Cooking on a Rayburn woodstove: Help Us!

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Give me your tips. This wood fired family needs some love.

So we’re about to embark on our first full Winter of cooking on a woodstove. In particular, a Rayburn Royal. It has hot spots, cold spots and an oven that cooks everything really well on the left side.

I know there’s HEAPS to learn about this baby, from the best wood to use to what recipes work better in a woodstove oven to what best to use the warming oven at the bottom for…

The layout of a Rayburn Royal. This one is much cleaner than ours. But the bits are the same.

The layout of a Rayburn Royal. This one is much cleaner than ours. But the bits are the same.

Here comes dinner

Here comes dinner

Banan cupcakes are part of our small but expanding wood fired menu

Banana cupcakes are part of our small but expanding wood fired menu

Case in point: this bit is on the front of the flue box of Allsun Farm's rayburn. Ours doesn't have this front lever bit. Should we add this bit to ensure all-night coals?

Case in point: this bit is on the front of the flue box of Allsun Farm’s rayburn. Ours doesn’t have this front lever bit. Should we add this bit to ensure all-night coals? Does anyone know?

I would welcome any and all comments from woodfired cooks old and new…

Can I firstly say that I truly and deeply love wood fired cooking. I love that this stove warms our house and our bath water on a cold and rainy day, as well as providing an oven and cooktop for making good food.

I love that this is slow cooking at it’s most fundamental. You wanna bake? Then light the kindling 2 hours prior and forget about all the other things you’re trying to do today till you get a good fire roaring…

I love the gentle radiant heat. It’s almost mammalian. It’s like having a crouching, friendly, big black bear that sleeps in the corner of the tiny house, and radiates a slow happiness that gets into everyone’s bones, even as we sleep.

I love that even if all else fails, if the solar system turns up its toes, a huge storm comes and the world outside is dark and lost, that I can still cook my family and crew a big, hot, nourishing dinner. And pudding.

Ok so that’s all great, but currently my puddings are all coming out burnt on one side. This is analog cooking at its most non-standard. I love it. But I also love dessert that i can eat the whole of.

So! Tell me oh global network of wood fired cookerers and/or children of wood fired cookerers. Not only limited to Rayburn cooking, but wood stove cooking in general…

What should I make? What are your best tips for fuel size? Uses for ash? Muffins vs cakes? Can I hope to cook a great sponge in this (not that i ever have previously cooked a great sponge in any other oven, but who knows what lies ahead)? Cheese toastie approaches for a Rayburn?

When you ‘close it down’ for the night, how do you get the coals to make it through till morning? Is there a secret trick?

Thanks in advance…

>> More posts about natural building

First Rayburn 'no knead' bread. Lookin good and only slightly burnt...

First Rayburn ‘no knead’ bread. Lookin good and only slightly crispy…

66 Comments

  1. fraseroldmillroad
    Posted March 9, 2013 at 7:48 am | Permalink | Reply

    I don’t know how relevant our stove is to yours but if I’m going to use the oven I will plan to cook slow and long. I remove all the ash in the fire box because that is above our oven and the ash insulates the heat source slowing the cooking down even further. I’ve found that you want a hot oven you got to get that baby cranking out the heat and cooking in your undies comes with hazards at my age not to mention the aesthetic. For all night burning I use a really hard wood, iron bark around here and ensure the coal bed is deep. Ensure your log has stopped smoking before you shut it down for the night. What I mean is don’t throw the log on and turn it off straight away. Gloria who lived in our shack before us she could cook anything on that stove BUT she hardly ever left the kitchen. And the kitchen was a sweat box. We bought a gas stove.

  2. andrea
    Posted March 9, 2013 at 8:00 am | Permalink | Reply

    Grew up on one in the hinterlands of Canada and it was survival..you learn to think and prep far ahead with a wood stove but it truly is your friend. Never knew any other way but to turn your items in the oven regularly and learn your hot and cool spots. Not a stove you want to cook delicate items on unless you are willing to keep it constant company, but there is nothing like starting your yeast sponge in the warming oven, letting the bread rise there and then taking those beautiful loaves out on a winters day. It is great if you are bottling as you can slide the canner to a cooler spot and then return it if the pressure starts to drop to a hotter spot. Get to know her body and her responses well and she will reward you with great nourishment for the body and the soul.

  3. Posted March 9, 2013 at 8:02 am | Permalink | Reply

    We installed ours about the same time as you so we are new to all of this too. I am struggling with the oven. Our temperature gauge is rubbish so we have a free standing one inside. It is about 40 degrees different to the in built in one. All I can offer is some fuel information. We have access to heap of pallet wood on a very regular basis from the local hardware shop. It is generally pine. I start the fire in the morning with finely chopped pine and increase the wood size in the fire bit by bit. If I do it like this (opposed to a bit of kindling and then some larger wood and walking away) I am cooking in a pan in about 10mins, boiling water in 15-20mins and baking in 1 hour. initially it took about 30mins to boil water which is too long to wait for morning coffee.

