Sourdough and Wood Fired Outdoor Oven: My Happy Place
Many of you already know that I am slightly (okay, more than slightly) obsessed with bread. And this has lead to an equal obsession with baking sourdough bread at home (if you are like-minded I encourage you to read this blog religiously). Obviously, the next logical (if there is any logic to obsessions) step in my compulsion for all things bread is, well, wood-fired ovens. Right? (Note: I suppose you could argue that the next logical step would be to experiment with home-milled flours, but I don’t have room for this bad-boy. Yet. Until then, I have been using Farmer Ground Flour whenever possible).
So, about wood-fired ovens. I want one. But I live in an apartment in New York and I doubt my landlord or the City of New York would go for such a thing. The dream – oh, how I love to dream – is to find a property upstate that will house my imagined, beautiful, outdoor, wood-fired oven and my overflowing ceramics collection. And while the dream gestates like a fine wine (i.e. while I try to save $$$), I am trying to learn as much about wood-fired baking as I can.
On the outskirts of Asheville, NC there is a magical place. And it is run by a magnificent person. I believe I first became aware of Tara and her bakery, Smoke Signals, via Instagram and I was immediately smitten. In short, Tara is an artist and a baker and a completely inspiring individual. Most importantly, she is doing exactly what she wants to do exactly where she wants to do it, and that in and of itself is empowering. She lives/works on a gorgeous piece of property outfitted with an Alan Scott oven, and – YES – she teaches workshops.
If you can snag an open spot at one of Tara’s workshops (they fill up quickly) you will be rewarded with a kind, patient, instructor. You will learn about sourdough, alternative flours, places to visit in and around Asheville, art, and of course…how to work on a wood-fired oven.
In April, I took one of her classes. It was both a dream and an inspiration. Instead of giving you an overview of the class in words, I offer you an overview in photos.