When I saw a photo of Mike McGibbon’s bread fresh out of his wood fired hearth oven, I coaxed him into sending more photos. Of course I wanted to share them with everyone. Mike has certainly carved out a little slice of heaven in his home state of Wisconsin. Denyce and I were in his neighborhood several years ago and hope to get up there again soon. It’s gorgeous country.

The bread pictured here happens to be the Cook’s Illustrated Almost No Knead recipe. Wow! If all the bread Mike bakes looks even half that good, I have to think his family and friends are especially fortunate to have Mike around and appreciative of his talents.

Mike McGibbon Hearth Oven

Mike McGibbon Bread Dough

Mike McGibbon

Mike McGibbon Wood Stove

Mike McGibbon

Mike McGibbon Risen Dough

Mike McGibbon

Mikes Bread

Mike highly recommends road slush stout for the almost no knead bread. Pick some up at your local grocer ;).

Paradise Found

Earlier Comments

12 thoughts on “Paradise Found

  1. Hi Sheri,

    Good luck with your farmers market project. That sounds great.

    There are tons of resources on line and off on building a good wood fired oven. I’ve done a lot of research on this as it’s something I’m planning on doing. As you can imaging, there are a lot of different directions you can take.

    Alan Scott designed ovens are widely renowned as some of the best. Last I checked, you can buy a detailed set of plans for around $100. The skill level required to actually build one could safely be described as “extremely high”.

    Another interesting approach is going with an earthen oven. A fellow named Kiko Denzer wrote a book entitled Build Your Own Earth Oven. I have a copy and have friends who have build them. You can build one in a few days or less for very little money and they work great. They can be simple or elaborate.

    I’m likely to go with a Le Panyol oven for a number of reasons. The core of the oven is pre built so much less labor intensive and more likely to work as desired.

    An internet search on any of this will quickly deluge you with info but hopefully this will give you a (tiny) bit of perspective.

  2. Dave the Novice


    I don’t know what the rules are for Washington, but I think your local health department is the place to start. They can tell you what steps you have to take. Where I live, you have to have your facility inspected, and there are specific labeling requirements for the baked goods.

  3. Sheri Sigley

    Hi All! I found your website via a comment someone left at Amazon’s bread proofing baskets to come here and get them cheaper…so I did! Recently ordered 3 of them plus a baking stone. Love the pics of the wood-fired hearth oven…would love to try baking in one of those. Is there a site that describes how to build a good one?

    I am fairly new at artisan bread baking…have baked bread off and on all my life, but today was the first day I ever baked a truly artisan bread from Nancy Silverton’s La Brea Bakery cookbook. I traded a friend the book for some of the starter I made using her white starter recipe using the organic grapes (my friend didn’t have the patience to make that starter). What a deal! I had so much pour-off that I would’ve given it to her for free! I am happy and excited to report that Silverton’s starter worked for me. I even made her Country White bread recipe with starter that I poured off before it was up to strength. Low and behold it looks exactly like her loaves! I was happy as it did take FOREVER to make them. Better yet, it tasted divine…the perfect sourdough tang, lots of large holes and a thin, crispy top. I used a pizza stone that I had, so had to bake them one at a time. Can’t wait for the big baking stone to arrive so I can do both at the same time. My next project is making the crown rolls for Thanksgiving dinner at Mom’s.

    BTW, thanks so much for the tip about using rice flour on the bread, peel and stone. It worked like a charm. The last time I used regular bread flour and partially deflated my loaf going into the oven because it stuck.

    Does anyone know if you can become a certified kitchen using a wood-fired hearth oven? I would like to use my pour-offs to bake loaves for our local food bank, just as I grow produce, and am on the board of our local community gardens that donates produce (1000+ pounds our first year!), for our local food bank. Next year we are going to become part of the local farmer’s market with part of the land hubby and I have donated to the community gardens to help us become more self-sustainable as the federal grant is a pittance compared to what equipment costs are. Was thinking of becoming certified and selling the bread at the farmer’s market also. I live in Washington state, so if anyone knows anything, let me know! Thanks much, Sheri

  4. Hi Susan and Ron,

    Sorry for taking forever to reply. By now you’ve probably come up with an answer.

    It’s a really hard one to answer precisely as just about any answer will do. I’m not sure what you are asking with “…if we have to wait and stir still?”

    Anyway, very generally speaking, if you want your starter to be strong and healthy, it helps to about double the volume of starter you are starting with, with each feeding. Some people triple or quadruple their starter. This often entails discarding some old starter before feeding so you don’t end up with a ton of it.

    On the other hand, you can also often get by with just tossing in a little flour and water to keep the starter limping along for a while longer. Even old and somewhat neglected, underfed starter can perform nicely in baking as soon as it’s added to the bread recipe. Some people even recommend “abusing” your starter in this way to produce a more sour bread.

    So the best answer is probably play around with it and sooner or later you’ll just know from experience what you want to do with your starter under the multitude of variables that you deal with over time.

  5. Susan & Ron

    We were just looking for how to make my own sourdough starter and found this treasure. Thank you for the blow by blow discription and video. We haave been sucessful twice now making starter.
    We have been watching all the video’s daily for more than a week. i can not find how much we are to feed the starter with flour and water to get the amount we need to bake our bread. You say you feed the satarter real well the night before but not how much of anything and if we have to wait and stir still? Confused in Mi

  6. If anyone is looking for a good vessel to bake this no knead bread in, I just saw on ebay six or seven stoneware bowls from pampered chef starting at 9.99, some new in original box. bowl is 12 in diameter and 4 inches high. you would just need to get a cover for it.

  7. Hi Audrey,

    Your stove sounds fantastic. I’d love to post a picture here. You would need to email it to me (eric at breadtopia dot com) and I’ll put it up. Thanks, can’t wait to see it!

  8. Audrey

    I just found your website, and LOVE it. Thanks so much. I thought you might like to see a picture of my woodfired brick oven, made by my cousin, me and my husband did the stone work on it. It is made from clay from our yard, and fire bricks on the floor of the oven. It can bake 25 loaves at a time, and two batches each firing, so 50 loaves can be made. It takes about 3 people to do this 12 hours. But they sure taste good. How do i put a picture on here?

  9. Tim

    We do alot of cooking at chuckwagons cook offs. I found a sour dough biscuit recipe didn’t know if anyone would like it or not.It works & fast really easy. http://www.castbullet.com/cooking/sourb.htm

  10. claude

    Wow: Started looking onlne on bread recipies. Found Breadtopia, and watched the no knead artisian bread, tried it and had success the first try. I did not have instant yeast, but had a no proof quick raise yeast. Did not have distilled water, so boiled some to use. Next time will go ahead and get the correct stuff. Any way thanks for the great recipie. Ummmm good bread. Thanks Again Claude

  11. Hi Mary,

    I love working the dough too. But if you use the proportions of flour and water given in most no knead recipes, it’s basically impossible to knead it since the dough is so wet. If you add a bunch of flour, the recipe changes. It still may be a great recipe though so perhaps worth experimenting with.

  12. Mary

    I have been baking bread for over 50 years now. I have a bread machine but rarely use it. I like to try out some of the new “old” bread recipes too. The no-knead sounds great for someone in a big hurry, but I love kneading my bread. It is part of the rhythm of my kitchen. There is just something very satisfying about thumping away at that wad of dough. Don’t you remember stealing a wad of raw dough from your mother’s bread board? My grandkids do it too. Now, can I just take your no-knead recipes and knead them the old fashioned way without making any major changes?

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