Below are a few recipes that have worked well in our wood-fired masonry oven. We invite us to submit your own tried and true wood-oven recipes to be included on this page.
BASIC RECIPE FOR HEARTH-BAKED BREAD (Start the previous day!) Ingredients 3 c flour (all white, or 1⁄2 and 1⁄2 white and whole wheat) 1⁄4 tsp dry yeast 1 1⁄2 tsp salt 1 5/8 c (approximate) water (+ 1 extra Tablespoon for yeast) Optional: 1/2 tsp cardamon or 1/2 tsp fresh grated lemon rind. Seeds for topping. (sesame, pumpkin, sunflower, caraway)
Directions: Mix yeast with 1 tablespoon warm water and set aside for 5 minutes to “proof” it. Mix the flour, salt and water together. Add the proofed yeast mixture. Knead vigorously by hand for 10 minutes. (or about 4 minutes by machine.) Cover with plastic wrap or a large plate, and let set for at least 8 hours (or overnight). Remove from bowl and form into a ball. Let it set another 2-3 hours in a bowl. Punch down dough 1 hour before baking, roll it in topping seeds if desired, and let it rise one last time in a bowl or a basket that has been dusted with flour to prevent sticking. Bring it to the Community Oven 30 minutes before the announced bake time. Contributed by Linda Romero Criswell
NO KNEAD BREAD WITH SUNDRIED TOMATO AND ASIAGO CHEESE adapted for use in the Community Oven
3 c bread flour 1 ¾ tsp salt ¼ tsp instant yeast 1 c finely grated Asiago cheese 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes (hydrated or packed in oil but be sure to drain and pat dry with a paper towel before adding) 2 T basil. If you are using fresh, chop fine 1/8 c wheat germ 1/8 c ground flaxseed meal 1/8 c organic oat bran 1 1/3 c water
Add all dry ingredients into a large bowl and whisk together.Add sundried tomatoes and mix together with your hand.Add the slightly warmed water and mix together with a wooden spoon until all is combined.Cover with a plastic wrap and put aside for 12 to 18 hours.I prefer 18.
Dust a parchment lined cooking sheet with flour and set aside.Carefully pour out dough onto a floured surface.Dust the top and lightly pat the dough into a ball.Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for about 20 minutes.You may need to dust a little more flour on your board for this next step.Stretch the dough into a rectangle and fold one side half way over.Do the same to the other side.Now fold from the short side of the dough to the middle and the other side over it.Place dough seam side down onto the well-floured parchment paper.The bread will bake for about an hour in the oven, give or take.Bring lots of fresh butter and enjoy. Contributed by Theresa Nieslanik
Making Bread with Wild Yeast by Linda Romero Criswell
Wild yeast makes the best artisan bread, a crusty loaf that is chewy and delicious. With thousands of strains of wild yeast in the air, each growing at a different rate, the bread will produce holes of various sizes and shapes, not a regular, uniform crumb. This is good. There are many ways to "get" wild yeast. This one is the most fun.
Harvesting the yeast Day One: Put 2 cups of warm (not hot) water and 2 cups of white flour into a large glass or plastic mixing bowl and stir it with a wooden spoon or with your fingers, breaking up the lumps. It should be thick and wet, like pea soup. Now, take the mixture for a walk around the premises. Go outside and walk with it around your house, yard or garden. Stop for a few moments under a tree or beside a bush. Enjoy yourself. Walk through some flowers. There is yeast out there, in the air, and you want it to land on your flour and water mixture and begin to grow. If you wish, gently touch a few leaves or flowers and stir the mixture again with your fingers. This picks up wild yeast, too. Set the bowl somewhere outside for a few hours if possible, if the temperature is above freezing. Cover it with a loose-weave fabric or cheesecloth to keep out insects. Now, bring the bowl inside the house. I like to leave mine on the kitchen table where I can observe its changes. Nourishing your mixture Here is where faith comes in. Have faith that some wild yeast found your mixture and will start feeding on it. It will. Day two: In the morning, examine your flour/water “soup.” There will be some irregularities on the surface of it. Look for bubbles of various sizes. Observe places where air bubbles have risen up and popped on the surface, leaving tiny traces. There may be a little activity or a lot, but even the presence of a few air bubbles are enough to indicate that your mixture has attracted some wild yeast. Time to feed your living goop! I do this is the mornings, starting on now, on Day Two. Add to your mixture approximately 1 cup of warm water and 1 cup of white flour. Stir it, preferably with your fingers. Cover it again with a cloth. Start calling it by another name: LEAVEN. This is an exciting time. Within a few hours, you’ll notice more activity in your mixture. The yeast is digesting this new food you’re given it, is growing and producing carbon dioxide, which forms the bubbles you see. It will continue to feed until it runs out of something to eat, and then the yeast will rest. The bubble activity will probably (but not always) cease during the night, and by the next morning it might seem dormant. Don’t worry. It’s just napping. Day Three, morning: Time for another feeding! Add another cup of white flour and cup of warm water, and stir it with your fingers again. At this point or the following day, some bakers prefer to discard half the mixture because they think they’re getting too much of it. I keep mine, though. As it did on Day Two, the mixture will bubble up slowly over a period of a few hours and then settle down. Day Four: Repeat Day Three’s process today, and perhaps for another day, until you feel like your yeast mixture, your leaven, is trained. How can you tell? Because it responds when you feed it. It responds to its schedule. Making the bread Bake Day: Don’t feed your leaven this morning. It’s expecting you to, but on this day you’ll use it in your bread-making. Follow an artisan recipe that calls for ingredients to be weighed (not measured in cups.) I recommend Chad Robertson’s Tartine Bread recipe. SKIP THE FIRST PART, about the making the starter/leaven. You’ve already done that. The Tartine Bread recipe seems long and complicated, but after you make it a few time you’ll get into the rhythm of the process. You’ll also learn that you can retard the rising of the dough by putting the whole business in a cool place (like the refrigerator) if you want to bake later in the day. You’re the boss now (kind of). Well, actually, you’re part of a team, you and the wildly diverse yeast you gathered, nourished and trained. If you have extra leaven after making your dough, you can put it into the compost or save it in a jar in the refrigerator. The next time you want to use it, you should “train” it for several days again before making the dough. Bread is very versatile and forgiving. You do not need to use a special brand or grade of flour. You do not need distilled water or a special oven. Use what you have. Start simply. When you make your bread, use regular salt, not coarse-ground. Beginners, use mostly white flour. Follow these directions before you try to change them. Make the bread. Taste it. Make some more and taste it again. Learn the basics and observe your bread before you get too fancy with it. Enjoy your delicious successes one attentive step at a time. Keep baking at home to learn how bread behaves under ideal conditions. Then...bring some dough to the oven for a bake! Here, the conditions will be more variable and your crust will probably be darker and chewier. People have been baking bread for thousands of years in ovens like the Carbondale Community Oven...it works!