Brimfield Bread Oven is a European style bakery in Brimfield Township, Ohio. Everything is made from scratch with simple ingredients, hand-shaped and baked in an off-grid, wood-fired oven.
The bakery began from a cottage foods bakery that we (Jud and Genevieve Smith) began in 2014 using a mobile wood fired oven at our home. After learning that Ohio does not allow cottage food bakeries to use wood fired ovens that are outdoors, we decided to get a permanent space to build a bigger oven and share our passion with our community. With determination, luck, the support of everyone who backed our Kickstarter and of course our family and friends, Brimfield Bread Oven officially opened its doors January 6, 2016.
What does it mean to bake in a wood fired oven?
It means you have to be part bread baker and part lumberjack! Our wood is a combination of slab wood scraps we buy locally and wood we have gathered from fallen trees in our local area. We split and cure most of our wood at home whenever possible. As they say, "It's the sort of heat that warms you twice!"
Each night before baking, we build a fire in the oven and maintain it for several hours or more to thoroughly saturate the oven's masonry. It is during this time that we can do pizza (yay for multitasking). Once we reach our desired core temperature in the oven, we burn the coals down to ashes and seal up the oven for the night to allow the heat to equalize throughout the oven mass. In the morning, we rake out any ash and sweep/mop the oven thoroughly so it's clean and ready for the bread baking to begin.
Baking in a wood fired oven also means we "bake on the curve". Since there's no fire in the oven during baking, we use the stored heat in the oven's masonry to bake our breads. Think of it like a battery we charge up with fire. The order of baking is mostly determined by what temperature a certain bread bakes best at: breads that can tolerate the highest temperature - like focaccia, flatbreads, pretzels and baguettes - go first. Larger breads, like rye breads and sourdough miches, require a "softer" oven heat and come later in the baking cycle. Managing the oven temperature and the dough readiness for baking is a daily practice and art.
The stories of our flour:
We use a variety of grains and flours for our products. Much of our organic flour comes from La Meunerie Milanaise, an organic flour milling company in Quebec, Canada. We're also extremely fortunate to have dedicated and skilled organic grain growers right here in Ohio. All of our spelt is passionately grown by Dean McIlvaine at Twin Parks Farm in West Salem and all of our rye flour is grown by Stutzman in Millersburg. We also feel extremely lucky to have a strong working relationship with Ami Gignac and Tim Fox at Breakneck Acres Farm - just 4 miles away in Ravenna. They provide us with a portion of our organic wheat and allow us to mill all our Ohio-grown grains in their beautiful, Austrian made stone flour mill. Their pigs are also some of the happy recipients of our unsold bread!