Baking cakes and bread in a wood-fired oven can be a bit difficult: things tend to cook too quickly on the outside while remaining undercooked or raw inside.
To get round this, it is a good idea to cover the cake or bread with foil for most of its cooking time. It is best to use a cake tin with high sides so that the cake mixture does not stick on the foil when it rises.
Inside the wood oven
Through a process of trial and error, I have found that if a cake needs to be baked for 40-45 minutes, then what works best is to cover it with foil and bake it for 15 minutes. Have a look and if it seems to be cooking too quickly or too slowly, move it forwards or backwards in the oven. Turn it 180º and cover it again for another 15 minutes before having another look
Turn again through 180º and remove the foil. Let it cook for a further 5 minutes before checking. If it seems to be browning too quickly, replace the foil otherwise leave uncovered for another 5 minutes.
Test the cake and if it is still not done, put back in the oven for another 5 minutes.
A wood-fired oven retains the heat a lot better than a conventional oven so there doesn’t seem to be the same problem of opening the oven door and letting the heat out.
This is another recipe that doesn’t use butter. I only had a rectangular tin but next time I would make it in a smaller square tin so that it was a bit thicker.
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup boiling water
2 large eggs
2 cups brown sugar
1 1/3 cups plain flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
Oil and flour a square baking tin.
In a mixing boil, combine the cocoa and baking powder and stir in 1/3 cup oil. Add the boiling water and mix well. Whisk in the sugar, eggs and another 1/3 cup of oil.
Stir in the flour, vanilla extract and salt and mix well.
Pour into the baking tin and bake in the oven (180ºC) for 35-40 minutes.
Continuing with my quest to find new recipes that don’t use butter that we can bake in our bread oven, the other day we baked a carrot cake. It was delicious. Here is the recipe.
175g soft brown sugar
175ml sunflower oil
175g self-raising flour
3 large eggs
150g coarsely grated carrots
1 large orange, grated zest and juice
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Oil and line a cake tin.
Whisk the eggs, sugar and oil together in a mixing bowl.
Stir in the sultanas, carrot, orange zest and orange juice and then mix in the flour, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon.
Bake in an over (180ºC) for 40-45 minutes until cooked in the over. Again,if you are cooking this in a wood-fired oven, cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Turn 180º and bake for a further 15 minutes. Remove the foil and check after 5 minutes. If the top looks as though it will get too brown, replace the foil and cook for a further 5 minutes. Test and put back for another 5 minutes if necessary.
This is our second attempt at making these bars and the second batch worked out a lot better: they were a lot moister and had a lovely fruity flavour. Basically you can adapt the recipe according to what you’ve got to hand so we added some peach leather, cut into pieces.
450g rolled oats
300g dried figs, cut into pieces
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 small glass sweet sherry
Splash sunflower oil
3 eggs, beaten
3 teaspoons vanilla essence
Grated zest and juice of 3 oranges
Combine all the ingredients and press into an oiled tin.
Bake in a hot oven (180ºC) for 20-25 minutes.
As we were baking them in the wood-fired oven, I covered them with foil and baked for 10 minutes, turned round after another 10 minutes and then baked uncovered for 5 or so minutes.
Leave to cool for 10 minutes and then cut into pieces and leave to cool completely.
When the courgettes are in full season, this is a good cake to make. It seemed a bit stiff when I made it but it came out OK in the end. We baked it in the outside wood oven. The fabulous thing about it is that we can use our courgettes, our eggs and our walnuts. You can’t get much better than that.
3 medium eggs
240 ml corn oil
480 g brown sugar
720 g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
480 g courgettes, coarsely grated
2 tsp vanilla essence
50 g chopped walnuts
Heat the oven to 180ºC.
Beat the eggs and oil together in a bowl.
Add the sugar and whisk until creamy and frothy
Fold in the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
Pour into a greased and lined tin.
Bake for 1 hour until cooked in the middle.
As I was cooking it in the wood oven, I covered it with foil and turned it round 180º after 20 minutes and cooked it for a further 20 minutes. I left the foil off for about 10 minutes and then put it back on towards the end once it had browned.
Courgette cake with cream