In the process of developing The Fourneau Bread Oven, we did more extensive user testing than we have ever done before. We made at least ten batches of our own bread before letting anyone else even see it. We asked friends and family members, bakers and non-bakers alike, to try it out and let us know their thoughts. We redesigned the peel, and then redesigned it again. All in all, we spent about three solid months baking bread in home ovens all over Chicago. We can happily say that the results were always very tasty!
Our ultimate test was taking the Fourneau to Floriole Bakery in Chicago and working with baker Alex Roman. As Alex loaded loaves into the commercial steam oven at Floriole, we loaded one of his gorgeous sourdough loaves into the Fourneau. We were nervous. Even though we had tested it many times, the idea of it not performing, or even worse, ruining one of these amazing sourdough breads was kind of stressful.
The scenario was sort of like a head to head baking comparison to test what the Fourneau could do. Alex loaded the peel (with seven loaves), we loaded the peel (with one). Alex put the bread in the steam oven, we put the bread in The Fourneau. Time passed ...The bread did its beautiful thing ... and then! There it was! The moment of truth. Alex unloaded the bread from the steam oven, and we unloaded the bread from the Fourneau ... guess what?
It was perfect!
We were delighted to see that the Fourneau had done its job beautifully. At that point, we were absolutely certain we were ready to launch the Fourneau!
Thanks again to Alex Roman from Floriole Bakery for teaching us some awesome bread techniques — the right way to score bread, the importance of rotation, and why bran is the best thing to "lubricate" your peel. You rock!
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This is the recipe that got us into baking bread at home. My Dad bakes baguettes exclusively and now bakes two at a time on the Fourneau tray. A few of these are demi baguettes are always at the ready in the freezer; they reheat beautifully into extra crusty loaves that accompany any meal.
It has been known to happen that even the biggest bread enthusiasts cannot consume or give away all of the loaves that they make!