Saturday, 16 October 2010

How to make our clay oven

Lots of people build clay ovens. This week, we started ours by marking out a circle on the ground:

Building a circle of stones using dry-stone-wall skills, with a thin layer of lime mortar to hold them in place (and stop hornets nesting in the cracks):

Completing the stone circle (which is filled with rubble that's been sitting around up here looking untidy):

Laying some sand on the top to get it Really Flat, and placing some fire bricks (which have also been sitting around for a while) on top:

Making the inside shape of the oven, using bought sand that will be re-used later:

Covering it with newspaper:

Building up the first layer using our own clay and some more of that sand:

And finishing it just before dark:

We couldn't have done this so fast without our new friends Ben and Anna who, for the second time this year, stayed an extra night because they couldn't tear themselves away.

(Obviously, this wasn't the only thing we did this week. We also cut, split and stacked a huge amount of wood, and dug a Very Important Trench. But it wasn't all lazing around, enjoying the Relaxing French Lifestyle - we also ate great food, drank excellent wine, and stayed up far too late, far too often.)


Sarah said...

I'm planning to build a clay oven next month. I've looked up loads on the web and will be building something using the same method as you. I just wondered whether you have any useful learnings to pass on before I start? You know the kind of thing...if we built it again we'd make sure that we..... or tips on cooking in it?

Thanks in advance, Sarah.

the devolutionary said...

Hi Sarah,
We ended up making this twice actually. We never got around to firing it the first time and only had a garden gazebo over it. One night we had some heavy snowfall and the gazebo collapsed into the unfired oven.
So I scraped up all the clay and started again rebuilding the top half.
So, I have to say a good rain proof roof over it, is the most important thing. We still only have a plastic tarp over it but rain and moisture does somehow still get in.
We fired it gradually but still had a lot of cracking once it got up to the high temps. And it does get hot! But the cracks don't seem to affect it's performance at all.
We are still getting used to cooking with it. I always tend to burn the first pizza that goes in. But we've had a few good sessions of bread or pizza, followed by muffins, followed by a stew/curry in a sturdy clay cook pot that sits in the cooling oven all day. Delicious!!!
Happy experimenting.
Clare (Her Outdoors)