Thursday, March 1, 2018

Fourneau Oven & A New Batard

Fourneau Bread Oven, and my very first batard

How long have I been writing this blog. Yeah, yeah, the hiatus. I know. BUT, how long have I been writing this blog and NO batard? Forever long, that's how long. I do have one crazy thing that I tried to call a batard posted somewhere. The name of the post might be 'bread fail', and it might be on my other blog the Tartine Bread Experiment. But today, dear reader, I give you batard, a real batard.

Rosemary-Fontina Batard

It's not so much the bread formula that matters here, rather, the shape of the thing and how I got there. Although I am including the formula below. It was a 'throw together' bread, but man did it come out smashingly, so, I'll share it with you (smile emoji).

UPDATE: Hey everyone! I have a code for you to use. If you want to purchase the oven, click here to go to Fourneau's site, and apply this code at checkout GMRFOURNEAU15 for 15% off your order. Woohoo!

OK, so, you all know how hard it is to make a batard. Your best shaping, your best intentions, and the thing puddles in the oven like nobody's business because you just can't get the steam situation worked out. And yo! I have tried it ALL, from lava rocks, to squirt bottles, to ice cubes in a hot pan, to hot wet towels. Every one of these 'methods' ended in horrible failure for me, some of them perilously so. Like, lava rocks? Seriously dangerous! You toss ice water on them and they sputter in your face and burn your eyelids, and to drive the point home, they snuff out the pilot light. Many a time have I reached my naked arm into the back of a 500 degree oven to relight it with images of the thing blowing up in my face, and always, always this ends with burned arms and knuckles and days of blisters and cold showers. Squirt bottles are just silly. Dozens of burned towels with the wadded-up-wet-towel situation, and ice cubes in a hot pan is tantamount to a chemical peel, but without the radiant skin results. And damned if I'm ruining my $300 Staub for a loaf of bread. I love you bread, but puhleeze.

I have been praying that someone, please dear cast iron gods, someone brilliant make up an oval combo cooker. In the height of a bread revolution, you would think, right? Someone? Anyone?


So round it is. Round. Round. ROUND loaves of bread! Again, bread, love ya, but damn I'm bored.

So one day I'm lying in bed, right, thinking of bread (of course), and in an unprovoked, angry fit I shouted 'someone has got to come up with an oval combo cooker!' I'm not kidding. It was a moment of out of the blue madness. I went online and typed in that very sentence, and what would happen? The sky opened up, that's what happened. The clouds parted, angels came tumbling out of the cosmos and handed me this beautiful cast iron gem:

Fourneau Bread Oven

OMG. Fourneau... will you marry me? I am on my knees in love.

I ordered my little oven (get yours here), got it Monday, and today, today I pulled out the most beautiful bread I have made in years. It kept the batard shape, as I hoped it would, the crust was sublime, the crumb was as wide open as the sky that this little beauty fell from, and it is as easy to work with as a simple combo cooker. Man alive. I want two. I want two so I can make twin loaves. Dear reader, this thing is the best thing that has happened to my bread life since my Komo mill.

The Fourneau crumb

I must admit, because I am so used to making les boules, my batard shaping skills are wanting. I did the best that I could, (heaven forbid I should simply open one of my 50 bread books to figure it out) but I promise I'll keep working on it so I can post prettier loaves with mirrored ends. Don't judge.

But back to my little oven.

Who is Fourneau? They are a dynamic duo who own Strand Design, a Chicago based company that crafts beautiful things using sustainably sourced and locally manufactured materials. They created Fourneau for us, the serious novices who bake bread, who know bread, and who have been longing for something like this forever. The first loaf I pulled from this contraption came out as perfectly as the batard of my dreams, and I would never have been able to make this without it. No more nights pining away for a $50K professional steam oven just so I can make a batard.

The Fourneau requires zero learning curve. It works just like the combo cooker, so you can seamlessly transition from round 😴 to batard 🤩 without having to take a quantum physics course first. You just pop it in the oven an hour before you plan to bake, load up your dough, close the little door, and the magic happens. If you don't already have one, you are going to need a genuine batard shaped banneton. No getting around it. It took me an hour to come up with something that would hold my dough properly, and I ended up sacrificing an old oblong tupperware container. Not sexy at all. And I almost took some fingers off slicing the ends of the thing open with an Xacto knife.

