This is the next in our series of educators featured in our Bake Twentyfive issue. Each weekday, we will spotlight a new instructor or educator in the fields of baking, pastry, and chocolate.
Richard Miscovich teaches artisan bread baking to culinary students at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island, and to home and professional bakers at classes and conferences around the country. He served on the board of directors of The Bread Bakers Guild of America from 2006 to 2011. In 2014 he received the Johnson & Wales Distinguished Scholarship Award, and was also inducted into the International Les Amis d-Escoffier Society.
“I love to see the light bulb of understanding get turned on in the home baker, culinary students or seasoned professionals,” Miscovich says. “The feeling isn’t just based on the excitement of the moment, but also the transfer of knowledge regarding the traditional craft of bread baking. It is amazing to observe bakers absorb and internalize the proper process of making such a fundamental food.”
As for the future, Miscovich sees a renewed interest in local grain systems, which he views as a positive.
“Trends over the course of the millennia of bread baking are hard to come by,” he says. “However, we are presently fortunate to have the local grain system become entrenched in residential and professional baking circles. What better way to celebrate the staff of life than with locally grown and processed waves of grain?”
Miscovich is the esteemed author of “From The Wood-Fired Oven,” published by Chelsea Green Publishing, and instructs the online Craftsy course Handmade Sourdough: From Starter to Baked Loaf.
Miscovich began baking European hearth breads in 1996 after graduating in the first class taught at the San Francisco Baking Institute. During that same trip, he visited Alan Scott and was introduced to the Scott brick oven design, just as interest in artisan baking and wood-fired ovens dramatically increased. He immediately began construction of a wood-fired oven in coastal North Carolina, and opened an organic micro-bakery, One Acre Garden and Bakery, specializing in organic artisan hearth breads. Miscovich is assistant professor at Johnson & Wales. In addition to teaching culinary students, he is a popular instructor for home bakers and brick oven hobbyists, and is a regular guest at venues around the country where he teaches artisan techniques.
In “From the Wood-Fired Oven,” Miscovich offered a new take on traditional techniques for professional bakers, but presents his ideas simply enough to inspire nonprofessional baking enthusiasts as well. Most people know that some items can be baked in a masonry oven with the wood fire burning. But many may not know that other foods can be baked after the ashes of that fire have been brushed out, using the immense store of heat that remains in the masonry mass of the oven dome and the oven floor.
Most baking books focus simply on how to bake bread or pizza in a wood-fired oven, but “From the Wood-Fired Oven” is unlike other baking books. From recipes on how to get maximum use out of a single oven firing to the first live-fire roasting or drying wood for the next fire, this book encompasses a wide range of useful topics for home and artisan bakers.