No bread is an island

...entire of itself. (With apologies to John Donne!)
I live and breathe breadmaking. I’m an evangelist who would like everyone to make his or her own bread. I want to demystify breadmaking and show it as the easy everyday craft that it is. To this end I endeavour to make my recipes as simple and as foolproof as I possibly can.

I call my blog 'No bread is an island' because every bread is connected to another bread. So a spicy fruit bun with a cross on top is a hot cross bun. This fruit dough will also make a fruit loaf - or Chelsea buns or a Swedish tea ring...
I'm also a vegan, so I have lots of vegan recipes on here - and I'm adding more all the time.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Chiminea firings of 2012: Number 10 - 22/9/12

This was last year's tally!

I hope to do much better this year - now that I (more or less) know what I'm doing!

Saturday 22nd September.
I've had the chiminea fired up several times, making notes as I go - and then never got round to writing them up! To make up for that in some small way, I thought I'd write my notes directly into this thread - then I'd have no excuse.

Spent Saturday afternoon doing some chores, which took longer than I anticipated so I didn't begin until 4.30:

4.50 600g of pizza dough made and covered with the upturned bowl
4.54 Beer poured, fire lit and piled high with wood
5.15 1st load of charcoal in - off to shape pizzas
5.25 Pizzas rolled out
5.28 2nd load of charcoal in
5.39 Coals nicely reddening, so the 1st pizza went in - after 2 minutes the bottom was done - put small roasting tray with water in and put pizza back in top of that (to prevent the bottom burning)
5.53 2nd pizza in
5.59 2nd pizza changed round
6.08 3rd pizza ditto
6.13 4th pizza in
6.16 Pizza moved
6.30 Soda bread in
6.50 Fire dying down, soda bread finished

The recipe I followed was pretty much the same as in the OP.

Using the water-filled roasting tray pretty much solved the problem of the underneath of the pizzas burning - my wife says it's the best pizza I've made yet!

[Pics to come, shortly]

Saturday 30th June.
Not a bad day, with just the odd shower forecast. I intended to make half a dozen pizzas using about 150-160g of dough each - so I made about 1kg of dough altogether, straight after lunch.

I set out to chop the kindling at 3.28, and by 3.25 the fire was well alight. I gave it two loads of wood and at 3.53 I covered the fire with the first load of charcoal. 15 minutes later I once again banked up the fire with as much charcoal as I could get in there.

The first pizza went in at 4.23 and I used a piece of hardboard to protect the base for the first 2 minutes. After a further 3 minutes it was done and the second one went in. This was exactly an hour after I'd begun.

Vegan pizza at the top and my wife's potato pizza - she just doesn't like tomato in any form!

At 4.43 the third pizza went in - by now I was putting the pizzas in straight onto the oven floor initially, for a couple of minutes, then using the hardboard (soaked in water) to prevent the bottom burning.

2 more vegan pizzas

By 5.03 the last pizza had gone in, which took about 8 minutes. So, half a dozen pizzas in just over an hour and a half - i was well pleased.

And, finally, 2 cheese and tomato pizzas

Finally, since there was still a lot of heat in the fire, I knocked up a quick soda bread focaccia which took about 12 minutes. (with only 3 or 4 minutes to mix and shape the dough, the loaf was done in around 15 minutes!)
I meant to add some fresh rosemary from the garden - but completely forgot. No matter, it was a tasty loaf! 

I'll insert the links to these recipes  as soon as I can.

Saturday 12th May.
I made a batch of dough with 540g of white flour in preparation for a pizza-making session in the afternoon. In the event I decided to put this off for 24 hours - but my dough was too big for my food-storer and kept escaping:

This food-storer will happily contain a dough made with 700g of wholemeal flour - but not this amount of white.
I decided to make smaller pizzas - using 120g of dough. Not a good idea, I'm afraid - I rolled the dough out too thin and they weren't so good:

My wife's potato pizza - BBQ sauce, slices of cooked new potatoes, cheese and mushrooms

The top left pizza is covered with veg chilli. The rest were covered with a mix of vegan pesto,  mushroom pate  and tomato puree - along with mushrooms, tomatoes and nutritional yeast

The top one is a basic tomato and (vegan) cheese pizza, whilst the bottom one is topped with vegan polony.
I didn't fire up the chiminea hot enough - I only used one load of charcoal, when  I should have added a second one before beginning to cook. An oven thermometer would sort this problem out, I'm sure!

