If you’ve ever had the opportunity to dine in a restaurant or pizzeria that used a wood-fired brick oven in the cooking process, you know just how naturally the flavor blooms through the entire dish. For many years only the wealthy could afford private brick ovens, leaving the rest of us searching for a smokey, crowded, public spot to grab a slice. Below you will see some basic tips in building your own oven. They show that not only is creating your own wood-fired pizza oven possible, it is actually fairly simple.
To begin the actual construction part of your project, you should first choose a plot of land for your foundation. Try to pick an area with no over hanging tree branches, and avoid are full of objects that are susceptible to fire. Ensure when digging your foundation that you dig down a couple of feet so that the base of your oven won’t be heaved by frost.
There is a wide range of materials you can use in building the next phase of your project, which is the base. Concrete is usually the easiest and cheapest way to do it, but you can also use adobe, cob, mortar, rocks, or a combination of these and many other materials. Allow the base of your oven to be decorative yet durable. Using porous materials, such as sand and gravel, is fine, but make sure that you pack it down tightly to prevent the oven from settling over time.
The next step is your hearth slab. Before you pour the slab, you should cut the wire framework to stabilize the slab during curing. If you plan to have an ash trap in your oven, then make sure you leave a slot in your hearth slab for the ashes to drop through.
It’s now time to start building the oven hearth. Most ovens today use firebrick, which is readily available at just about any hardware lot. Another popular material is Soapstone. Soapstone absorbs and holds heat at a three-to-one ratio to firebrick. It may cost a little more but will improve the overall efficiency of your oven. Once you have acquired the material for your hearth, mock the layout you want with paper or cardboard. This will help get accurate measurements. The dimensions of the hearth should reflect the shape of the hearth slab while allowing space for the vault walls.
The next step in the building process is to construct the vault and baking chamber, of your oven. The vault of a brick oven will have a minimum of two layers. The inner shell of the oven will be the actual oven chamber, and the second layer will be an outer shell, primarily for safety and insulation. The inner shell should be made with firebricks or soapstone, but the outer shell can be made from ordinary brick, mortar, plaster, or any readily available materials. Make sure when building your vault that you include a flue into the plans. The flue will chimney the baking chamber and increase air circulation.
Once the vault is completed, you will have to put a cap on the flue to protect it from the weather. Any cap of weatherproof material will work, and if you can’t find something you like, flip a wok upside down and weld it to the flue.
Once construction is completed, give the oven a week to settle and dry, then start a small fire in the center of the baking chamber. Let it burn itself out, then build a bigger fire and repeat this step until you are satisfied that you have allowed heat to gradually bake the inside of the chamber.
During building, try and install permanent thermometers into the baking chamber and the hearth to closely monitor temperature.
To start baking in your brick oven, you must first build a fire. This step is known as firing the oven. Depending on the composition and shape of your oven, firing time can vary between one to two hours. As the fire burns heat is captured inside the oven and saturates the masonry. A longer fire ensures that the masonry will be evenly heated all the way through.
Once the oven has been thoroughly fired, and the heat evens out, the masonry will start to return the heat back to the baking chamber. The shape of the dome will allow for better circulation of the heated air. Make sure you keep an eye on the temperature of the hearth; when the hearth reaches about 600 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s time to start baking!
Anything that you would normally bake in a conventional oven, can be prepared in your wood-fired brick oven: pizza, roast, panned vegetables, brownies, even custard.
With these tips and some basic construction savvy, you too can have your very own Wood-fired, retained heat, brick oven.With these tips