One of my resolutions for 2014 involves several challenges, the ultimate end goal being to produce one truly kick-ass loaf of wood-fired sourdough bread. Well. Hopefully more than one. But I would be quite content with a single life-changing loaf. The kind with a golden crunchy crust, a moist and chewy crumb with those marvellous bubbles of air that butter so delightfully melts and seeps into. So far, I've managed several bricks. Tasty, somewhat handsome, probably very nutritious little bricks, mind you, but bricks nonetheless. I am still in the early stages of experimenting with sourdough in my kitchen oven and I have my work cut out for me.
One of the key components to achieving my resolution will be to build my own wood-fired oven. Something I learned how to do at this year's Kneading Conference, but have yet to execute. Then, it would be rather nice to learn how to use that oven properly. I know that will come with time, patience, and practice. But there's something else that is going to be indispensable in this adventure with fire. It's The Bible. The wood-fired baker's bible that is. Richard Miscovich's From The Wood-Fired Oven.
This book is an epic oeuvre. Or as a friend who was leafing through the book exclaimed, "this book is hard-core!" Indeed. It's the kind of book that I know will inevitably become tattered and worn (the highest praise that can ever be showered on a book) from a lifetime of consulting it. It really is the ultimate reference for anyone interested in learning how to cook with a wood-fired oven.
Photo of the author by JonathanBeller.Com
And while I know this book will help me achieve the wood-fired sourdough loaf of my dreams, let's be clear, we're not only talking about bread here. You see, Richard Miscovich is a genius, and he shows us how to use a wood-fired oven to its fullest potential. That is to say, aside from outstanding pizzas and breads (which are certainly not overlooked), the book opens up a whole world of mouth-watering concoctions that (who would have ever known) can be prepared in a wood-fired oven. Everything from braised vegetables to baked beans to beef jerky to dried herbs and infused oils. The secret is in learning how to use of the oven's whole range of temperatures from its peak heat to its slow cool-down. If you love cooking with fire, or have ever been curious about it, you must own this book, no way around it.
Photo by Richard Miscovich
So for all you wood-firing lovers, be sure to enter this month's giveaway which is kindly sponsored by the amazing folks at Chelsea Green Publishing. (Only residents of the United States are eligible for this one). Bonne chance!
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