Thunderstorm Baking

Saturday was gorgeously sunny and hot, but with an afternoon forecast of thunderstorm, I thought it may not be the best idea to invite friends around for an outdoor wood-fired pizza evening. That didn’t stop me firing up Big Bill the clay oven though. I mixed up some sourdough in the morning, and Big Bill bread is just that much nicer than electric oven bread.

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I fired the oven up around 4pm. While Big Bill was getting hot, I made some pizza and focaccia dough, as well as shaped the sourdough loaves. Just when I made a giant pizza for Kiwi Bird and I for dinner around 6pm, rain started promptly.

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It wasn’t too much of a bother running in and out from the kitchen to relay bakings from Big Bill. The yummy wood-fried pizza was definitely worth it! (The rain never actually got very heavy.)

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Then 2 trays of fluffy focaccia baked for 20 mins at over 250C. Half of one also disappeared into our bellies promptly.

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Then all the bread went into Big Bill for 45 mins at ~220C.

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There were two loaves of soy milk pulp (the pulp of ground up soybeans left from making soy milk) and goji berry bread.

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Two loaves of fruit and nut brioche made with cultured butter, walnuts, orange peel, dried apricots, and cacao nibs.

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And two loaves of 60% wholemeal, walnuts and orange peel bread.

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This bread was about 65% hydration, and the flavour was really really nice, and most definitely to be repeated.

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Finally, a pot of chicken on sticky rice and a tray of pork belly went into Big Bill around 7:30pm. The chicken and rice were flavoured with sesame oil, soy sauce, shallots, garlics, and dried Chinese mushrooms.

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The pork belly was first marinated in garlics, shallots, thick soy sauce, white pepper, fennel seeds and coriander. I left the meat cook, covered, in Big Bill for 2 hours at about 160C.

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I was really happy to find these free range chicken and pork heavily discounted at my local grower’s market. The chicken from this particular farm is normally rather dear, but they really do taste like chicken that has spent a reasonable length of life roaming in the sun – very different from the so-called “free range” chicken from the supermarket. The chicken and rice could have been out of the oven in 1 hour. Nevertheless, it still tastes wonderful. For dinner on the following day, I warmed the chicken up gently until just warmed but not hot, cut it into pieces and dressed it, then served with reheated sticky rice. The chicken dressing was made with crushed garlics, thick soy sauce, and coriander.

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The pork belly was sliced and heated, also served with extra coriander – lip smacking yummy! I’m also very happy all these yummies from one fire took care of many meals during this week, and more still to be pulled out of the freezer other times!

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