This follows on from a blog that I wrote last week when I mentioned that I had asked our friends who live up on ‘the mountain’ if I could cook in their wood fired oven at the weekend after they had made their own bread. Thankfully, their answer was positive but there was one condition – I had to help them prepare their own loaves on Sunday morning – which meant a 5.00am start. In reality, it actually meant a 3.45am start as I had to make sure my loaves had sufficient time to rise before they went into the bread oven. All I can say it thank goodness the clocks went back on Sunday!
I decided to make two loaves, one using my white loaf recipe and the other was my take on a Panettone (a Milanese Xmas cake). It was interesting to see the difference between how my white loaf recipe turns out at home and how it turned out having been cooked in a wood fired oven. The first thing I should say is normally I would have given the bread an extra 30 minutes to rise, but given the cold temperatures of the weekend I don’t think it would have risen much more. After baking and cooling I was really interested to see what kind of texture it would have. Compared to how it normally turns out, the texture was much denser, the crust was fairly soft, but overall it had a good flavour.
The Panettone is a new recipe that I have been playing around with over the last week. My first attempt produced a loaf that looked great and had the texture that I was looking for, but, the taste had a lot to be desired. So after a bit of tweaking I have come up with a recipe with which I am really happy. I decided that I wanted to bake my Panettone in an actual Panettone mould. I chatted with a couple of the local bakers and they pointed me in the direction of a professional catering shop (my idea of heaven in a store). It took A LOT of self-restraint to walk away from the shop having only bought 3 Panettone moulds… Whilst this wasn’t strictly necessary (I have baked it previously in a loose bottomed deep cake tin and it turned out fine) it was interesting to see whether it would burn in this type of oven as a paper mould had never been tried before. The mould worked brilliantly and withstood the very high temperature of the oven.
Between drinking copious amount of coffee, I learnt some really valuable skills on Sunday including how to knead and shape a flute and a baguette. I learnt how to recognise when a bread oven is hot enough (the roof of the oven turns white). I also came to appreciate how important it is to flour the bread moulds, as a correctly floured mould means the dough easier to get out and equally easier to get into the oven.
Below are some photos from my morning… (Sadly my hands were so covered with flour I wasn’t able to take any of the kneading and shaping of the dough).
The oven being warmed with a combination of oak and popular logs
This photo was taken just after more wood was added to the fire to get the temperature right up. The smoke was billowing out of the front of the fire and the heat that was being given off was impressive.
Once the wood had done its work the embers were scraped out of the oven and into a metal container which was then used to cook chestnuts for a breakfast treat.
The bread was then placed into the oven for cooking for anywhere between 35-75 minutes. Before being taken out, brushed down, ready to be taken away for breakfast.
My take on Panettone
- 250g type 55 flour (plain flour)
- 150g type 80 flour (Whole-wheat flour)
- 50g butter (melted)
- 200ml milk (warmed slightly)
- 2 eggs
- 25g fresh yeast
- 3tbsp brown sugar
- 1tsp salt
- seeds from ½ a vanilla pod
- 25g mixed peel
- 100g sultanas
- 20ml Cointreau
- zest of ½ an orange
- zest of a lemon
- beaten egg (for glazing)
1. Place the sultanas, mixed peel and zest of the lemon and orange in bowl, add the Cointreau, stir and then set aside.
2. Place the flour, salt, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl and mix together.
3. Place the yeast in a bowl, add the milk, butter and eggs and mix together well.
4. Add the wet mix into the dry mix and combine using your fingers. The dough will be fairly wet.
5. Place the dough on a floured surface and knead for a good 10 minutes (you will notice that the texture of the dough will change during this time, once you have finished kneading the dough should spring back after being pressed lightly).
6. Place the dough into a bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise for about 1 ½ – 2 hours (until it has doubled in size).
7. Knock the air out of the dough and add the sultanas, mixed peel and zest of lemon and orange.
8. Knead the dough until the fruit is evenly distributed. The shape the dough into a ball, place it in the Panettone mould, glaze with a beaten egg and then leave it to rise for the second time (1 ½ – 2 hours).
9. Place the dough in an oven that you have preheated to 190C fan and cook for 20-25 minutes. Turn the oven down slightly if you feel it is cooking too quickly and browning too much on the top. (Note: It takes bread longer to cook in a wood fired oven, as the temperature of the oven declines as the bread bakes. It took my Panettone roughly 35-40 minutes to be done.)
10. Once cooked, leave to cool completely, before serving. (I think it is always best eaten in slices with a little bit of butter.)