Friday 30th March.
Last fine day of a beautiful spell of unseasonal weather today, we're told, so I had to get the chiminea up and running again.

For various reasons I couldn't start until later afternoon,  finally managing to light up about 4.50. I wanted to push the boundaries a bit, so I'd previously made some 'No-knead, overnight bread' intending to make 3 small loaves after I'd done with the pizzas.

I made the same pizza dough as earlier, but divided it up into 6 pieces this time, rolling out the pizzas a little thinner.

In the event I made 5 pizzas, 1 calzone and only one loaf - when I ran out of charcoal, which means I've still got 2/3rds of the bread dough left which I need to bake:

Tomato sauce, vegan cheese, peppers and polony

1 potato pizza, 2 cheese and tomato and two vegan pizzas, plus one vegan calzone
Saturday 24th March.
On Friday night I made a batch of 'No-knead, overnight dough' (look for Method C) for today's pizzas, using 500g of white flour. I started shaping the pizzas around 4, and lit the fire around 4.30.

Before adding chopped sun-dried tomatoes to the dough I separated out 150g for my wife's pizza, and added half a dozen chopped SDTs to the remaining 500g, which made another 3 pizza bases

I completely cocked up the first pizza, which was a potato and cheese pizza for my wife. First I didn't check the potatoes were completely cooked - or rather, I thought they would finish cooking in the oven - they didn't!

So, after the pizza came out of the oven (fairly well burnt, I should add) I decided to completely reconstruct the topping. I picked off all the mushroom slices and set to one side, then I took the melted cheese off the top of the potatoes, which I discarded, then removed the slices of potato from the top of the pizza - which wasn't easy! I then microwaved the potatoes and put the back on the pizza - covered the potato with fresh grated cheese and replaced the mushrooms. At some stage I put the pizza under the grill to cook the cheese. My wife was none the wiser!

It looks a bit of a mess, but it was 'OK' apparently.

I covered the other three pizzas with a mix of mushroom pate, vegan pesto and tomato puree plus a liberal helping of cayenne pepper, then put roasted peppers on one, mushrooms on another and slices of tomatoes on the third:

Turning to the fire, after it was well alight, I turned the middle firebrick on its side to allow heat through to the roof of the 'mini-oven'.

I loaded up the fire-pit with wood, then, when space allowed, I covered the coals with a layer of charcoal. Around 50 minutes after the fire was lit I began cooking the first pizza - which took about 4 minutes. The second one took about the same time, but then I concentrated on the potato pizza for a while before coming back to cook the last two pizzas.

I was determined to use all the residual heat of the oven, so, while the last couple of pizzas were in the oven, I quickly knocked up a batch of wholemeal dough with ground flaxseeds, using 400g wholemeal and 100g white. This I divided in two and made two flattish cobs. Once they had risen and the oven was free, I put the first one in, which took about 15 minutes and got ever so slightly burnt. By now the heat was dying down, so I put the second on in and set the timer for 20 minutes. It was done underneath but not on top, and the oven had cooled down noticeably, so I turned the bread over and left it there. I came out about an hour later to find the bread done - but without much colour except where it had been over a gap in the oven bricks:

Quite a difference in these two loaves! I'd like to say they tasted just the same, but that's just not true! The burnt one had much more flavour. The pale one was adequate, it was good bread - but not a patch on the other.
It's been quite a while since I cooked bread in my oven, but after this I'm beginning to think I should cook all my bread in there. And not just as an afterthought when making pizzas, but all my daily bread, in a dedicated breadmaking session. I shall be talking to my friends on the UK WFO forum about this very shortly!

Wednesday 7th March.
I wanted to fire up yesterday, which was a gloriously sunny day with not a lot of wind - but it was one of my CR (calorie reduction) days, so there didn't seem much point.

And the weather today was pretty dreadful to begin with - but after lunch it brightened up and the sun began to shine, so I thought I'd go for it. The only problem was the wind, it was bitter!

