The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Second Time For Bread In New Cob Oven

tchism's picture

Second Time For Bread In New Cob Oven

Today I made my second attempt at baking bread in my new cob oven. I was really happy with the results!
I really wanted to expirement so I made four loaves using three starters. Last weekend I revived some Carl Griffith 1847 starter that I had dried and stored for nearly 2.5 years. I was surprised when it came right back after two feedings!!

For my two loaves I used my regular starter and made my regular recipe for sourdough but used rye flour for 5% of the total flour.
For one loaf I used the 1847 starter and made a 20% rye loaf.
For the fourth loaf I used my Australian starter and added 20% of the spelt flour I received from Australia.

All of the loaves ended up proofing for three hours out of the fridge because I had to wait a little longer for the oven to cool to baking range.

Here ar the four loaves in the oven after 17 min.

I really made an attempt to get more steam n the oven for this bake. The loaves were bigger, I sprayed water in the oven just before placing the door on and placed a damp towel around the door. All of this seemed to pay off.

The first loaf that was ready to come out was the 20% rye made with the 1847 starter.

Second out was one of the 5% rye loaves with my usual starter.

Shortly after I pulled the 20% spelt loaf with the Australian starter and spelt flour.

Last out was the second 5% rye with my regular starter. It was closest to the door so I gave it a little longer. I almost went too long with it.

This is a shot of all four along with the pizza peel I trimmed down for use in the oven with bread loaves.

Of the four loaves, we are keeping the Australian Spelt loaf. Here is a shot of the crumb. The other three loaves are going to neighbors.

The taste of this loaf is fantastic!

I'm really happy with how the oven performed today! I might have been able to get another loaf in the oven and the temps held well enough that I think I could have made two batches. That would give me a capacity of ten full size loaves in one session! Not bad for a little Earth oven! If I had room for that many loaves in my fridge I might give it a try sometime but I think I'll be limited to 4 or 5 loaves for now. :)

occidental's picture

Good looking loaves.  Thanks for sharing.

polo's picture

I'll second the lucky neighbor observation. Looks like the learning curve isn't real steep for you when it comes to using that oven.

Great job.

tchism's picture

Thank you Occidental and Polo.

It was nice to see my efforts to get more steam in the oven pay off. I was happy with the results.

Darwin's picture

I like them all, very nice.  Congrats

golgi70's picture

All look great.  I'd really like a try at the Rye.  

What temp were they baked at?


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

gotta buy 5 copies for my mother!  Gotta see your smiling steaming face!    ...on the cover of the Ro-o-oling Stone!"  


Frame those pictures! 

dabrownman's picture

why real artisan loaves, if you ask me,  require a WFO to get then just right - and all of these are just right!  Well done.  The rest of us have to keep faking it:-)

tchism's picture

I'm really enjoying the oven. The loaves went in at about 450F. The temps were a bit warmer toward the back.

Next time I'll have to break out my nicer camera and try to get more pictures.

orang3's picture


tchism's picture

For your comment!

pjkobulnicky's picture

As a former builder/owner of a cob oven I can tell you it was one of the reasons I regretted moving from that house. Baking in a WFO is really fun. It does take a bunch of firings to get the timing down right and you did a great job of being patient until the oven soaked up the high temps. Really nice loaves. Well proofed and well scored. Try some miche ... well matched to a WFO.


tchism's picture

There are a lot of things I want to try to bake or cook in this oven, a good miche is one of them!

Thaichef's picture

Hello tchism:

I usually do not look into the wood fire oven column but from now on I must look more. Your breads look awesome and I am sure that it taste great too. Everything look just perfect, the crumb, the shaping and also the scoring  beyond words. Now I must look more into "Cob Oven".  Thanks for sharing.


tchism's picture

Thank you Thaichef for you kind comments! We only kept one loaf but it was very delicious! We've been enjoying it all week.

I would recommend a cob oven to anyone that wants to try wood fired baking without the expense of building a brick oven. I'm very impressed and happy with mine. The book "Build Your Own Earth Oven" by Kiko Denzer is a must if you want to build this type of oven.

Thaichef's picture

Hello tchism:

  Thank you for your quick reply. How large is your cob oven and how long does it take you to heat your oven? Also for  the oven your size how much wood do you need in order to heat it before baking.

Thank you.


tchism's picture

Hi Thaichef,

The oven hearth is 32" diameter. The thermal mass averages 3.5 inches and the insulation layer 4-5 inches. It takes me 2.5 hours to get a good heat saturation. I base that on how long it takes for the oven to self clean the walls from the heat. I might also mention that the oven's subfloor is about 3 inches thick and the fire bricks rest on that directly. 

It takes a relatively small bundle of wood to heat it. I would estimate no more than 20 to 25 sticks of wood now larger than wrist  thickness to heat the oven. I actually can't feed more than two sticks at a time without getting some smoke. I preheat the wood which helps with quicker combustion when feeding.

After the oven has burned off all the soot in the dome, I spread the coals out over the entire floor and allow them to set for 30 to 45 min. to help spread the heat out. Then I remove the coals and place my door on for 30 min. After that the oven is has been between 650-700F. It takes a while for the heat to come down to my preferred  baking temp of about 450F. I have been helping it along with damp moping. I swirl mop which pushes any remaining ash and bits of coal to the sides and toward the front of the oven where I can remove it.



Thaichef's picture

Good morning tchism:

Thank you for your details information. I will let my husband read it and perhaps we can figure something out and have someone built it for us. I am a senior female and can not do it on my own and my husband can not either that was why I ask for picture but I can borrow the book from the library to look and study. The cob oven is what I want for Christmas but I am wondering if I would ever get one, ever. I am grateful for all your information.


tchism's picture

Hello Thaichef,

Here is are links to a video and photos of the build. I hope you get the chance to have one built.

The video:



Kneading One's picture
Kneading One

Hello tchism!

Great loaves and a very impressive sight to see! Beautiful scoring and the crusts look perfect! I am also going to build a cob/earthen oven and seeing your results gives me great motivation! I do have Kiko Denzer's book and have thus far designed the base and the oven as to what I have in mind. I researched Winco and have two that are within 10 miles of my location, so will go check them out soon for their wheat berries! Great job on the bread and the oven! Richard

tchism's picture

Hi Richard,

Just wondering if you built your oven?