    • Posted March 9, 2013 at 9:14 am | Permalink | Reply

      Thanks Daniel!

      • Posted March 10, 2013 at 10:14 am | Permalink

        Hey guys I would avoid oine for all but the very start kindling. It has a lot of tar which will gum up your chimney in no time. In WA we use jarrah, but some hardwood from your area is good. We had an Everhot for years ( Aussie made, but Rayburn is the best they say). Make sure you clean the ash out of everywhere regularly as it does insulate. Get a single large log burning before you go to bed and then slowly close down the air flow with the controls. Put the covers down too. It should be still there smouldering in the morning, open the controls and fire it up for a boiling kettle. We cooked roasts by putting in the hot ove for 20 mins then moving to the warming oven for the rest of the afternoon. Flippin wonderful. Wood fires are a winter thing . I am using hay boxes to cook in in still hot Western Australia. We get a casserole to the boil briefly then place in the hay box and put a hay cushion or a blanket on top. It will slow cook for 12 hours if you want. We just cooked curry and rice for hundreds of people with 3 hay boxes and a bushman gas Barbie at the Nannup Music festival. Awesome. Rice in one, vego in one and meat curry in the 3rd. A 20 litre pot of curry would keep well over 60 celcius ( below 60 is in the danger zone) for 20 hours ready to serve next day.Very low carbon foot print.With your slow combustion make sure your wood is dry as in not green and run it pretty quick most of the time . It uses more wood but makes less air pollution. Best wishes, Bee

  4. alexanderkeenan
    Posted March 9, 2013 at 8:03 am | Permalink | Reply

    Tip one – use heavy cast iron to cook on. This will help with cold and hot spots.

    Tip two – consider putting a pizza stone or oven bricks in the oven to even out the heat. You might even put a half fire brick on the hot side to buffer the hot spot.

  5. BrendonC
    Posted March 9, 2013 at 8:54 am | Permalink | Reply

    Slivers of dried bamboo were always the winner for getting a quick boil (especially that first pot of coffee in the morning!). They off-gas and give you a nice blue flame to turn the bubble to a boil. Most sappy pine will do a similar job, just as long as it isn’t treated :)

  6. Shayne Larratt
    Posted March 9, 2013 at 9:03 am | Permalink | Reply

    I wouldn’t be planning on sponges and soufflé although my Mum knew her oven so well she turned out beautiful sponges. You’ll learn your hot and cold spots and to turn your food accordingly…its all trial and error. Bank you fire box with hardwood before going to bed and you should wake to good hot coals and an easy start to the morning.Buy a camping waffle iron for your cheese toasties and do them on the top. My best memory is waking up to the smell of porridge that my Dad had started at about 5am and a toasty warm kitchen to snuggle in.

  7. Posted March 9, 2013 at 9:06 am | Permalink | Reply

    I have the same stove bought new by us 27 years ago , and I could copy the instruction booklet if you like –good tips on cooking and temps etc –I only use redgum but most gum would work well –as we have a Coonara as well I let ours go out over night but with a bit of riddling (thats the lever you’re missing ) it will burn overnight when shutdown correctly .A firm in Seymour Vic has all the spare parts and sells restored ovens for a fairly reasonable price http://www.scandiastoves.com.au/

  8. Posted March 9, 2013 at 9:08 am | Permalink | Reply

    It’s all about the wood. There is a massive difference in the heat you get from some types of wood. The moisture level of the wood is also key. Your best chance of waking up to coals in the morning is to put your biggest and chunkiest hardwood on a hot bed of coals just before you go to bed. Also damper it down to slow down the burn.

    • Posted March 9, 2013 at 9:17 am | Permalink | Reply

      Gotta find some good wood! We’re in old goldmining country so all the good stuff was cut down years ago… will have to figure a good source…

  9. Posted March 9, 2013 at 9:12 am | Permalink | Reply

    We have the same oven bought new 27 years ago .I have the original instruction booklet if you’d like me to scan or copy it for you .I use red gum but any hard Aussie wood is good, but our local Grey Box burns hot but has too much ash .You are missing the riddler which you operate to stir the coals and drop the ash which I do at night before shutting down .As we have a Coonara as well I don’t often use it overnight.Ours has the optional water jacket connected to our hot water service so in winter we heat our own water without outside gas or electricity,. This site sells spare parts–http://www.scandiastoves.com.au/

  10. Rebecca Haughn
    Posted March 9, 2013 at 9:12 am | Permalink | Reply

    Use trivets and really watch your stove and how it acts with different fires, you will become good at it pretty quick. It is a learning curve.

