Cooking with Fire Again!

We have had almost a week of grey and dull days, sometimes with rain but always with the ground so wet that it is not possible to do much work outside.  I don't mind the rain, it makes the rocks glisten and the grass turns as green as it is in England, what with all the dry stone walls around here I could be in Devon!

 A consequence of the dull grey weather is that we are spending more time inside and using the wood burning stove through the day.  Since the fire is on anyway we have been trying to use the little oven on the top as much as possible.  To date we have baked potatoes, apples and fish in it but today I thought I would try making a cake.

I used my oven thermometer to calibrate the oven when we first lit the fire and the guage is between 25 and 40 degrees C lower than the actual temperature in the oven.  It's good to be able to judge the temperature in there but the real trick is regulating it.  Different woods give off different heat.  Sometimes a small fire can burn very hot and the oven gets quite toasty, other times we need to build the fire up to get even a low temperature in the oven.  So I needed to find a recipe that could take a bit of leeway in the oven temperature.

I found this one in an old cookery book (hence the weights being in ounces!) and thought it would be robust enough.

Treacle Loaf

4oz wholemeal flour
4oz plain flour
2tsp baking powder
2oz castor sugar
3oz sultanas
1tbsp black treacle
1tbsp golden syrup
1oz butter
1/4 pint milk

Sieve together the flours and baking powder and add the sugar and sultanas.  Melt the butter with the golden syrup and black treacle and then mix into the dry ingredients and then add the milk until you have a stiff dropping consistency.  Grease and flour a 1lb loaf tin and spoon the mixture in.  Bake in a 160C oven for about an hour.

The temperature guage on the wood burning stove said it was just under 100C when I first put the loaf into the oven.  I added more wood to the fire and left it to see how it would go.  The loaf appeared to be rising nicely after about half an hour and at 45 minutes I stuck a sharp knife into it to test it, it wasn't cooked in the middle so I left it for the full hour at which point it was slightly over done!

Sadly the back of the loaf and underneath has burned, it would have been better to turn it half way through baking, I shall know next time.  I don't know if lining the loaf tin with parchment paper would help stop it burning on the bottom - perhaps.  I will have to experiment.

Once cool we decided to try the loaf sliced and spread with butter.  Seriously it was DELICIOUS!  I gave the burned edges a miss but the flavour was excellent and the centre of the loaf was nice and moist.  It had a very old fashioned taste to it, rich and dark and very treacly without being too strong.  I fancy that Mrs Beaton would have enjoyed it just as much (perhaps minus the burned edges lol!) as we did!

There is definitely a sense of achievement when cooking on the wood burner, it's almost impossible to know how long things will take to cook but perhaps that's what I like about it, every dish a discovery and every meal an adventure!

More recipes and seasonal food at 


  1. Hi, I have an electric oven which is totally tempramental and seems to think its temperature controls dont apply to it. Things tend to cook one side more than the other and top first, so I cover the cooked bits with foil to protect them whist the inside cooks. Sue


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