Sunday, April 09, 2017

Cob oven wood-fired baking

This past weekend we had our first spring-like days for April.  We wanted to spend all our time outside soaking up the sun and doing all those spring yard and garden prepping projects: planting the grow tunnel, cleaning the hen yard, clearing mulch off garden beds.  It was also the perfect opportunity for baking in the cob oven.  (Cob is a building material made of = clay + sand + straw)

The cob oven is situated right beside our main garden, also next to a wood storage shed, and only a few steps from the kitchen - all important factors that were planned out when we designed the oven so that the fires are easy to tend, and baking is simple to do, while we can also work on other projects nearby.  In the warmer months, we usually bake at least once a week - for sourdough breads and for pizza night.  We've had our oven for 11 seasons now, and have learned a few things over the years about baking in a wood-fired oven.  We know how long to fire up the oven before it's ready for baking, we know it burns best with small to medium pieces of hardwood but can do well with any manner of scrap wood (untreated) and twigs & branches from the yard, and we know where to position the baked goods so they bake evenly, we know how to avoid smoke in the face (most cob ovens don't have a chimney so they rely on convection to keep the smoke rising properly), and we know what we might have designed differently if we built another oven (more insulation material underneath to retain heat).   We know that a shelter overtop of a cob oven is crucial for the oven to hold up over time - cob ovens don't fare well with rain and snow.  We know how to patch the oven if it develops a crack (and it will).  We know that cob is incredibly fun, forgiving, beautiful, timeless and very affordable to work with! 

Want to learn more?  Join our cob oven workshop this coming Saturday (only a few spots left), or look for future cob oven workshops this summer and fall.  Or look for Kiko Denzer's book, Build your own Earth Oven.  This is a great book to help answer all the questions about designing, building and firing a cob oven of your own.

And so it was the perfect weekend, with the most amazing pizza fresh from the cob oven - including a nettle pesto (use this favourite recipe and substitute nettles or other herbs for basil) with wild-harvested first spring nettles.  Yum!

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