  11. Ann
    Posted March 9, 2013 at 9:21 am | Permalink | Reply

    We had a wood stove for years when my kids were little, I really miss it. I don’t know much about that kind, but I cooked our stove for years.
    Yes, the oven will burn hot on one side, I just got into the habit of turning things regularly. I found cakes the most difficult, but with practice I still made some nice ones!
    As for the stove top, it is easy to just move things to a boil spot than to a simmer spot.
    We found for us Oak was great, we also had some ‘wet’ wood for the nights, if you get your coals hot enough, put in the wet wood than make sure some ash is on top it will last all night.
    Madrone was great for a very hot fire, but seldom lasted the night.

  12. Alex Mateer
    Posted March 9, 2013 at 9:33 am | Permalink | Reply

    I agree with Greg, and you need to chock it up as tightly as you can for it to last overnight, no gaps! You get a feel for it after a while. I have “magic firestarters” (a recycled large envelope, stuffed with small dry twigs) close at hand to stuff in on those cold winter mornings when the fire is nearly out…… A trick for emptying your ash box so you don’t get ash all over the kitchen, Do it slowly and carefully while the fire is drawing so the ash is drawn back up into the fire box. We empty our ash into a metal bucket and then into the compost heap. We’ve also made a little metal box to collect ash that might flick out when you open the firebox, otherwise you’re constantly dusting and sweeping the floor! Best recipe – cook ribs overnight in your warming oven – unbelievably yummy and crispy!! PS Try not to use softwood like pine as it tars up inside the flue and clogs everything up. Yellow box is the hottest, but iron bark lasts the distance.

  13. Shaneo
    Posted March 9, 2013 at 9:48 am | Permalink | Reply

    nice thred I dont have an oven like this but I like to cook with timber.. Fire bricks can be sandstone pavers ive also used bluestone paver mine were from bunnings pretty big rectangle slab for $12 or so. Im sure the thermal mass is pretty good in an oven like this but the stone will help greatly well it dose in the comercial combi ovens i use as a chef. best pizza bases ever, those stone pizza bases are pretty expensive really for what they are, Love your posts guys some vids would be sweet too ;)

  14. Posted March 9, 2013 at 10:02 am | Permalink | Reply

    You can cook some eggs in the ash.

  15. heidi
    Posted March 9, 2013 at 10:10 am | Permalink | Reply

    I cooked on one years ago and loved it , rice pudding was amazing . Ours was old and didnt have the lever but you need one definitely for the night coals so we ended up making a sliding baffle ( flat metal plate) … lucky you !

  16. Phil
    Posted March 9, 2013 at 10:15 am | Permalink | Reply

    I had a Rayburn for 10 years. It was a good stove but I think you’ll struggle to get it to stay in over night because if I remember correctly the fire box is fairly small and has a wide spaced riddler to let the ash fall through and keep the burn process going.

    We ended up buying a space wood heater to heat the house. After all the stove is made to burn wood quickly and get rid of the ash. Space heaters burn slowly and develop a good base of ash that insulates the burn and keeps the heat in.

    Check your seals that go between all the cast iron sections of the stove are good and sealing. Don’t want air seeping in if your trying to run it on low.
    Keep the inside of the stove free of ash deposits as the ash will unevenly insulate the oven and slow the exhausting of smoke to the chimney. As others have said you have to plan ahead for baking and get the whole of the stove to the temperature you need to bake at. Bit like camp fire cooking. Burn the wood, cook on the coals

    I think the damper on the chimney (Allsun Farm pic) would definitely help to run the stove longer into the night. Just watch the build up of tar in the chimney from slow burning. A chimney fire is an experience. Sounds like a turbo charged rocket stove and an an express train going through the house.

    Use the driest hard wood you can get. We use old railway sleepers iron bark or yellow box in our space heater but the blocks average 300mm long. You can’t get that into the stove. Maybe you need to plant appropriate hard wood euc species for future use in the stove. They would be good for your bees and birds as well.

    Wood stoves are great but you just have to get to known it and your wood to get the best out of it.

  17. Bryan Ludwick
    Posted March 9, 2013 at 10:23 am | Permalink | Reply

    Over the years I have found that the most important point about your wood is to have a wide range of sizes available – from the “get it going now” small to the “chunky, slow all night burn” aimed at providing coals in the morning. Failing that, designate someone to be the early riser/chief fire-lighter while you stay snug in bed for the half an hour that the kettle takes to boil. The world is always brighter after a morning cup.

    With regards to wood – at times people tend to be wood snobs – I agree that some of our traditional hardwoods burn the best, but with due care even the humblest scribbly gum will provide the right cooking temperature.

  18. Posted March 9, 2013 at 10:28 am | Permalink | Reply

    My best tools is a set of bellows . Mine are handmade, a gift, and very beautiful. They’re only a year old, and I don’t know how I ever managed without them. I can get the fire going with wet wood, with no good kindling, with only a few coals to start it up again. Black wattle (Acacia mearnsii) is also a surprisingly good firewood, and an easy fuel to grow. I love our Rayburn. 70 years old, recently rebricked, still going strong.

