If you love bread — real, fresh, from the hearth-style bread — and if you love to make bread at home, then I'll bet at some point you've fantasized about baking bread in your own backyard wood-fired oven. Right? You probably threw a few pizzas in there while you were at it, and then went on to tuck in a beef roast so it could slowly braise while the oven cooled. I mean, who wouldn't? Well, if you want to take a step closer to that dream, then be sure that you put RIchard Miscovich's From the Wood-Fired Oven on your required reading list.
• Who wrote it: Richard Miscovich
• Who published it: Chelsea Green
• Number of recipes: Over 50
• Recipes for right now: Pita and Za'atar Bread; Cranberry Pecan Buttermilk Scones; Cinnamon Spiral Pain de Mie; Smoked Pork Belly; Sprouted Wheat Power Bars; Pound Cake
• Other highlights: There's the dream of owning a backyard wood-fired oven and then there's the reality. It's not that the reality is bad, but it's important to know just what you're getting into when you consider building and cooking from this amazing older technology. From the Wood-Fired Oven covers it all.
In Part One: Ovens and Fire, Miscovich explores the many types of wood-fired ovens, discusses fuel, necessary tools, and how the ovens work. In Part Two: Bread Baking, he drills down the particulars of making bread in a wood-fired oven. In Part Three: Using the Full Heat Cycle, he offers recipes and techniques for using the oven's extreme heat in the beginning (pizza!) and the various stages as it slowly cooks down to temperatures for roasting meats and veg, then bread, pastries, pies, and cakes, and onto toasts, baked beans, rendering fats. The final chapter in this section explores the long, slow process of drying food and making stock.
Scattered throughout the book are sidebars and small sections featuring people in the wood-fire oven community, running along the spectrum from professional bakers to backyard enthusiasts. Their stories and accompanying photographs are helpful and inspiring. If they can do it, so can you!
There is quite a lot of information in this book, so much so that at first you may feel intimidated. Will the dream of pulling fresh loaves of delicious bread from your back yard oven start to stumble under the strain of how much there is to understand and absorb? Maybe. But that's why From the Wood-Fired Oven is an important book. These are the things you need to know before venturing into such a big project. And anyway, like a lot of books about technique, it can take pages to explain what will soon come naturally to anyone who takes up the task with enthusiasm and care.
This is a well made book, with a colorful matte cover and a sturdy, flexible binding. There are dozens of full color photographs to instruct and inspire. Richard Miscovich is an expert in the subject and has taught many classes and workshops throughout the country, including in his role as Associate Professor at the College of Culinary Arts at Johnson and Wales University. He is also a frequent instructor at King Arthur Flour's Baking Education Center.
• Who would enjoy this book? Anyone who wants to take the dream of having a wood-fired backyard oven closer to reality. Also, there's a lot of information on bread making, hydration, etc. so bread geeks may want to take a look, too.
Find the book at your local library, independent bookstore, or Amazon: From the Wood-Fired Oven by Richard Miscovich
• Visit the author's website: Richard Miscovich
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did give us the product for testing and review purposes.
(Image credits: Dana Velden)