Making my own Pizza Oven. Anyone else done this?

Hi everyone, my first post on here apart from my first blog entry.

I'm getting into baking bread in a big way. My family says the smell of fresh bread really makes a house a home and for me its so rewarding. I was facinated by the sour dough pizza recipe and I'm going to give it a try in a few weeks time when I have a bit of normal sour dough bread baking under my belt. I would love to build a pizza oven in my garden, the idea of having friends and family sat out in the garden during the summer, each having a pizza in the oven has got its hooks into me, since we love our BBQ's so much.

 

I wondered if anyone has built a pizza oven and has any advice?

I have the rough dimensions and I am told standard bricks and cement will suffice. I am thinking about having a granite slab as the area for the pizzas to cook on.

We have a few fruit trees in our garden and my father-in-law, who smokes meats on his allotment with pear and apple wood, has got me thinking it might influence the pizza base flavour, all very exciting.


Any input really welcome!

Matty

11 comments

Hi Matty

one piece of advice do not use standard house bricks for the base of the oven, over time these bricks become brittle and  may chip and end up in your pizza base then someone bites into a bit of brick and breaks a tooth!   So use refractory fire bricks and refractory concrete that are made to withstand prolonged heat, over the long term your oven will: (a) last longer (b) work more efficiently. I have both a Allan Scott oven which Allan built for me and a mudbrick oven that we built long before we knew what we were doing, the mudbrick oven had house bricks on the base which we covered with a layer of cement fondue (refractory concrete) and then refractory tiles, it was a very difficult job retro fitting the base, so do it right the first time, you mention using a granite slab for your base, not sure how this would work but someone else might have some experience with this material. Best of luck and do lots of research a simple google "pizza oven construction" will give you a start. 

Cheers Lyn 

There is a Brick Oven newsgroup on Yahoo! that gathers people with many years of experience building and using wood-fired ovens.

You can get free oven plans from Forno Bravo: www.fornobravo.com/

You can find lots of information about wood-fired ovens at my Quest for Ovens web pages: spbc.info/quest/index.html

If all you want is to bake a few pizzas, building a mortared oven is overkill (in my opinion).

I find that temporary brick ovens are a much faster and cheaper was: spbc.info/quest/brickovens_links.html#temporarybrickovens

 

Hi MattyW

There is a UK-based forum that addresses such things and there is a UK-based manufacturer of ready-made ovens.  We have their largest oven and it has been good so far (we have used it 3 or 4 times so far, but only because we didn't take delivery until the end of February 2012).

 

My first pizza baking

One of my first pizzas (with a sourdough base using Caputo Pizzeria flour)

[quote=Ruralidle][/quote]

Don't we have a rule around here that you can't pictures like that?  Now I'm going to have to buy me a pizza oven.  

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." Jim Elliot

 

Hi.  I made my own wood-fired oven.  I found the general design guidelines on the web, but the design was my own and I used cob (clay/sand mix)

 

I used fence posts for the legs, then got a good wooden pallet for the base. These are generally 40"x 48"  (1.0m x 1.2m).  They are designed to take about 600Kgs, so I added a little reinforcement.  I bought 12 air bicks for the base, these are very light and give good insulation.  On top of the airbricks I placed about 60 house bricks, bottom side up.  In order to keep everything in place and to stop the bricks from 'wandering' with time, I put a layer of about 1" of cob mixed with straw. The straw is important as it holds everything in place.   This gave me a flat platform at about waist height that was slightly larger than the pallet.

I decided I wanted an opening about 20 inches wide in order to accomodate a good size pizza.  This meant I made a wooden former out of old floorboards and hardboard.  The idea was to make a hemisperical arch about 20 inches in diameter and about 12-14 inches deep.  This was used to support the brick opening.  I used 12 housebricks to form the arch, and each one had a wedge shaped layer of cob as mortar.  You build it up from the base and put the top two in last. 

Next I made a mould for the dome.  This was made of two layers of corrugated cardboard.  It has to be strong to support the thickness of cob.  (You can use a sand mold, which you dig out when you have finished, but that would mean youhad a large amount of sand left over).  Generally the advice is that the opening should be apprx 70% of the height of the internal dimensions of the oven.  This meant the internal diameter of the oven should be about 28".  My cardboard mold was made in three parts, a vertical bit round the edge about 8-10 inches high, a middle section that sloped at 45 degrees, again about 8-10", and a top which was about 15-16" diameter.  You need a LOT of internal reinforcing of the this cardboard mold.  I also supported the top internally with a bit of wood.  When the mold is complete, you place it on the base next to the brick arch.  You should have a space about 8 " at each side of the mold. 

Then you need to mix up a lot of cob.  You can find the details on the web.  You mix garden clay (NO organic material) with builders sand something like 3 parts sand to 1 part clay, depending on the sand content of the clay.  I used about 11 bags of sand.  First put a layer of wet newspaper over the cardboard mold, then put a layer of 1-2" of cob over the mold. This layer should not have straw in it or the fire will burn it and loosen it.   Then you mix in some straw with the rest of the cob (to give it tensile strength- see web for details). You build up a layer of about 6" thick around the base.  I stopped when I got halfway up, to let it dry out and gain some strength before I did the top.  Next day I finished the top.  Then I put a cosmetic layer of cob with no straw(1-2") over that - looks nicer).  My oven has no seperate chimney, the smoke comes out the front opening.  This way, when it is up to temperature, when I cover the opening, it stays hotter longer.  Leave for a few days/week to dry out. then light a SMALL fire inside to help the drying process.  I left mine for a week or two befor I light a proper fire.  This will burn the cardboard mold completely.

 

Et voila. Keep it covered from rain.  I will post some pictures when I get a chance if that would be of interest.

 

Cooking? well thats another long post.  Ther's more to it than meets the eye......

 

johnb

I have recorded and linked to a number of UK sources for ovens: http://spbc.info/quest/components_links.html#uk There is also a group on Facebook, Gypsy Bakers, https://www.facebook.com/groups/172244292876828/ with this description: "This is a group for lovers of Realbread and woodfired ovens. We bake our sourdough breads in a woodfired oven in East Sussex and are selling them in outlets in the centre of Lewes."

Thanks so much for all the great info above, really informative and helpful!

 

ps. Leaddog the photo of the pizza after it had come out of your wood oven looks amazing, I'd buy that pizza!

 It is a charcoal fired oven and yes I have made a few pizzas in it.  I get the temperature up to 700 and 800 degrees and the pizza is done in 5 minutes.

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." Jim Elliot