Thursday, July 19, 2012

Brick Oven Mistakes to Avoid #3

Two words: Dry firewood.

In order to fire up a brick oven to baking temperatures efficiently and with the least 'campfire syndrome' (smoke everywhere), you must have dry firewood.

Hardwood is the preferred and recommended type of wood for brick ovens since it does not contain resins and the coals maintain their heat and structure longer.  Granted, many cultures burn whatever they have on-hand, but in most temperate climates, hardwood trees can be harvested for firewood.

Hardwood takes at least a year to dry and often longer.  Splitting the wood promotes drying.  If the wood you use for your oven is very dry, you will have a little smoke at the start of the fire and then none for the entire heating up.  The wood will release its BTU's efficiently and with less than a laundry basket of wood you will be able to cook for up to 50 hours.

Previous blog post showed a French baker using walnut shells to stoke the fires and olive and grape prunings are used regularly in Italy.

If you find after one baking that your wood is sizzling and oozing water from the ends, you may be able to dry a quantity out by placing the logs in the oven after the oven has cooled down to 250F.  This effectively uses the last heat of the previous baking to dry out the wood for the next.

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