First baked dinner

Dinner was great, baked halibut w/ herbs; baked acorn squash and spuds, bread and pumpkin pie. Pretty well filled the oven.

Log of the process:

  • 2:15 light fire with lots of 1×3 and 1×1 size material (7-8 of the 1×3). dark smoke, creosote smells. tried putting on the oven door, but the smoke got worse.
  • 2:45 clear smoke, finally got all that wood burning well. Door propped ajar, coals are white hot. Should have started with 1/2 the amount of wood until the oven started to warm.
  • 2:55 soot burning off the inside of the oven, added 3 pieces of wood 2.5″ diameter and 14″ One piece proved to be green and hissed for 15 minutes.
  • 3:00 still cold and damp on the outside of the oven
  • 3:15 still cold and damp outside, clear smoke, all wood burning well or already coals, added 2×6 and 2×4 elm pieces (these were a mistake, as we will see). Wooden oven door is charing where cob is not protecting it from the fire’s heat. (Cob will need repair by February)
  • 4:20 fire all raked out into metal trash can, burned paint off can, burned oven mitt. Too many coals
  • 4:25 swabbed brick with wet rag. Closed damper in flue, put wet rag on inside of door to make it seal tighter. Rag over chimney as extra damper. Its very hot in the oven, thermometer goes to 600 and is pegged
  • 5:10 put in fish, pie, spuds and squash. Bread shaped but still rising.
  • 5:20 bread in, 400 degrees. Oven is steaming from roof, chimney and door.
  • 6:00 everything out, oven still 325


  • Start with a smaller fire to begin warming the oven, adding wood incrementally. Stop adding wood more than an hour before oven is ready, the white hot coals will continue to heat the oven for quite a while.
  • Get a Weber grill to catch the hot coals, plan food to BBQ on the grill while the oven is baking.
  • Have a plan for what to do with a hot oven when the baking is finished. At 10PM oven is still 225. Crackers? Slow cooked roast?

Much as I discovered some of the vertical integration that comes from hewing timber and doing timber frame joinery for building (in terms of the by-product scraps), and in a similar vein, the vertical integration of using scraps from my sawmill for heating, I can see that there are integrations to be made with this kind of small-wood burner, the size wood the oven burns is a size I’ve always thought was too small to be useful – which is important to note.

There are also integrations to be made among the kinds and timing of foods that are cooked in the oven.

Were the oven in an enclosed space the waste heat would also be significant for heating. Waste heat in the flue might be used to warm water, though my current design would require a pump to move the water up to the chimney and back.

3 Responses to “First baked dinner”

  1. Theron Says:

    Hey Nils,
    I like this model of reflection. I get lost in long narratives. This allows me not only to replicate the process but to get an idea of your assumptions and context along the way. One thing I am curious about is how the bread turned out. How did it measure up to your expectations for crumb, crust, texture, flavor, liveliness of the levain. What changes would you make from what you learned?

  2. nils_peterson Says:

    If you were not sicker than a dog this last weekend we would have invited you over. The bread was good (made by former baker at the Co-op). The change I need to make is to do the bread making myself so that I’m more in tune with the process.

    Actually, I think I’ll make pita’s in the oven as my next baking exercise. I’ve gotten pretty good at those in the regular oven.

  3. One small step for man » Blog Archive » Drying oven, more experiments Says:

    […] 45 minutes the bread was beautiful and the temp read 350F (disappointing, given my first experience with how long the oven stayed hot. Did the earlier bonfire approach get a lot more heat into the […]

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