Woodstove Baking, Take One

woodstove bread

Folks who know me will tell you I’m always learning to do something new.  In this case I tried something old.

I’ve been making my own whole wheat bread for a few years now, and if I may toot my own horn, it is delicious. But I’ve never tried making it without using my electric oven before. So I decided to try baking it in our woodstove. This is a wood burning fireplace insert, not a wood cook stove. Naturally my first step was to Google it. There is a serious lack of information out there on baking in a wood stove. But I adapted the things I found on hearth cooking and wood burning ovens, and got to work.

First I made a medium sized fire and let it burn down until I had what looked like enough coals. Then I pushed the larger coals to the back of the stove and made a thin, even layer of coals on the bottom of the stove near the front. Next I filled a dutch oven with about an inch of water, and placed my bread pan in the dutch oven hovering over the water. I was worried that if I put the bread pan directly in the coals the bottom would burn. I placed the dutch oven and bread pan combo on the thin layer of coals and closed up the stove.

I chose the worst possible night for my experiment as it was crazy windy. Wind kept coming down the chimney and blowing ashes up onto my loaf. It couldn’t have helped that I kept opening the doors to check on progress.

After 20 minutes I rotated the loaf so that the other side would face the larger coals at the back of the oven. After another 20 minutes I removed the loaf. While it was still in the pan it looked a little paler than when I use the electric oven, but I turned it out onto a cooling rack anyway. I could see immediately that the bottom was sinking in, indicating that the center was not done.

Since my coals were weakening, and every time I opened the woodstove I got a face full of ash from the wind, I decided to give it a few minutes in the electric oven to finish. Ten minutes later I had a slightly ashy, and not quite as lofty as usual loaf of bread. It was a little smoky, but definitely edible.

Next time I will choose a less windy night for my baking. I will also clean out the ashes, and build a bigger bed of coals to work with. Also I’ll probably be looking for a camp grill to put under my bread pan instead of the dutch oven. I’ll let you know how it turns out!

Have any of you tried alternative cooking methods?

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