13 May 2011

Seattle Woodfire Oven Dinner

Photo by Lynn Craig, Cookie Baker Lynn

This post was taken down by Blogger due to technical issues, I am so glad that I can repost and bring you our adventures in Seattle...I apologize to anyone who has already commented or read this article previously.

In 2004/2005 Don Hogeland of Sortachef in Seattle built his woodfired oven, firing it up in Spring and ambitiously entertaining throughout the summer. Fast forward to 2011 and he has perfected the oven pizza as well as many other treats cooked by the same method. One day soon you may find Don teaching classes on how to build your own backyard woodfire oven! Selfishly I would love it if Don and his beautiful wife Cathy, The Salad Queen, would teach cooking classes in their home based on their woodfire oven. I would sign up! How often does a person get the opportunity to bake pizza in an outdoor wood oven? Nothing is more intimate, or more effective at creating friendships, than cooking and sharing meals together and a wood fire oven is a sure conversation starter.

Don and his wife Cathy are masters in the kitchen from making their own fennel and chicken sausage for a meat lovers pizza to a specially prepared Spelt pizza dough for a friend attending the dinner who has allergies to wheat. Visit his site for his infamous pizza recipes and many fascinating travel stories and recipes.

Burrata and Roasted Peppers Crostini
Pizza in the Making

Don built his oven from the ground up. With planning, he says it took about 8 months from start to finish. Building a wood-fired oven is an ambitious Spring project that will bring you, your family and friends years of enjoyment. And best of all you will have an authentic Italian wood-fired oven that you built from the ground up that's perfect for all of your favorite recipes.  At the ovens heart is a Valoriani unit imported from Italy by Mugnaini of California. The floor of a pizza oven (about 42” off the ground) rests on a slab of concrete that floats on 6 inches of sand, all of which sits on a hidden slab of concrete that weighs nearly a ton.

Photo from Sortachef

I met Don a few years ago when I arranged for a group of Seattle area bloggers to have a tour of Pike Place Market with Jan Marie Johnson of Seattle Bites. Since that time we have tried to get together when I am in Seattle over dinner. In the fall Don suggested a woodfire oven dinner at his own home with an Italian theme. We were all aboard and it gave us the opportunity to meet spouses and the rest of the family. We noshed on everything from antipasto to reindeer coldcuts from cannoli cake to tonnato stuffed pepppers with old friends and new.

My first experience with a woodfire oven was on the island of Kea in Greece at Keartisinal. An outdoor kitchen is a must in the Greek climate and Costas had built his oven from the ground up. Don's backyard oven takes the process several steps further with a professional oven that plays a very important role in all of their outdoor entertaining. Don says, "The woodfire oven has become a focal point for our entertainment and has changed my cooking and baking forever!"

Traditional wood burning ovens are suitable for a wide range of cooking - hearth breads, roasting, drying, smoking, Tandoori, stews, soups, not forgetting genuine Neapolitan pizza! This is because a wood fired oven quickly reaches an initial temperature of over 900F and cools very slowly without further firing. This makes a wide range of cooking possible, even into next day.

Don gathers wood, mostly fruit trees, from many sources but the bulk is delivered to their home in Seattle. Cooking with wood in a wood fired pizza oven, and in particular, using apple or oak wood adds unique and delicious flavours to all foods that cannot be compared to food cooked in a conventional oven. Once fired up, woodfire ovens cook food considerably faster than any other oven which is why they are excellent for entertaining. The addition of a wood fired oven to an out-door kitchen adds a wonderful new dimension to out-door living, whatever the season. A warm homely fire and great food are guaranteed to give a comforting welcome to family and friends.

Thank you Don and Cathy for sharing your stories, your knowledge and your lovely home, and for making this Canadian feel more than welcome. Wood Fired Cooking is a really enjoyable experience, you can watch your food cook, while socialising and create a focal point like no other. I sliced, I diced, and ate my way to culinary nirvana and loved every minute of it!!!! The photos speak for themselves!

See what we have to say:

Don Sortachef - Spelt Pizza
Lynn, Cookie Baker Lynn - Fabulous Foodie Feast

Don't forget dessert!

Cannoli Cake

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison. Best Blogger Tips


  1. What a fun experience! All of the food looks delicious but I'm extra partial to cannoli cake!

  2. Fantastic! I'd love to bake my pizzas in a wood oven.



  3. I love Sortachef's blog and envy that wood-burning oven (and Mister Meatball's also). That looks like the grandest of dinners. We have toyed with a wood-burning oven - but in MN - I don't know. But this does entice.

  4. Wow, that is a very impressive outdoor oven. I can imagine that the wood fire gives foods a wonderful smoky flavor. Your dinner at Don's house sounds like great fun.

  5. How lucky for you to have a friend with a pizza oven like that. There's nothing to compare.

  6. Love pizzas like this!! gloria

  7. I wish I was there. That pizza looks so good.

  8. I soooo wish I could have my own wood burning oven! The food looks really yummy!!!

  9. Building my own oven seems like a lot of work. I'm more than happy to let him do the cooking for me!

  10. How fun! All the food looks amazing - especially the pizza.

  11. Vall! Ihad the same porblem, I have to do my post again, I love this pizza, look delicious! gloria

  12. Woowweee! That look absolutely fabtastic!! xxxx

  13. WOW! What a fantastic feast!

  14. Oh my goodness! I would love this pizza! Reminds me of chicago fire restaurant in my area. :)

  15. I used to live in Seattle and will be visiting again soon - this is great to know about!

  16. Fab food.

    You know how I feel about blogspot/google....

  17. Hi Valli,
    such a beautiful blog with amazing cliks!!
    Now I am following you,
    Have a nice day!


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