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Once a year, my friends and I rent a cabin somewhere off the grid. Sometimes, those cabins (or small ex-farms) still have working stone ovens. It's not hard, you make a big fire and when the wood has been reduced to embers and the stone has soaked up the heat, you put your baking goods into it. It works great for pizza, bread, pastries, everything. You have to inspect the state of the process from time to time, but as you get more experience you need to do it less frequently.

Personally, when I bake things in modern ovens, I don't use the thermometer either. Sort of, because they still have a thermostat of course. But in general you really don't need a thermometer for baking.

How do you inspect and decide what the oven is right for?

Like others have said, mostly based off of experience and reference.

For example, I've baked a pizza enough times _with_ a timer and specific, but different temperatures set that now I need neither and can just adjust the temperature to what I'm used to and know that the pizza only needs a certain amount of time. The end result should be a certain way. As long as it gets there correctly then whether there's a timer/no timer it should be fine.

Do you put different things in at different periods of the burn cycle, and how do you determine what to put in when

I would say by trial and error, although I didn't really experience any bad results yet. When the fire has reached the ember stage, temperature can remain stable for a long time.

In general, you can put in things with a large surface-to-volume ratio at almost any point, like pizza, pretzels, or buns. If you put them in early they just get done faster. With larger things like bulky bread loaves, I would wait a bit until the oven cools down somewhat because they are at risk of heating up slowly on the inside while the outside is already done. Personally, I find the bread variants with larger surfaces more appealing, so I don't have a lot of experience with the bulky ones. With pastries it depends on the temperature tolerances of their components.

Really, I would suggest you try it out yourself. I found that intuition works pretty well, even for me as a city-dweller with a non-agricultural background.

There are some kinds of food that evolved out of that question. French tarte flambée (a very thin pizza-like dough with a topping of sour cream, bacon and onions) was used to determine if the oven has the right temperature for bread. If the temperature is right is bakes in a handful of minutes. So you'd heat up the oven and do a couple of test-bakes with a quick tarte. Then you'd bake the bread while not heating the oven. After the bread, the oven has the right temperature for cakes.

I do it like the guy above and I just set it to some amount of heat and keep looking at the thing every 5 min. You can gather from the looks of it if it's going too slow or too fast and adjust accordingly.

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