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Building a 42" oven mainly for bread - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community

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Building a 42" oven mainly for bread

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  • #16
    oh, and very, very intimidating :|

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    • #17
      Matt - Relax & enjoy the adventure of the oven build...lots of help here, and lots of people who started out just as intimidated by the project (if not more so).

      A couple of comments based on my limited bread experience...

      With that projected volume of bread you will want as much insulation as possible for a smaller oven mass. That is definitely a weakness with my oven compared to those with 3"-4" ceramic fiber board under a full brick hearth...those ovens retain their heat for a long, long time when coupled with a similar thickness of ceramic batting over the oven mass.

      That said, my oven cools down and allows me to bake several batches of baguettes at pretty high temps and after an hour or two I can reduce baking temps (open door) to levels more appropriate to wheat breads, then even cooler to bake Challah & other more delicate types of laminated doughs.

      For larger batches of bread through a longer period of time and relatively constant temperature, in the future you may find yourself building a white oven (vs the black oven you are now starting).

      Again, that said, I recently saw a (very large) old black oven used for a bakery on the east coast (US) that uses a single firing for the oven and then bakes breads down to cookies as the oven cools throughout the day. Really an amazing feat of time and temperature management. I think your wife is going to love the process! (and you'll probably get to sample a fabulous bunch of tasty experiments).
      Mike Stansbury - The Traveling Loafer
      Roseburg, Oregon

      FB Forum: The Dragonfly Den build thread
      Available only if you're logged in = FB Photo Albums-Select media tab on profile
      Blog: http://thetravelingloafer.blogspot.com/

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      • #18
        I'm not allowed to eat breads, she's got me a diet of all things. What a shame - I'm totally ripped off in this project but still, happy wife happy life!

        What do you mean by black vs. white oven?

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        • #19
          A black oven has the fire built in the cooking chamber. As the cooler, brick chamber is heated, the dome/chamber will turn black with soot. At about 600F, this soot (carbon) will burn off and the bricks clear (turn back to normal color with some clinging white ash powder). Often you hear or see "When the dome clears..." as an indication of the firebricks coming to temp. The term "black" oven simply refers to this type of oven and heat loading process. The ash & coals are removed and once the oven bricks have equalized their temperatures to desired temperatures, baking can commence. This type of oven is the most commonly done and relatively easy to construct (especially with all the resources here at the forum.

          A white oven, has a separate fire box from the cooking chamber. The classic commercial French & Spanish ovens of the late 1800's were mostly white ovens. The fire is started in a lower or side chamber (fire box) and a dual vent system allows the initial smoke to bypass the cooking chamber. When the oven chamber is to be heated, there is a vent connecting the fire box that's opened. The fire at that point should not be producing much in the way of smoke...it's primarily just a hot fire & coals. The heat is directed into the chamber, slowly bringing the chamber's firebricks up to temp. When the oven has reached the desired temp, the vent is closed and baking can commence--no need to remove ash & coals since they were never in the chamber. If the cooking chamber cools down below the baker's needs, the firebox vent can simply be opened again to bring the temp back up for the next batch of dough. The vent into the chamber was often covered with a pan of water to increase the humidity and close off the connection just prior to a bake. Lots of different designs out there with lots of variations on the fire box to cooking chamber heat transfer. A true white oven never has any gases from the fire directly enter the baking chamber...but again much more difficult to build...and not the only way to go.

          As you can see the white oven is quite a bit more complicated to build, however for a bakery there are some obvious advantages. There are several threads in the forum that discuss the white vs black oven and if you do a Google search on "Wood Fired White Ovens" you'll get lots of hits from bakeries that use a white oven. (as well as other information, pics, etc.).

          An excellent book that covers a lot of building options and designs is The Bread Builders: Hearth Loaves and Masonry Ovens by Daniel Wing and Alan Scott ...highly recommended!

          p.s. Roasted vegetables are terrific in a WFO. Chunked up, with little olive oil, salt & pepper...good enough that you'll forget about having the bread...and highly recommended for a diet
          Mike Stansbury - The Traveling Loafer
          Roseburg, Oregon

          FB Forum: The Dragonfly Den build thread
          Available only if you're logged in = FB Photo Albums-Select media tab on profile
          Blog: http://thetravelingloafer.blogspot.com/

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          • #20
            Thanks very much Mike

            Diet or not, I'll be eating plenty of food from this oven - looking so forward to it.

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