  19. Posted March 9, 2013 at 10:50 am | Permalink | Reply

    women have been well trained to cook by numbers :)
    the rayburn has no numbers! just a sliding scale of heat which means you can interchange your sizzle plates with your spuds and your peas, while still boiling a narrow kettle and keeping the baby food warm on the side
    the all night burning is a myth with the exceptions of a few flukes and the 3.00am wood at loo break system
    speaking local timbers, blackwood fumes and is really unhealthy, eucalypt and casurina fine, but must be DRY, bluegum gives the best chance of a long airless burn, the wood must be DRY the wood must be DRY
    when the wood is dry there is no need to stand over the stove for hours wishing it on
    the sealing of the doors and poor latching is probably the most common reason for too quick a burn, and the repair thereof is worth calling in cyril for refurbishment
    integrity of the firebrick insulation is vital too, if it releases too much heat one issue might be an uneven cook in the oven due to redhot metal
    remember to use your top damper as this encourages the flame over the top of the oven chamber when appropriate
    the essence of pleasure of a wood stove has been well expressed by kirsten and I can but concur XX

  20. Posted March 9, 2013 at 12:23 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Next time you’re in Melbs K I recommend going to an Aga class at the Aga shop in Prahan, they break down all the ways to do all the knobs. For a hot fire (you probably already know this!) shut the bottom dial of the fire box all the way then open it a quarter turn back, open the chimney flu all the way to get it roaring, then shut the flu down to keep it hot. And it is ALL about the wood. Willow gets it up hot quickly for a short time (the person who told be this said their Grandma called it “scone wood”), black wattle gets it up hot quickly and stays hot (my favourite cause they die and stay standing up in the air and dry themselves out perfectly), snappy gum is crap, lots of little bits of pine can help to get it towards up but you need the good stuff to keep it right up and long. It took me three months to get the hang of mine, and it only clicked when someone who grew up with one showed me a bunch of tricks.

  21. Peter Hjelmqvist
    Posted March 9, 2013 at 1:05 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Hi, miss our wood stove in sweden after reading this… First of all, ALWAYS dry wood, for the environment and for soot buid up. Water is not the way to slow down a fire. That missing lever at the top is for slowing down the burning. The fire should always have plenty of oxygen coming in through the vent on the ash box and instead be choked on the chimney end. that way you get nice and clean burn at the speed you want it.
    Ashes is generally liked by fruit bearing plants, contains potassium.
    Without having a look at your stove i’d say the un even oven temp would be either ash or soot build up or some insulating material (clay or brick) thats given up.
    The warming oven is often called drying oven in sweden… Speaks for it self… Good for fruit season!
    Cheers. And happy cooking
    /peter

  22. Gus
    Posted March 9, 2013 at 2:46 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Ah yes the wood fired stove.. Love it! As a few posts have already mentioned, just need to learn about the stove.. We grew up with one and neighbours all had them too..different stoves all seem to have slightly different personalities. We used to constantly rotate different dishes all around the stoves and ovens as we cooked..Keeping flue clean and emptying ash regularly will help. Cast irin is great. The heavier the wood the hotter and stand the wood up vertically wherever possible helps burn better. Good luck!

    • Posted March 10, 2013 at 6:16 am | Permalink | Reply

      Thanks Gus – how does one actually clean the flue? From the stove end? Or from the rooftop end?

  23. Posted March 9, 2013 at 3:38 pm | Permalink | Reply

    We have a 4 oven Thermalux called “Brunhilda”. The firebox is in the middle of the 2 hotter ovens with 2 warming ovens underneath each hotter oven. We had to learn by trial and error about keeping it burning all night. Steve is dictating to me what we do (because he is the fire man and I am just a fire serf ;) )…”you close all of the air vents down (whatever you have that classes for air vents on a rayburn…) and he is saying something about a “diffuser”…(maybe that is the thingo you were talking about?!)…the principle is to load up the fire and stoke it good until it catches and roars a bit with decent logs…then once they start burning close the fire right down and they should slowly burn through the night. Ours does, if that is any consolation ;) We cook sponges in Brunhilda that are gorgeous and the secret is to turn your cakes halfway through cooking. We sometimes turn them 15 minutes into the cooking to make sure that they don’t burn. Get your fire burning nicely then just let the coals burn down a bit and just keep it ticking over if you want to bake cakes etc. You don’t want it too hot. We keep plates warm in the warming oven, dry the coconut left over from making coconut milk to make coconut flour, dry fruit in the coldest warming oven and dry out breadcrumbs and herbs as well. I love Brunhilda and here in Tassie we need her! Good luck with your oven, she looks like a goodn’ and you just have to learn her ways and harness yourself to her like we do with Brunhilda :).

