I had a spontaneous play date with Big Bill my clay oven on Saturday. Over 3 hours, we made 6.5Kg of bread and 2 cakes.
We finally gave Big Bill a new chimney top about 2 weeks ago. Doesn’t he look nice with his new hat?
I fired up Big Bill at 1pm, and started making dough as well. Because the play date was rather spontaneous, I used 1.5 teaspoons of dried yeast as well as 1/3 cup of sourdough starter in every Kg of dough I made. Around 3pm, the oven was ready for baking, but my dough still needed more time to rise, so I kept a small but steady fire going. At 4pm, I decided the dough were ready. So I shaped 6x500g loaves, swept out the oven, and started with baking two focaccia.
I normally like my focaccia rather thick, but I made thin ones this time for a change. They only took 10 minutes with the oven around 270C. I had to bake them with the door open because the oven was simply way too hot at this stage. One focaccia baked right on the oven hearth started burning on the bottom pretty much as soon as I put it into the oven, so I kept the other one in the tray and that came out much better. The thin focaccia are apparently more traditional in northern Italy, and I found it much more suited to be enjoyed as a snack than used in a meal. Its minimal thickness somehow disguises its rather alarming rate of disappearance…
Then I made a plum and cardamon schiacciata, which is like a sweet sandwiched pizza. It baked for 15 minutes at ~250C.
Then it’s time for 4x300g ciabatta and one of the 500g loaves. I decided to try making smaller portions of bread, and found them much easier to handle. They baked for 30 minutes at ~230C.
Then it’s the other 5x500g loaves’ turn to puff up in the oven. I made three different types: roasted garlic and thyme, onion and poppy seeds, and rye, cocoa and sesame loaves. They baked for 40 minutes around 220C. I was a little worried the garlic and onion loaves were a bit over proofed again, but they came out beautifully with soft open crumbs.
At 6:15pm, I finally stuffed Big Bill with two plum and ricotta cakes, which I promised for a BBQ I meant to attend at 6pm… I’ve been baking with Big Bill for nearly 5 years, and I still forget how much time it takes to shovel things in and out of Big Bill… These cakes came out at 7pm under my anxious eyes.
Before we left for the friend’s BBQ with a cake and a loaf of bread, I stuffed Big Bill with two chicken, a pot of tomato and capsicum chutney, and a tray of eggplants, capsicums and some tomatoes to roast.
On the second day, I brought the tomato and capsicum chutney to boil on the stove then jarred them up (~10 litres). I also turned the roasted eggplants, capsicum and tomatoes into a chutney (~5 litres) similar to this green tomato chutney I made last year. Now I have a healthy supply of chutney maturing in the cupboard to last me through the winter.
A good supply of these yummies gave us plenty of energy for a day of rock climbing up Mt Bradley, wrapping up a fabulous weekend.
(Click on images for enlargements.)