Posted on 4 Comments

On Ten Foot Poles

farmersdotter’s bakery oven was built by Alan Scott. As the story goes, around the turn of the century there was a proposal that a communal wood fired oven be erected at the Grist Mill.

Grist Mill
Grist Mill

The idea struck a chord with some locals and a plan was rolled out to secure native Australian Alan Scott, the leading authority of his time on wood fired oven design and construction, and have him travel to the Grist Mill site and lead a workshop on how to build a wood fired oven. The Grist Mill in turn would presumably benefit from the oven and all that it entails.

For reasons unknown the Grist Mill site fell through, most likely due to conflicts with Mill’s heritage status but that is only this writer’s humble opinion. The search was on for an alternate venue. It was then fellow Australian and previous owner agreed to host the workshop on what was to become our farm. The oven was built. It then lay dormant and cold up until last year.  This year farmersdotter is regularly baking traditional naturally leavened bread in this fabulous oven.

With a baking hearth of  72″ X 96″ the oven is one of the largest Alan Scott designs capable of baking over sixty loaves a time. We routinely bake up to three batches per firing. We haven’t tried for four batches but feel confident we could.  Alan Scott oven plans, books, and information on workshops are available from  Oven Crafters.

Oven Interior
Alan Scott 72″ X 96″ baking hearth courtesy            UK Wood-Fired Oven Forum

One question we are often asked is where we build the fire to heat the oven. The answer is on the floor of the baking hearth. For pizza and bagels one could bake with a live fire on the hearth but for our sour dough recipes we remove the fire from the oven.  When the oven reaches 600 to 700 Fahrenheit and only embers remain we close the oven with a home made plug…

Home Made Plug
Home Made Plug

…to allow the temperature to moderate throughout the baking chamber.

After a few hours we unplug the oven and scrape forward ash and coals employing our Ten Foot Pole Scraper…

Ten Foot Poles
Ten Foot Poles: Peel and Scraper

…and let them drop into the ash pit located at the front of the hearth. The oven hearth is then cleaned or ‘scuffled’ with a water soaked towel attached to the end of yet another Ten Foot Pole.

I have always wanted to justify using the term ‘Ten Foot Pole’ and now I have. I can rest happy. Cheers!

4 thoughts on “On Ten Foot Poles

  1. Thanks for that, very informative. Had no idea how that could work. How lucky for you to find this oven on your property and find a use for it. Very happy for you. Evelyn

    1. Hi Evelyn. Yes we are fortunate. It took some time to figure out how best to fire and maintain the oven not to mention figuring out good recipes. Please stop by the farm if you ever have the chance. Cheers!

  2. […] leavened, that is without using commercial yeasts. These lovely breads are baked in a giant wood-fired oven.This year’s Black Box of ingredients […]

  3. […] a peel and aplomb. The peel (resembling a long, exaggerated paddle) is large enough to accommodate four […]

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