    • Posted March 10, 2013 at 6:14 am | Permalink | Reply

      huzzah for Brunhilda!

      • Posted March 10, 2013 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

        Brunhilda rocks! She isn’t a woodi like yours though so sorry if the info wasn’t really pertinent :)

    • Posted March 10, 2013 at 9:55 pm | Permalink | Reply

      We too have a Thermalux but the gourmet cooker and I am also looking forward to my first winter using Ignisa to heat our smallish house (no other heat source), heat our hot water (there’s solar and then gas and electric boost there but we won’t be using either) and we also have the oven and stovetop to cook with although there is an electric oven and gas and electric cooktop but I want to avoid them. I’m posting this as a reply as Fran linked this up for me and although I’m yet to read it I thought it might help. http://www.metaldynamics.com.au/thermalux/Thermalux%20Booklet%20LR.pdf
      When I have time (probably in the early morning sometime this week) I’ll read through all of the comments in depth (and this link) but I wanted to link this whilst I remembered.

  24. Liz Bromilow
    Posted March 9, 2013 at 7:55 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I cooked daily on a Rayburn in our old house for many years and loved it. Initially I stoked it up really hot after cooking for the lovely warmth but that meant burning out the firebricks more quickly. After replacing them it cooked more evenly. It was possible to get new sets of firebricks (maybe still?) but we cut some to size from a disused boiler in an old cheese factory. Apart from that, letting the oven heat thoroughly then once the coals are more subdued putting in the dish, and of course rotating it halfway through the cooking helps even the heat. Always a little bit of juggling, easier with a little experience. For quick ‘bring a plate’ occasions I relied on ever popular pikelets. Cold with jam and cream they were always gobbled up fast. Easy!

    Fantastic for soup, and great to make real stock on cold days with long, gently simmered bones, veg and fresh herbs. Very delicious. The stove top gave a wonderfully even heat, nothing ever seemed to burn. If extra gentle heat was needed the pot could be half off the hotplate for a while. The warming oven was good for bread rising, yoghurt, slow cooked rice pudding or porridge left overnight…depending on the heat. Putting your hand in for a few seconds lets you guage the heat.

    I let the fire die down at night to save extra creosote clogging the flue, also the atmosphere – and also to minimise the firewood my poor hard-working husband had to cut! Lighting it became very easy and intuitive after a short while. Good to always have a plentiful supply of dry twiggy kindling. Sheoak aka casuarina is the best wood for baking, burns very hot and evenly. Mallee roots are very good, coals last a very long time, and red gum – E. camaldulensis – is pretty good, but guess it depends on what grows around Milkwood. Pretty much anything well seasoned: an old rule of thumb was an inch a year – so wood four inches thick (100cms?) means four years to be really well seasoned. You can tell by the weight when you pick it up.

    Hope you enjoy the Rayburn as much as we did :)

  25. Jodi
    Posted March 9, 2013 at 8:22 pm | Permalink | Reply

    My favourite recipe in the wood stove is slow cooked roast chook. On a cool day when you have the stove just ticking over (oven only needs to be 100-150) put your chook in to roast (I use my big Le Creuset pot for this roast) about lunch time enjoy the smell of roast wafting through the house all afternoon and enjoy a chicken so tender the only catch is it might fall apart while serving. Good for home killed roosters that are a bit older than would normally be desirable.

    Then for the best chicken stock strip any left over meat off the bones to save for another meal and put all the bones and bits and pieces, left over gravy etc back in the pot with some onions, carrots, celery etc and water. Leave this to simmer for the night and you have the best chicken stock ever. Really making the most of, and honoring the critter who has given its life to provide you with nourishment!

    Google slow cook recipes and find myriad tasty recipes to put on at lunch time and appreciate that dinner has magically been cooked for you at dinner time!

  26. Posted March 10, 2013 at 7:59 am | Permalink | Reply

    I would second the types of wood making a big difference in the heat and duration and an internal oven thermometer to give you a better read on the temp. The hot and cold spots actually work out o.k., because you find the hot spot for boiling pasta and move the steamed veggies or sauces to stay warm on the cold(er) spots. Wood stove cooking is a labor of love.

  27. Posted March 10, 2013 at 12:29 pm | Permalink | Reply

    My nan and mum showed me how to cook on a rayburn. I don’t remember a lot in detail, but I will say their dishes complimented the capacity of the wood heater. We ate a lot of puddings, rather than cakes and muffins, because the wetter the dish, the more heat it can take before burning.

    Favourite puddings were: baked rice pudding, chocolate sauce pudding and golden-syrup dumplings – often cooked in heavy enamel pans and dutch ovens, rather than the flimsy steel cookware on offer today.

