Dark whole wheat spelt sourdough bread with sunflower seeds

This is my third bread baked in the wood oven. If the first 2 were a bit burned, this one I managed to do it better.
As I mentioned before, the tricky part in baking the bread in the wood oven is to get the right temperature for both the air inside the oven and the floor.
Even before buying the wood oven I have made some researches regarding what it should be done when the oven is hot. I have seen people removing the charcoal from the oven, cleaning the floor with a wet cotton towel and then putting the bread inside. This looks quite complicated, considering that you have to handle burning charcoal and then clean inside the oven where the oven is so hot.
I also discovered that there is not necessary to remove the charcoal from the oven and is enough to move it to the side. This is also keeping the oven hot for longer time and avoids any mishandling of burning charcoal.
The second part was about cleaning the floor. I thought (as nobody was mentioning otherwise) that the cleaning of the floor before putting the loaves inside was to avoid that the bread collects ashes on the bottom. This is indeed correct, but there is another reason why: to reduce the temperature of the oven floor and to add a bit of steam in the oven. There are people who dislike having ashes on the bottom of the bread loaves but no matter if you like it or not, ash on the bottom of your bread is not dangerous for health unless it comes from burned chemically treated wood (wood that I do not advise anyway to use for cooking). This reason has in fact more sense and this is what I have tried with this bread. First I moved the burning charcoal to the left side of the oven (as I did with the first 2 breads as well), then, with a tool (made from 2 sticks nailed in a T shape) I have removed any rough traces of charcoal and ashes. In the end, I have put on top of this tool used a wet cloth and clean the oven floor. I have measured the temperature of the oven floor with a infrared thermometer both before and after this operation and actually it has reduced the temperature from 350ºC to 270ºC. This was what made the difference in avoiding burning the bottom of the bread.
The next step was to put the bread inside using a long peel and close the oven almost completely (both the oven door and chimney door) to conserve the heat inside. When you close the oven the temperature goes instantly higher (remember that the charcoal is still inside the oven). Closing the oven completely removes the oxygen inside and the charcoal will stop burning and starts smoking. What I did, was to let the holes in the oven door just a bit open so the burning still continues even during the bread baking. When I am talking about burning charcoal I am referring to the hot wood that has yellow-red color not to the wood on flames. As for making a barbeque, it is expected to wait until the flames are gone before cooking your food. A flaming wood releases a very high temperature and what you need in the oven is a moderate and constant one.

I reached in the end not have a burned crust for the bread. Although the bread was ready in only 30 minutes, in my opinion it could have been taken out 5-10 minutes earlier, or the temperature reduced more before putting the loaves inside the oven. The result was a well risen bread (and that even if it was more a whole wheat bread) and a well cooked crust and crumb. What I didn't achieve with this bread was a shiny crust and deep bread ears... but this, maybe with the next bread.
There is another thing that I would like to mention about a wood fire oven: it is economic and efficient. With only 2 logs I cook 3 pizzas, 3 breads and I can even continue to cook something at around 200ºC for about an hour after. So far, every time I baked bread I also cooked the 3 pizzas. Baking bread works perfectly in combination with bread baking as the pizza needs a high temperature for only 2-5 minutes to be cooked. Making pizza in a wood oven is very simple (not like in the case of bread :) ) and you gain a beautiful crust with a smokey and incredible taste. I'll post in the future some pizza recipes explaining also how to bake it in a wood oven.

  • 703ml warm water (35ºC)
  • 225ml white sourdough (100% hydration)
  • 306g spelt flour
  • 600g whole wheat flour
  • 200g white bread flour
  • 20g sea salt
  • 17g gluten (optional)
  • 100g pumpkin seeds
  • 20g barley malt extract

  1. 11:30AM Mix all ingredients with a standing mixer.
  2. 11:45AM Put a cover to the mixing bowl and let the dough rise for the first fermentation. The necessary time for the first fermentation depends on the outside temperature. If the dough has raised twice its level then you can go to the next step.
  3. 16:00 Divide the dough in 3 and shape them in oblong breads.
  4. 16:15 Let the bread raise for the second fermentation. The timing for the second fermentation also depends on the outside temperature. Test the dough with your finger: press gently the dough with the finger and if it is slowly coming back then, the dough is ready to be baked. 
  5. 18:00 Bake the bread. I baked this bread in my wood oven that has been fired 45 minutes before. If you use a conventional oven, preheat the oven and bake 15 minutes at 270ºC and continue for another 30 minutes at 220ºC.


Post a Comment