First firing up of the Wood-Fired Oven for 2012:
Well, what wierd Spring weather. Sunshine in March, then April! Literally one minute the sun is shining, the next minute the rain and even hail is thundering to the ground. But I wanted to spring-clean the Wood-Fired oven, and give it it’s first firing of this springtime. So in scruffy clothes (you get very dusty and grubby doing this – or is it just me?) I took off the insulated cover from my lovely terracotta Beehive oven, crossing my fingers that it had survived the winter. Thank goodness it was, as they say in Yorkshire, in ‘good nic’.
Next step was preparing to light up for the first time this spring. The first firing of the wood-fired oven (after a long rest) must be gentle, just a warming up of its walls. Not too fierce, which could crack the double-skinned walls, but a gentle teasing of heat to remind it that it has work to do. It’s a great way to use up all the old newspaper. Just roll it up and tie into ‘knots’, place in the centre of the oven floor, pick some very dry kindling and have ready some medium pieces of seasoned hardwood. (Thank heavens for our lovely friend, theatrical designer/engineer turned Tree surgeon, Matt, who has supplied our Wood store with wonderful wood recently).
Next job, lighting the paper. (Never used firelighters or liquid, it will taint the brick or clay walls, and leave a taste on your food.) Light 3 or 4 ‘knots’ of paper, and watch whilst it takes hold. Place one or two medium pieces of seasoned wood gently on the paper and kindling, using long tongs.
Generally, if all the kindling and wood is dry and well seasoned, the oven lights up quickly. Very soon you need to have fire-proof gloves and long tongs to place more pieces of wood in the centre of the oven. Keep the fire small, not fiercely roaring .
Before long, the fire is going well, and I let the ashes go gray before I add just another log on, and let it blaze gently for an hour or so. If I was going to cook with it, I would push the fire towards the back of the oven, so that the flames would curl up the back and into the centre, that way giving you a great heat. But this was just its first warming up fire, to get it used to being warm. (The white crack is where the outer skin developed a tiny crack, so although it doesn’t look too pretty, the fire cement has done its protective work.) The heat from the fire was welcome on a miserable day – see below.
Fizzy took a liking to the oven, especially the warmth. And no doubt when we cook pizzas (take only 1 minute 30 seconds for one pizza to cook) she will be snorfling around for anything dropped on the ground. So the Wood-fired oven is now ready to go, and this year we are going to cook everything we can think of in it, and experiment like mad. After all, this way of cooking is the original way, and food does taste incredible cooked in the oven. Erik is going to make his bread in it, and I will cook meat, fish, vegetable, desserts ….. and anything I can put my hands on.
So, the first firing up of the Wood-Fired Oven for 2012 was a success. No more cracks, and a gentle fire to wake it up. Roll on warm spring and summer days, and look out for flavoured smoke signals and amazing aromas rising up into the East Yorkshire skies. Can’t wait!!
Also if you want to see an AMAZING oven that travels the country check this out; http://www.thepizzafarm.co.uk/