    As someone who has baked professionally with modern equipment and the old wood stove in the past, I will say if you care about what you’re cooking, you’re going to have to fuss while it’s in the oven. I did this with modern technology (timers, fan-forced, etc) so don’t let the fact it’s a wood stove make you feel like you’re having to do something “extra”. When you care about what you’re cooking, you fuss. ;)

    You’re not supposed to open your oven door when cooking cakes though, for at least 20 minutes, or they will sink. When turning, do it as quick as you can with minimal disturbance to the contents. My favourite piece of equipment for oven cooking, is an electric timer. I learned this trick while working in a bakery. I always buy one from a kitchen retailer. They’re small, relatively inexpensive but they do save a lot of burnt offerings from being put on the table.

    My nan and pop could keep their old rayburn burning overnight (years of experience with chopping wood and cooking with it) and my mum did a pretty good job of keeping it going overnight too – I was a little less good at it! So I think there is something to be said for experience. Know your wood, your vents, your recipes and your cookware. Happy experimenting!

  28. Posted March 10, 2013 at 12:38 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Also forgot to add, scones and damper were the favourite foods cooked on rayburns, rather than breads too. Smothered in warm butter and your favourite topping (home made jam and fresh cream!) and you really didn’t feel deprived.

    The benefit of scones and damper is they didn’t have to be baked as long. If you cook your damper in a dutch oven, you don’t get as much burning on top.

    You could also try looking at cooking bread in a dutch oven. I think it’s called a “no-knead” bread which is easier to make than traditional loaves. It also calls for a slightly wetter dough, so with the lid on the dutch oven, gives a lovely light loaf

  29. Posted March 10, 2013 at 12:39 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Ha-ha! Just read your label on your loaf – it’s a no-knead bread. Sorry, my bad!

  30. Jim
    Posted March 10, 2013 at 8:54 pm | Permalink | Reply

    My mother grew up with a wood stove from early 1920’s and so that was all my parents had from my birth to when I was about 14.
    It wasn’t a slow combustion stove like yours but a Beacon which still did a lot of things.
    It never stayed on all night but would be left to die down after the last person went to bed. It was lit by the first person to rise in the morning and supply a cup of tea soon after before the dairy milking got into full swing.
    By breakfast time there would be a heap of red coals ready to do the toasting of high top bread on the end of a toasting fork. It would then be stoked up again to do more water boiling, boil/fry/scramble eggs and make porridge.
    It would then be left to die down a bit so that custard, cakes including a sponge every week, biscuits, slices and puddings could be cooked either on top or in the oven. A several kilo of roast would be cooked every Friday.
    Most of our jam was made on top too. All our vegies were cooked each day but unfortunately they were cooked for hours so I guess most of the nutrients would be gone.
    We used seasoned offcuts from a sawmill and twigs from our own gum trees.
    Since I have grown up we have had a few stoves of different types but mainly used for warmth and heating water. Tree prunings are good to start if they are very dry to reduce tar and soot build up in the chimney. Also Cypress which you should have access to at Mudgee.
    For main burning stick to the hardwoods, especially Eucalypt.
    To clean the chimney you need a chimney brush on the end of a pole. They come in various sizes to suit the diameter of your flue, ours is a fold up metal pole about 12 feet long. Operate it from the top then clean out all the soot from inside the stove. It should be done before the start of the cool weather then done as required when things start to slow down or ir it gets smokey in the kitchen. That depends on the wood quality and stove operation and could be every couple of months or so.
    If you get your stove going to hot so it starts to glow red, damage will be done to the various components of the casting.
    As others have said, get to know your stove.

  31. Posted March 10, 2013 at 8:59 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Forgot to mention that ash should only be spread lightly around otherwise it increases your pH too much. Put it on the vegies, fruit and other trees and pasture.
    If you end up with black charcoal, separate it from the white ash, and save it to be incorporated into the market garden soil as terra preta.

  32. mluthi
    Posted March 10, 2013 at 9:21 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Google Robinia for an excellent firewood tree. Apparently it comes close to anthracite in heating value. It also coppices well, is fast growing and produces fencing posts that last 120 years in the ground untreated. There are more great attributes, I am growing some from seed for our property.

  33. Posted March 11, 2013 at 1:12 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Hi Guys, well done on your blog and your lifestyle.. I loved living like that through my child rearing years. Plus always had a wood stove. you shouldn’t have to worry about kindling much – you won’t be relighting all winter. keep it burning by making sure no air is going through the firebox. on one stove we used to ope the bottom of the flue so it was sucking air in from the outside and that meant that the fire stayed smoldering, no wood was used up.
    plus many other tips…. Sandy Hook and Spoon Benalla VIC.

  34. Susan Disney
    Posted March 11, 2013 at 7:57 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Lovely reading all of the above. I am jealous as I miss my combustion stove badly but feel they are soon to be banned in residential areas in NSW so won’t buy one. One point on the name of your stove, It is a SLOW COMBUSTION STOVE. A wood stove is similar but different. Made earlier in our history & could not be dampened down for the night.

