Hearth Bread in a metal oven vs a brick oven is as easy as pizza. Even recipes written specifically for kitchen ovens can be adapted to either oven style. The only thing that changes is wood flavor and faster cook times. Recipes can be doubled, or tripled so you can take advantage of the size of your hearth.
Since steel ovens are a new technology, as opposed to 3000 years of brick oven cooking, here are the basics to help you decide between a stainless steel oven or a traditional brick oven.
Traditional brick ovens like Forno Bravo rely on retained heat and thermal mass to cook. Your oven heat up times take significantly longer than a stainless steel oven (30 to 60 minutes depending on the dome thickness). However, they retain heat for longer periods of time (6 hours or longer). This is because the oven dome saturates with heat and the insulation traps that heat until food absorbs it. Cool down times can exceed 12 hours. This means when you take hearth bread out of a brick oven, the temperature will not drop significantly. Advantages are high volume with excellent fuel efficiency. The two big disadvantages are heat up time and lack of portability.
Bella ovens rely on reflective heat instead of retained heat and thermal mass. With the exception of the floor surface, the heat comes from the fire and is reflected back down to the cooking floor. The result is these ovens heat up very fast, as quick as 15 minutes. This means that after each batch of hearth bread, you are taking heat out of the oven and it needs to be restored. Typically, you should be able to do 2 to 3 batches of hearth bread before the oven cools down. Plenty to support most families / enthusiasts. Advantage – fast heat up time, light and easily maintained. Disadvantage – not well suited to high volume, professional bakeries or catering large groups of people.
We hope this helps you make your decision and we would love to assist you in choosing the best oven for your family.
If you want a great eBook, Wood Fired Bread, we provide one at Forno Bravo and you get to choose the price (even zero)!