times and New Prices [ See LinkTree in Profile ] ...

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Happy Monk Tidings - December 14, 2022 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Fruit Sourdough Pan Loaf; Happy Monk Blog: The Year in Bread ... and Gratitude! [ See LinkTree in Profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - December 14, 2022 🍞 - Baker`s Choice: Fruit Sourdough Pan Loaf; Happy Monk Blog: The Year in Bread ... and Gratitude! [ See LinkTree in Profile ] ...

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Happy Monk Tidings - December 7, 2022 🍞 - Baker's Choices: Fig and Fennel and Rye-Currants; BLOG: The Noble French Baguette; Last Bake next week! [ See LinkTree in Profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - December 7, 2022 🍞 - Baker`s Choices: Fig and Fennel and Rye-Currants; BLOG: The Noble French Baguette; Last Bake next week! [ See LinkTree in Profile ] ...

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Happy Monk Tidings - November 30, 2022 🍞 - Bakers Choice: Cranberry-Pecan Sourdough; BLOG: Tassajara Wisdom/Perfect Loaf Mastery; REMINDER: Happy Monk holidays fast approaching! [ See LinkTree in Profile ]
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#theperfectloaf #perfectloaf #perfectloaf #maurizioleo #tassajarabreadbook #tassajarabread #tassajaracookbook

Happy Monk Tidings - November 30, 2022 🍞 - Bakers Choice: Cranberry-Pecan Sourdough; BLOG: Tassajara Wisdom/Perfect Loaf Mastery; REMINDER: Happy Monk holidays fast approaching! [ See LinkTree in Profile ]
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#theperfectloaf #perfectloaf #perfectloaf #maurizioleo #tassajarabreadbook #tassajarabread #tassajaracookbook
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Happy Monk Tidings - November 16, 2022 🍞 - BAKER'S CHOICE: Spelt & Toasted Buckwheat Sourdough; BLOG: Mysticism and Bob Dylan; Extra: Happy Monk Search [ See LinkTree in Profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - November 16, 2022 🍞 - BAKER`S CHOICE: Spelt & Toasted Buckwheat Sourdough; BLOG: Mysticism and Bob Dylan; Extra: Happy Monk Search [ See LinkTree in Profile ] ...

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Just rockin’ the Olive Sourdough at 4:30 a.m. in the morning. Into Mildrith’s fire they go!
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#woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredovenbread #bread #realbread #naturallyleavened #baker #bakery #bakerslife #bbga #artisanbread #breadhead #breadmaking #breadmaking🍞 #sourdough #sourdoughbread #coboven #earthoven #earthenoven #olives #olivebread #olivesourdoughbread #penderisland #southpenderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany #southerngulfislands #southerngulfislandsbakers #southerngulfislandsbakeries #penderisland

Just rockin’ the Olive Sourdough at 4:30 a.m. in the morning. Into Mildrith’s fire they go!
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#woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredovenbread #bread #realbread #naturallyleavened #baker #bakery #bakerslife #bbga #artisanbread #breadhead #breadmaking #breadmaking🍞 #sourdough #sourdoughbread #coboven #earthoven #earthenoven #olives #olivebread #olivesourdoughbread #penderisland #southpenderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany #southerngulfislands #southerngulfislandsbakers #southerngulfislandsbakeries #penderisland
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