  35. Jodi
    Posted March 11, 2013 at 8:13 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Wow, I think this is the most comments I have seen on a post on your page. I didn’t read them all, just kind of skimmed. I don’t have a rayburn, but have had an old crown for the last 3 years, it took me about 6mths to figure her out right. Watch and learn and feel. Your hand will soon learn temps by hovering, turn things often until you get the hang of it. Let her teach you. And as far as I read, she doesn’t have a name. Name her and talk to her. Love her.

  36. Phil
    Posted March 12, 2013 at 12:33 pm | Permalink | Reply

    To clean your flue open the square inspection plate on your stove. Drop a rope down the chimney (from the roof, where else?) When the rope reaches the stove inspection box pull it out and tie a large bag (chaff bag size) to the rope, usually in the middle of the bag. Where you tie it depends on the size of your chimney pipe. The bag has to be a tight fit in the pipe to clean it. Pull bag into the chimney just enough to be able to block the inspection hole with the plate or something. If you dont the room will be full of soot. Pull the rope up the chimney and repeat until no more soot/tar falls down.

  37. Sadie
    Posted March 19, 2013 at 4:03 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Hi Kristin,
    I know this is an old post so you may not need any more thoughts….
    But here are some anyway…
    We don’t worry about keeping it lit all night – we fire it up and shut it down but if it goes out, it stays warm and lights quickly in the morning.
    Cleaning the flue: we’ve found that the build up mostly happens in the flue box rather than the flue up the chimney, so pulling that apart and cleaning the gunk away does the trick.
    Riddler is the bit, as you say, between the firebox and ash box. There should be a little lever (the riddler) that you can jiggle in and out that lets the ash fall through.
    Ash: agree, great for fruit, eg, raspberry canes and for chook dust baths
    Bread: no knead sourdough. Get the oven as hot as it will go and then a bit hotter. Cook about 40- 50 mins for a kilo loaf and turn it half way through (we use 550 flour, 350 water, 150 starter and 15-17g salt) – if you want it crispy throw water against the floor of the oven when you put the dough in – the steam crisps it.
    Cakes and souffles: It’ll happen.
    Don’t worry too much about cakes falling when opening the oven door while cooking. It’s a radiant heat that remains in the cast iron so doesn’t escape the way it does in a regular oven.
    Overnight cooking. We play around with what we have: leg or shoulder of lamb/hogget, or lamb flaps or beef shin or any old stewy boney bits. Red wine, water (so it doesn’t dry out) couple of whole onions, several whole garlic (don’t bother peeling either), carrots. And whatever else you like: thyme, bay, olives, bottled tomatoes. Put it in a covered cast iron pot, chuck it in the oven and take it out in the morning. If you need to skim the fat (eg hogget shoulder) , put it in the fridge for the day and take the fat off before heating it up for dinner.
    Rice pudding works the same way.
    Cheers and happy cooking.
    Sadie

  38. Posted March 19, 2013 at 7:00 pm | Permalink | Reply

    We have had a rayburn 500 for around 12 months but only now is it getting close to me being able to use as up until now it has been in pieces. I was doing some google searching and I have found a very helpful website from aga. It is http://www.agashopaustralia.com. It was so good as I was able to download the manual for my stove and it is so very helpful eg- tells you where to place the tray in the oven and what number to have it sitting on for best results. Hope you might get some help from this site and all the best for you cooking adventure. I cannot wait to cook my first meal.

  39. Posted March 21, 2013 at 12:00 am | Permalink | Reply

    I am SO late to answer this post HOWEVER if you watch this documentary the BBC did about Victorian Kitchens ( it has a companion documentary about the kitchen garden with the YODA of gardening) I learned a lot of useless tips for cooking on a range! Only useless for me because I don’t have one but maybe for you!!! Here you go!

    http://videopediaworld.com/video/88864/Victorian-Kitchen-Episode-2-Breakfast

  40. Posted May 29, 2013 at 8:13 am | Permalink | Reply

    Getting wintry now…i am cooking in an old Everhot.. 1st thing, our firebricks were degraded and smashed up, so we took her apart and welded a new firebox out of 12ml steel,(tip shop gold!). This will outlast the stove I reckon, and increases the firebox size pretty dramatically. 2nd hot tip! I have deep litter in the chook house/yard. I throw the Ashes around their house to balance the acidity of chookpoo/barkmulch for eventual compost, and freak out any lurking external parasites as well. I also have a roofed bathtub full of Ashes, sand and soil so chooks can ‘bathe’at their leisure in any weather, rather than needing to insult them with the hanging upside down and filling your lungs with sulpher/derris what not. If I found a louse/mite I’d chuck some pestene into their bath. Why am I talking about chickens? woodstoves!! We use poplar for hot oven & stringy bark for long burning.

