Experimenting with a French Brick Oven: Bread, Casserole, and Brownies!

Bread day has come! And none too soon.
wood fire brick oven
You could fit at least 15 Hanzels and Gretyls in this thing, no joke.
With a rather sparse selection of foods at our current wwoofing farm, we eat a lot of bread. I would like to exclude myself from that “we,” but alas, even I have succumbed to the never-disappointing combination of bread, cheese, and jam. Especially when the cheese is raw chevre produced by my own hand
jean-yves brick oven
Meet Jean-Yves, who isn't nearly as tiny as he looks in
this picture. Also, note his jumper. Let's behonest: I
would like all men to wear one of these. Every day.

But I digress. Every Friday, Jean-Yves readies the huge brick oven in their kitchen for the 40 plus breads that will come to fruition within it. Potato bread, buckwheat bread, oat bread, you name it.

The production process is a family affair, with volunteers rising around 7:30am to begin kneading. We knead, knead, and knead some more. There needs to be lots of kneading. After they rise, we pop ‘em in the oven for an hour. It was a surprisingly un-technical process, which might explain why a few of the breads ended up being more like large, inedible stones. Some get sold at markets, and the others are ravenously eaten by volunteers throughout the rest of the week. I’ve now seen a man eat five pieces of bread for breakfast, and I'm still not sure how to deal with it.
homemade bread
1. Yeast 2. Yeast added to dough 3. Rising breads
baking bread
Action shots! We use a huge wooden spatula to quickly slide the breads into the oven and to retrieve them.
baked bread
And voilà!
But I cannot lie. Much more interesting to me were the other things to be baked in the oven. It had been a long, long week since using one—what can I say?

Pizza was a no-brainer. We used goat milk to augment an especially-hoarded box of tomato sauce to serve as the base for two pizzas. Goat cheese and a goat béchamel made a foundation for two others, and (drumroll please) nutella was the bedrock for our fifth and final pizza.

Topping choices consisted of goat cheese, zucchini, green beans, and an onion, so that’s what we used. We tried to make them appear dissimilar, at least. The garden was still putting out a few raspberries (oh glory!), so we scattered these and a very fresh chevre atop the nutella delicacy.
Clockwise: naked pizza crusts, a green bean pizza, a pre-baked spread, and family style chow down

Meanwhile, I worked on a stellar green bean casserole. Fresh haricots verts, a couple rounds of fresh chevre in a goat’s milk béchamel, a little nutmeg, some Dijon that I found hidden in a cupboard, aged chevre topping, and homemade bread crumbs with herbs de Provence.
Clockwise from top-left: Making the roux for the goat cheese bechamel; the beans tossed with chunks of aged cheese, reckoning time in the oven, and the finished product
Drizzle with EVOO, then bake for about 30 minutes. Goaty and gooood.

But I couldn't stop. 

We found yet another use for zucchini in my Zucchini Quinoa Brownies. Damn, Gina!
Bread time is family time.
This photo shows volunteers representing Spain, Australia, England, Ireland, Czech Republic, and of course, U.S.A

So yes, using what we had, we certainly made the best of bread day.

Brick oven, I want to own you.

If you only had an oven for one day a week, what would you be itching to make?

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