Sourdough, sourdough, sourdough, oh yea, sourdough!

Baking in the Basement Woodstove!


Earlier I mentioned I wanted to try to bake in the woodstove in the basement where I am living. It looks like this: (Wouldn’t it inspire you to try baking in it?)

It has been cold here as of late, so I fired it up and ran it all night long. There were some nice coals in the morning.

I had some Mill Grain bread proofing in my Brod and Taylor proofer: (not sure how I ever did without the proofer)


I started another small fire to get the oven hotter. The fire lasted about three hours. Then I raked out the largest coals. It was over 800F, went off the scale actually.



I waited only half an hour and it was already at 500F. I worried about that but I put the dough onto the stone (which broke in two places).



The above picture was without a flash, the same one below is with a flash:


I tested the temperature when the bread had been baking for 20 minutes because I could tell it wasn’t hot enough. It was already at 250F after such a short time. I left the bread in and shut the door and allowed it to “bake” for about two hours, since I had business in town.


When I got back, the bottom of the loaf was nicely brown and crunchy, the top never did get brown, but the loaf seemed baked through. The crust was nice and crunchy all around and the crumb was nice too. Not only did the top not brown but the oven spring was abysmal. Also the loaf did not hold it’s shape, not sure why that happened except the stone broke in two places and was uneven.

Well I wanted to see if it would work, but I know now,  that unless I line it with a type of brick that holds the heat, it is not a suitable baking oven. The heat fell off quickly inside the stove, but the surrounding bricks hold a gentle warmth for quite a while. Perhaps if I would have placed the loaf in when it was at the 800F mark, it would have done better.


I do have fun with these experiments. I hope you have fun with your baking experiments as well!

Happy Baking!



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  1. kollin kollin
    March 7, 2012    

    It looks fine!
    How about the taste, is this bread came out more delicious than the other one (from the electric oven)? :)

    • northwestsourdough northwestsourdough
      March 7, 2012    

      Yes, it was very much nicer in my opinion. I am a crust person and I like a good crunchy, chewy, thick crust… it was all of that.

  2. March 8, 2012    

    Darn it Theresa are you teasing us with that cool basement oven :-)

  3. March 13, 2012    


    I love the idea of lining my existing woodstove fireplace insert with some firebrick and baking bread in it on a cold winter day (even though my fireplace insert is not so bread-friendly oven-like as your basement fireplace is, and the look of mine didn’t inspire me to do so before this). What sort of baking stone (how thick was it), that it broke in the heat? I assume you lit the fire on top of it, so it was exposed to the 800+ degrees – but possibly you just placed a cold stone into a hot oven?

    Thinking “How would I do this with my woodfire insert?”, my thoughts ran thus:”I’ll have to put a layer of firebrick down before lighting the fire, and stand some firebrick on edge, all the way around” and “How will I put the temporary firebrick so that it arches over the loaf to provide downward heat?” and “perhaps a baking stone on top of the firebrick” and “but what if it cracks?” and “If I line the stove with that much firebrick, will there be enough room for wood, or later, bread?” and “for me, this wouldn’t work, dammit!” but then “Hey, one of my cast-iron Dutch Ovens will probably fit into the fireplace insert just fine…” and on and on.

    Thanks for the ideas, loved the look of your bread — very rustic and inviting — and very clever of you to radically extend the length of the baking in a rapidly cooling oven.

    Great blog!

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