Here at Frattoria Barbialla Nouva, an agriturismo in Tuscany Italy, they make bread for their guests that stay on the farm in a beautiful wood fired oven! My WWOOF duties was to assist the baker in making bread from start to finish. We baked off 14 loaves of bread and 6 pizzas this day. I was so excited to see how the ovens work first hand.
What is a wood fired oven and how does it work?
These are ovens that use wood as fuel for baking or cooking. The oven we baked in is a called a black oven which is heated by burning wood in the chamber until the wood burns down to hot coals.
Then the food is cooked in that same chamber alongside the fire while it is still going, or in the heated chamber after the fire and coals have been racked out.
After the coals are raked out, the oven gradually cools over a period of hours or even days. Once fired up the oven is hot and can reach 1000 degree Fahrenheit. The heat in the oven may be used to cook multiple batches of bread, or foods requiring different temperatures that can be cooked in succession as the oven temperature slowly drops. They are as versatile as any conventional oven, and can do so much more. Not only can they bake beautiful breads, turn out golden vegetables and roast meat or poultry, but cooking next to an open fire brings out unique flavors in every dish.
Tip: An old Italian tradition was to throw a bit of semolina flour on the floor of the oven- if it gets black in 5 seconds it’s perfect baking temperature for a rustic loaf of bread.
The bread and pizza we baked off was so delicious. The rustic bread had a crunchy thick crust with a delicate tender crumb.
Cooking in these ovens forces you to slow down, to reconnect with food and work with nature. All I have to say is I love it. I want one and I am going to have my hubby build me one. 🙂