Sunday, January 15, 2012

Relearning How to Bake



By now you have figured out my oven obsession. Yesterday I decided to make Fornax more efficient by doing some interior patchwork, starting with vacuuming out all remaining sand then applying mortar to any interior nooks and crannies. Little did I realize how good a job it was. After stoking her for an hour, I raked out the coals, gave the floor a quick wet mopping with a newly made broom and threw in a standard sourdough. Not one minute later the bread was burnt to a cinder. Not just the side facing the hottest wall, but the entire bottom. I'm guessing it must have been 1000 degrees. I've never seen such immolation. Clearly I need to rethink fuel and stoking now that she retains heat so well. Not all was lost though. Nathan Crook had only to suggest the word quail and poof: it came into being. These cooked in maybe 4 or 5 minutes tops. Just marinated and set into a clay cassola. Magnificent.

5 comments:

Scott A. Barton said...

are there any express airdelivery services in place yet?

lostpastremembered said...

May I just say, I would love to come and play with your oven... what a joy it must be. Playing with wood types, green vs dry and temp is such good fun. Do we know if the ancient ovens were tight or loosely joined? Hard to tell hundreds of years on....

Ken Albala said...

Hey Deana, Ancient ovens are usually just made of clay, straw and sand, molded by hand and fired in place. Which means they crack often and need constant repair. I'm hoping this one never will. Mostly because the brick fit together, but are fairly small.

Will Huenink said...

How about using it as a kiln? I don't know a thing about firing clay, but the idea appeals to me—is it practical?

Ken Albala said...

Hey Will. Kilns and ovens are really very different. A kiln has a separate fire box, is built of refractory clay and gets up around 2,000 degrees. It's also sealed before firing and takes a day or more. Ovens are kittens compared to the lion of a kiln - and the latter technology at least in the West only goes back to the late middle ages - for stoneware that is.