Why Our Wood-fired Ovens are Like Artisan Bread

September 20, 2021

Artisan bread has become über-popular in recent years. So, having an artisan product as we do in the shape of our wood-fired ovens (great for cooking artisan breads, incidentally), we decided to compare artisan bread with our artisan ovens and see if we share anything in common. Read on to find the ways in which artisanship’s qualities are shared by both.

1. Hand-crafted with love

Both artisan bread and our artisan Valoriani ovens are hand-crafted with love, using skills passed down through the generations. In Valoriani’s case, that dates from 1890 and the 4th generation of the family is still using some of the same techniques today, as its original founder, who was a ceramics specialist.

Clay is still worked and shaped with exquisite attention to detail; pieces are fitted by craftsmen who take ownership of their production. Even mosaic tiles are hand-applied and special features hand-painted by artists.

2. Quality ingredients

Artisan bread is full of high-quality ingredients, unlike mass-produced bread, which is made to a Chorleywood process, which uses chemical and high-energy mixers to speed up fermentation.

In the case of Valoriani’s artisan wood-fired ovens, high quality ‘ingredients’ are also used. This is ‘cotto’ clay – high-quality refractory clay that is perfect for firing-up brick and which is used within our oven builds. It’s also brilliant at retaining as

much heat as possible within the oven construction, especially when combined with first-class insulation materials.

The ‘mass produced’ wood-fired ovens – and even ones manufactured in much lower volumes – lack this quality of material and struggle to fire up their domes. To ‘speed up’ they have to use their equivalent of bread’s chemical and mixers, building micro-mesh metal into their dome construction, indeed if they have a dome at all or just trying to make sub-standard materials heat up. Any scientist will tell you that metal contracts and expands during the heating process, putting strains on the materials around it. Quick disintegration tends to be the result. That just never happens on our Valoriani artisans’ watch!

3. Long production life

The longer the production process for artisan bread, the longer the shelf-life. This is also true of Valoriani’s artisan domestic and commercial ovens. By taking time and care over their construction, the Valoriani family and their team of artisans in Reggello, Italy, create ovens that last 15 or 20 years, or longer, with these periods being common lifespans for ovens, even when used day in, day out in commercial environments. And, of course, if you are a really keen home cook, there’s nothing to stop you having a commercial-grade oven at home. Your oven will help you put on an artisan masterclass every time.

On the other hand, some of our domestic ovens find a great home in restaurants. When you have an artisan product, the possibilities are numerous.

4. Superior flavour and texture

Artisan bread is renowned for its superior, robust flavour and texture and so is food cooked within a Valoriani oven. The superior materials used in the construction, the unique shape of the dome and its air-flow and the market-leading levels of insulation used, all create the perfect culinary environment, enabling a proficient chef to create dishes that wow. Just check out the TripAdvisor success of our Valoriani-owning restaurateurs!

Valoriani wood-fired ovens are also able to cook any texture of food you want, whether that’s crisp pizza, succulent pulled pork or gooey dessert. They are not just one-trick ponies for pizza and, because their heat is so controllable, can cook a huge variety of dishes, at different temperatures. Learning how to do this is part of the joy of being a Valoriani owner.

5. Wooing through aroma

The smell of baking bread is the top scent to incorporate into your property viewings, if you wish to sell a house, with 35% of Brits saying it would influence them positively. Having a wood-fired pizza oven installed can also help you sell your property faster, with an installation, be that in a bespoke garden build, an outdoor kitchen, or internally in the indoor kitchen, adding an attractive facet to a home. It’s all about a property-value-enhancing feature at a domestic level, or giving an eatery the food theatre that customers find irresistible, if you are a commercial wood-fired oven user.

6. Happiness

Artisan bread makes people happy. 89% put that down to the smell and 69% say it evokes joyous memories. These memories relate to mothers in around a third of cases, childhood in 20% of cases and home-life in 16% of those surveyed.

Our wood-fired ovens also bring happiness to homes, becoming the centre of the family occasions with which artisan bread eaters’ happy memories seem to be associated. They can act as a glue that brings families together for meals and gatherings, for parties and socials, for evening chats on the patio, whilst a dish cooks in the oven, and for Sunday roasts with a unique twist. They are truly ‘happiness-bringers’ to families across the UK, in just the same way as artisan bread.

Cooking artisan bread in an artisan oven

So, there are clearly a number of shared facets to both artisan breads and our artisan-built, handcrafted Valoriani ovens. However, it does not need to be an either/or scenario, as our ovens are actually also ideal for cooking artisan breads, whether you wish to do that as a home cook, a restaurant chef or a full-time artisan baker.

There is nothing more joyous than waking up and using the leftover heat from a day’s cooking the following morning, popping dough into the oven, closing the oven mouth and letting your Valoriani ‘gem’ cook you some fresh, handcrafted bread for breakfast or for use that day. Few ovens can do this, as they simply cannot hug heat and retain it even for a few

hours, let alone overnight. But that’s the beauty of an artisan product …

If you would like to know more about our artisan ovens, just call us on 01772 250000.