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Ok, so that’s not actually accurate. As I have stated before, I can bake bread. It is edible, healthy and tasty. But I am on a quest to bake “really good” bread. I have access to a wood-fired oven- that is a substantial tool in the “really good” bread making process. I have several cookbooks on hand to enhance my skills and recipes. So… I’m ready to go.

Today I used the recipe for Pain Rustique from Richard Miscovich’s book, “From The Wood-Fired Oven”. I started the poolish last night, got all that bacteria jumping around and making their gases. I carefully weighed out each ingredient, hoping for a final loaf that had some resemblance to the beautiful loaves in Richard’s book. This morning the poolish looked active and ready for action.

A challenge with baking in a wood-fired oven is mastering the timing. It takes planning and experience to get the dough and the oven ready simultaneously. The oven must be fired for an extended period to saturate the mass, then tempered to create a more uniform heat environment which is often hotter than necessary, so there is waiting until the temperature decreases to the desired zone. There are things that can be prepared along the way to maximize the use of the oven heat, but that is a discussion for another day. Today it’s all about the bread. I mixed and waited,

and kneaded and waited,

and folded and waited, again and again.

Activities filled the time voids. Other foods were prepped,

an oven tended, computer work accomplished. At last the oven and dough were almost ready and… it was time to go get my kids. Drat! The oven was a little hot, the dough could have proofed a little longer… As I said, timing is tricky with a wood-fired oven. So the dough went into a steamed oven, Anna set her timer and I headed home. Upon arriving home I eagerly called Anna to see how the bread came out. Oh no! She got side tracked and the bread came out late. The word from the shop crew was that the crust was dark and hard but the inside was tasty. Ok, it was a start, but a little disappointing. Anna brought a couple loaves home to us after work and I realized I had been slightly misinformed. Those loaves looked pretty good!

A little dark, yes, but very edible. The crumb wasn’t as filled with glistening air pockets as I had hoped but there were some. -A longer final rise next time.- After making some mental notes for my next bread baking adventure, our family cut into those “decent loaves” of bread and enjoyed some tasty toast.