I knocked up a batch of dough - with 500g of flour - around 3.00pm, and lit the fire about 4.30. I've been given loads of kindling, so I used a lot of that to begin with - then, once it got really going, I filled up the firebox with wood and piled a load of charcoal on top of that and went back inside to start shaping the pizzas.

I made 3: a potato pizza for my wife who dislikes tomato, and 2 vegan pizzas for myself - plus several vegan sizzlers.

The charcoal was well alight and ready for cooking by now, so I put the first of the pizzas in the chiminea (after  turning the middle firebrick horizontal again) around 5.15. I didn't put a timer on (when will I learn!), with the result that the bottom was burnt - it probably only took about 4 minutes and I didn't slip a piece of hardboard under the pizza to prevent it burning. The second and third went in, with hardboard, followed by the sizzlers - each batch taking a little longer than the last.

The pizzas could have been left a little longer to rise - but they rose in the oven alright.

It's difficult not to start hacking away at a pizza when it comes out of the oven!
Lessons for next time:
Use a timer!
Keep a close eye on the pizzas - especially the first one
Turn them 180 degrees halfway through cooking
Soak some pieces of hardboard
Use the hardboard from the beginning
Shape the pizzas before lighting the fire
Don't buy charcoal from a garden centre in the off-season - it cost me a bomb! Probably more than twice as much as it would buying it from a garage forecourt back in September!

Saturday 7th January.
A sunny, Saturday afternoon here in Somerset gave me all the incentive I needed to break out the chiminea and get cracking!

I made up a basic bread dough with 800g of flour and around 530g of water, and went out to start the fire.

The first thing I noticed was a distinct lack of charcoal! I'd meant to buy some after my last firing - and completely forgot! (Pause whilst I add this to my shopping list...)

However, I figured there'd be just about enough, so I lit the fire, added the 2nd lot of charcoal, with the middle floor brick on its side at 0055 and had my first pizza in at 0107. There clearly wasn't enough heat in the firepit, since this first pizza took about 12 minutes, as did the 2nd.

Two cheese, potato and mushroom pizzas and one vegan pizza with mushroom pate, pesto and mushrooms
After a pause whilst I tried to heat up the chamber by placing the middle brick on its side again for a little while, I put pizza nr. 3 in at 0142 and the 4th at 0155. The fire was beginning to die back at this stage, so I put the last of the charcoal in there and left it for a good 20 minutes or so. I managed the final pizza (forgot to keep records of timing at this stage) and then placed a sun-dried tomato focaccia in the oven.

More a flat loaf than a focaccia - and I have to come clean about the pizza: I flashed it under the grill just to finish the top 
I gave this about 20 minutes then turned it over  (the top hadn't even begun to colour) and promptly forgot it whilst we had our dinner. The bread was fine - not sure how long it was in there, but it must have been over an hour, all told. The loaf was 530g uncooked - and 430g when I brought it out!

Have to report that the chiminea is beginning to fall apart. One of the bolts holding the top oven door has sheered and the housing of the other one has fractured. I'll see if I can't get a close-up of this to show what I mean.

Thoroughly enjoyable session for the first one of the year. There's still a couple of pizzas left - and I'm munching on a slice of that loaf as I write. Very nice!


  1. found your link on the pizza making forum - so excited as you use the same chiminea as we have decided to get (in part thanks to you) for my daughter's 11th birthday and for us all, and for your vegan recipes. Thanks so much for all the tips and the recipes!

  2. Thank you for your comment, Sophie! So glad I tick two boxes for you, the chiminea amd vegan!
    Have you seen my latest chiminea post, where I think I have perfected the method absolutely:
    I must link to it in this post.
    Best wishes to you - and happy birthday to your daughter!
    Ps. I'd love to hear how you get on with the chiminea!

  3. Same for me, I was looking up the viability of cooking pizzas in a chiminea, and now I've discovered a blogger who discusses chiminea pizzas, breadmaking and vegan recipes (triple win!). I just happened to come across you through a Google search, but now, 5 mins later, you're in my internet favourites :-)

  4. Glad to hear from a fellow enthusiast!

    Please let me know how you get on! Paul