I have included links Fourneau's beautifully and simply designed website. I honestly cannot praise this device high enough. I got their 2.0 version, which comes with a plateau baking tray, silicone baking mat, and cast iron handle to keep your bottoms from going dark. But you really need to also get the wooden peel. Because it's bomb/super sexy. If you can, you should grab one before summer (honestly, you will want two, so if it's in your budget...), and please, please write me and tell me you've gotten it, and how your bread comes out. I have a feeling round 😖 combo cookers far and wide are going to be taking forced sabbaticals.

Here's the formula for my very first real batard. Hooray! My little Fourneau!


For the levain, you will need

75g freshly milled whole wheat flour*
75g h2o
12g 100% hydration, 100% rye starter

Mix together your levain ingredients and ferment in a large enough bowl to hold tomorrow's dough. Mine fermented for 8 hours.

For the dough, you will need

All of the levain
367g h2o
426g Giusto's Artisan flour*
74g freshly milled whole wheat flour**
10g kosher salt, I used Diamond
120g fontina cheese (use the real stuff), cubed
5g whole, fresh rosemary leaves

*You can use Bob's Red Mill Artisan, King Arthur All Purpose, or whatever bread flour you usually use. But Giusto's is the best. Just sayin'.

**I use Great River Milling Co.'s hard red spring wheat berries, but you can totally use whatever whole wheat flour you have on hand. It just won't be as good. Kidding.

When your levain is properly fermented, add the h2o and flours to the bowl holding it, and mix everything together until you reach a shaggy mass. 

Autolyse for 1 hour 30 minutes. After the autolyse, squish the salt and rosemary into the dough until it's fully incorporated work the dough into a smooth mass. Now it's time for the 3 hour 30 minute bulk fermentation. Here you will perform a series of turns every half-hour for the first hour and a half taking care not to deflate the dough. The last of these turns, you will fold in the cheese (photographed below). Leave it be for the final 2 hours.

Turn the dough out onto a workspace dusted with some freshly milled brown rice flour. Shape into a loose batard. Let it rest on the bench for 10 minutes, then shape into a tight batard

Pop into a batard shaped banneton or some reasonable facsimile thereof, seam side up.  Chuck it in the fridge and ferment. Mine went for 21 hours 30 minutes.


Preheat the oven to 500 with a Fourneau oven and baking stone inside.

Invert the banneton over a peel -- either the plateau baking tray with silicone baking mat, or the wood peel that you've purchased, which fits perfectly into the mouth of the Fourneau oven -- seam side down.

Slash the dough down its center. Slide it into Fourneau oven. Close the little iron door, and steam for 15 minutes at this temp. Then turn the oven down to 475 and steam for another 15 minutes.

After the steam, remove the little door from the Fourneau oven and bake out till a thermometer inserted into the center of the batard reads 210 degrees. You will have to toggle the heat between 425 and 450 degrees, depending on how much of your cheese oozed out. The cheese will burn quickly, so, you will have to err on the side of lower temp if you have major ooze.

Cool on a wire rack for at least two hours before slicing.

To the staff of life!

 Squish the salt and rosemary into the dough.

Sprinkle a third of the cheese over the dough, fold a flap of dough over that, prinkle with another third, fold another flap of dough over that, repeat with the last third, and encase the last of the cheese in a flap of dough so that it's all concealed within the dough.

(Feel free to contact me and chastise me about my unresearched batard shaping skills)

 When the dough has finished its bulk, scrape the dough onto a clean counter.

  Fold one third of it over the center third.

 Fold the final third over the center of the dough.

 Then fold the bottom half of the dough up past the center of the dough.

 And fold the small flap of dough down over that to make a neat package. Rest for 10 minutes.

After the bench, I rolled the dough into an even tighter batard by bringing the long sides over one another. 

Pop into a well-floured banneton.

Shape and slash the dough.



  1. Dang, girl!!!! You got skills. No but really, this was fascinating to read. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

    1. OMG, Alexandra. You totally cracked me up! lol. YOU ARE NEVER GOING TO BELIEVE THIS! But I was going to do my next post of your three-seed crackers! I have your page open as we speak! A post, of course, with all the proper arrows pointing your way.

      Cheers sis!


  2. Is there flour missing?

    367g h2o
    73g hand-bolted whole wheat flour*

    Looks great!

