Inspired by the class I took with Stu Silverstein at the Kneading Conference, I built a clay (or cob) oven! Built on Labor Day Weekend (with the foundation platform made ahead of time), the sand dome was made on Sunday, the oven was made on Monday, it was hollowed out on Thursday, and we baked our first pitas & pizzas on Friday. And on Sunday we baked our first loaves of bread.
I had bought the book by Kiko Denzer, “Build Your Own Earth Oven”, two or three years ago, but it took some hands-on experience and Stu (a great teacher) to make me feel like I could really do it.
This oven was built on a wooden platform and stands on sawhorses. So no need to dig a deep foundation and site it permanently in your yard. Also, I used dry clay (from a pottery supply store) — great for those who don’t have a lot of clay in their soil or who don’t want to do a lot of digging.
Total cost of the oven: $128.50
Leo builds the 36″ square base that will hold the perlite-cement mixture.
Leo measures out the perlite.
Paul smooths out the cement-perlite mix.
Laying out the fire bricks.
Jesse spraying the sand dome to keep it damp.
The oven in action!
Leo brings in a pizza.
Ian shows off his delicious sourdough bread!
|Items I already had|
|2 sawhorses||for holding the oven|
|tarp||for mixing and covering the oven|
|Items I had to buy|
|Wood||Georgetown Lumber||$ 18.00||for a 36″ square foundation platform and peel|
|Portland cement||Georgetown Building Supply||$ 5.00||I got a discount on an open bag.|
|12.5 pounds (a half bag) of perlite||Nunan’s Nursery||$ 20.00||This was the hardest item to find. Greenhouses can order for you — this one was called “Whittemore Horticultural Grade Perlite”).|
|concrete mixing tub||Georgetown Building Supply||$ 12.00|
|19 fire bricks||Georgetown Building Supply||$ 28.50|
|1.5 bags of clay||Portland Pottery Supply||$ 20.00||40 mesh Hawthorn Bond fireclay from Christy Minerals|
|10 bags of all-purpose sand||a big chain store||$ 25.00||4 for the sand form, 6 for the oven mud|
|Grand Total||$ 128.50|
The oven interior is 25″ in diameter and can hold four standard bread loaf pans. More info on how an oven like this can be built can be found here:
- Kneading Conference 2010- Building a Clay Oven by class participant Mark Spahr
- How to Shape the Dome using a Catenary Arch (and other oven tips from Stu — keep going back in his archive to read more )
And a note to Jamie Oliver: Why are you suggesting people spend $5000-$10,000 on a pizza oven when they can build their own for under $150??? You should take this up with your school kids — a great learning project.
Special thanks go to: Leo Godley (for endless enthusiasm), Sophie Godley (for being amazed and for allowing it in the yard), Vera and Nigel Godley (for helping me attend the Kneading Conference), Freddy and Sammy Kniker (for sand dome inspection), Paul Snyder (for cement-perlite base mixing), Ian, Jesse and Aida DeWeese-Boyd (for sand dome construction), Finn Murphy (mud delivery), and Peter Rudd (for impromptu construction of a beautiful oven door).