  41. chris
    Posted October 23, 2013 at 3:01 pm | Permalink | Reply

    hi, kirsten, how is it going with the Rayburn? i think i read somwhere in the replies that your are in the mudgee district, if so, think about getting a load of coal, rayburns were designed as coal burners and a properly stoked coal burning rayburn will stay “in” for up to 10 hours without any trouble at all. i used to live in the upper blue mts and lithgow, we always used a coal Rayburn. Wood doesnt compare at all.

    • Posted October 23, 2013 at 3:40 pm | Permalink | Reply

      That is very interesting – I spent a lot of time in my Grandma’s house in Lithgow as a kid that ran (literally, rather than 2-steps removed like most of Australia) on coal heat!

  42. Hb
    Posted November 13, 2013 at 6:25 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Hey thanks everyone for your advice, and your useful & cosy stories.

    I’ve just helped to revitalise a model 1 wood-fired Rayburn with my fella, which is the one with a weeny spot to burn the wood and no warming oven, just the hot ‘cooking’ oven, it’s a beautiful little thing.

    However with the oven lies our problem as it doesn’t seem to get above 200 degrees farenheight, no matter how hot we get the fire. I feel like we’re doing everything right, as we’re burning nice aussie hardwoods that we keep going all night, and can use the hotplate and get our kettle whistling in less than ten mins.
    We replaced the fibreglass rope seals, but that didn’t seem to make any difference to the temp of the oven… are we missing something really obvious?

    And what does that little silver knob do that’s to the right of the ash tray do? The one you can pull out.
    Thanks!!

    • Posted November 18, 2013 at 5:59 am | Permalink | Reply

      Are you going off the temperature on the oven door dial? If so, don’t – them things are notoriously wonky. Stick an internal thermometer in the oven and see what’s happening int here… sounds like it’s plenty hot to me if you’re kettle’s whistling.

      The little silver knob to the right of the ash tray is a ‘riddler’ – it wiggles the circular grate at the bottom of the fire box to let ashes fall thru to the ash tray – at least that’s what ours does! :)

      • Hb
        Posted November 18, 2013 at 10:12 am | Permalink

        Thanks Kirsten,
        Your advice is much appreciated. Will try a new thermometer and see how that goes :)

        Cheers, Hb

  43. Su
    Posted April 4, 2014 at 3:39 am | Permalink | Reply

    Have you got yourselves an old fashioned iron yet? Wrap a tea towel around the handle and it works just as good as an electric,a little heavier (mine is a 5) but no annoying flex and no electricity used.
    I simply bake at a time when the oven is hot enough, often in the evening. Cut up pallets burnt give off a good heat and especially good for getting the fire going. Some companies pay to get them taken away and may be happy to give them to you instead free.
    If the oven is on say 200 and I need to bake at 180 I would put the baking on the lower part of the oven. Bread which needs to be hot goes at the top left far back.
    If I want to roast a chicken and the oven won’t be on roast until the evening I simply cook the chicken the night before.(I know it means it’s not hot out of the oven but at least it gets eaten at the right time!) I don’t put extra fuel on to cook or start the rayburn early,I just alter the times at which I cook or bake.
    I use my ash for the garden when it’s pure wood,for hedges,trees and to dig in to lime the soil. And also when it’s not pure wood I fill up holes on
    the track outside.
    And finally have you got a solar thermal panel? It works really well in conjunction with the wood fired Rayburn for your hot water and heating. The Rayburn has to do less work when the temp of the water is even up a few degrees.
    I’m going to enjoy reading everyone’s posts to find out more! :)

  44. Posted September 12, 2014 at 3:46 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I think for your one-sided issue you could erect some kind of aluminium deflector – that might work.

  45. Amanda
    Posted September 26, 2014 at 4:14 am | Permalink | Reply

    Loved reading this thread! We used a Rayburn when I was a child growing up in Cornwall (UK), and Mum loved it even though it was hammered and smeached most of the time. So a couple of years ago we bought an old Rayburn for just shy of £200 plus a van and diesel to fetch it. It has a cottage pie in it as we speak! Keeping in in is no issue although you will need a bit of coal overnight. It is slow cooking in the fullest sense, so weekdays after work I use the electric cooker but love dropping back to the Rayburn at weekends or days I work from home. Meanwhile it gently but thoroughly heats the room… I love the silence with which it cooks; no fans or rattly panels. In the UK our weather varies much throughout the day – a rain cloud can affect your slowly cooked cake; sometimes driving the Rayburn requires more attention than others. At this changeable season she is lit and warming the kitchen/ dining room, when colder, the multi-fuel stove will do the heating and water. I love our old cheapie, am pleased to have been able to re-use something that could have cost a fortune brand new, and Mum likes nothing better than to park her rear in front of it!

    • Su
      Posted September 27, 2014 at 7:26 pm | Permalink | Reply

      A wise woman,your mum! :)

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