    1. Lord! Jenpet! lol. actually, I noticed that in the wee hours in the morning and changed it. That happens with my posts. I have to post, then let it sit, then I have to revisit it first thing in the morning to correct typos. THANK YOU for the discovery! xo

    2. Thank you for sharing it! I will try today!

  3. "Yeah, yeah, the hiatus, I know." The hiatus has resulted in a load of inspiration from you! Your enthusiasm is infectious ... that batard looks like food of the gods, as does the Allium loaf in the previous post. The Fourneau is a terrific discovery, as the batard is just a more sensible shape for slicing consistently-sized pieces of bread. OK, add one Fourneau to my wish list!

    One question ... what about pulling the steamed loaf out of the Fourneau and finishing it in the direct heat of the oven? Would it result in a different crust or colour? The crust in your pictures looks pretty spectacular as it is, and hard to improve on. But would the batard benefit from being outside the Fourneau's dark little cave?

    1. Junkopartner, at this rate, I'm gonna have you go broke! lol. We have how many things on that list now?? And upgrades WITHIN the list, if you'll recall!

    2. Also, Junkopartner... hm. Not sure about finishing it in the direct heat of the oven. I mean, sure, why not, but the crust was pretty perfect, so, there was no pressing feeling that I should take it from its little cave to finish the bake. The only advantage to that, I think, would be to pull it out so you can load up another and bake two loaves, if you only want to buy one of the ovens. It also never dawned on me to pull the boule out of the combo cooker. I never have an issue with black bottoms because of how I direct readers to nestle the pan in the mouth of the pot. Placing a loaf directly on the stone WILL blacken the bottom. So keep that in mind. And parchment does nothing to prevent this. x

    3. (I have tossed boules back into the oven for a little more color after pulling them out and feeling they should go a little longer, and the result was always a black bottom when I baked them even briefly directly on the stone...)

  4. Sure, 2 lodge dutch ovens, a Le creuset cast iron pot (what my first loaves cooked in), a clay cloche... what harm could one more cast iron bread cooking device cause?

    It’s not like my wife might divorce me for having too many heavy pots hanging around is it?

    1. au contraire! she is probably thrilled to have someone who bakes so avidly! 😍

    2. So, when you load the Fourneau do you use the peel? Keen the bits seperate, and then seal it in?

      Had a bit of an incident where not enough rice flour on the peel caused the loaf to not go smoothly into the oven (partly because it was too big)

      Also the recipe for cider bread sounds interesting.

    3. Hey argh128, i used the wood peel from Fourneau and a sheet of parchment for easy sliding off the peel. I did get a dark bottom. I ALWAYS use parchment when sliding. Never just rice flour. Doesn't slide enough for me :)

      I have the silicone baking sheets/metal plateau baking tray which prevents black bottoms, and will be doing a post this week using it to show everyone the bottom.

      I made sure to use a banneton that was narrow enough so that the fermented dough would not be too wide to fit into the oven.

      Did you get an oven??

    4. I did, it’s a little smaller then I expected.

      The parchment paper cut to the right side would work really well.

      No burnt bottom on mine, just a burnt end where the door mashed the dough because it didn’t get in the oven far enough.

    5. Hey argh128. Yeah. I knew that making the dough/parchment would be key. Really tighten that batard and get a banneton that's smaller in width/length than the oven. Once you have something that fits and works, you're golden. Mine was a hair long too. Not too bad. But I did have room on the sides, so, next time I will make the batard a little shorter and a little fatter. That should do it! Check back for the post this week. I'm going to research some shaping so that we can use the same method for our new ovens and never have to deal with smashed noses again!

    6. (when I find a banneton whose size works with our ovens, I will post it as soon as possible. I'm on it this week. xo)

    7. I have two rectangular proofing baskets. The one I used was the long and narrow one. It’s almost exactly as long as the peel. Parchment paper would have been perfect.
      I don’t do anything special on the shaping.

      Form a normal boul, let it bench rest & relax. Then flip it over, pull the bottom towards me, and fold in the sides, then roll like a cigar.

  5. Hi France, I love this post with the Rosemary and F. cheese, it looks very delicious indeed and sounds wonderful, I am going give this a try,can't wait to let you know how it taste.

  6. One word of advice on this loaf, don’t add more cheese then indicated; also note in the images their is advice on how to fold the cheese into the dough.

    It is pretty tasty, especially if your patient and let it cool down so the rosemary comes through.


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