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Outdoor wood fired ovens are a throwback to a time when our ancestors cooked with wood burning stoves. It was all well and good in cold weather but once spring came they either moved the cooking to the summer kitchen, or they began to bake using an outdoor oven. I’ve made a few of them over the years. The first couple were made of mud and straw packed over a small pile of wet sand. Once the clay/mud mixture had hardened, we cut an opening and withdrew the now dry sand. It works well enough once have built a door to hold in the heat.
Last fall I constructed a platform for an oven in my backyard. I used recycled bricks of different colours. I created a three sided base that allowed me to store wood in the bottom opening. Using a sidewalk slab of concrete, more bricks, and motor, I built the platform up to about 4 feet. This provided me with the surface to build the actual oven portion. Again using recycled bricks from an old fireplace, I used bricks and motor over a small mold to create an arch structure. I had to sand off the final top blocks to create a ‘key’ of blocks that fit neatly into place holding the bricks together. I finished off the oven with a wooden door covered with light sheet metal on the inside. I sanded off an old paddle of Kathy’s to create a tool to move the bread, pizza, and roasts that I now cook in the oven. I don’t think Kathy noticed the absence of her paddle. I imagine that this oven is not meeting some code or other in my suburban home, so please don’t call Bylaw on me!
Earlier this May, I visited Don and family at Stinson Studios. I told Don about the oven and within minutes we had Joanne in love with the idea. Using a forklift (without brakes it was a bit tricky), we stacked three huge relatively flat rocks to create a base for the oven. There must nearly a ton of rock in this base! There used to be a brick yard in Tamworth, the village near Stinson Studios. It was with a touch of history that we went looking and found Star bricks made in that old now long gone, brick yard. We built a frame of wood and arched the bricks with motor. Don’s son Spike was home for a bit and built a layer of cement over the top of the oven. Using a wire mesh shaped inside the oven, he then cemented a layer inside the oven. We used two small copper tubes in the back of the oven to create an air draft for improved combustion. After building a good fire for an hour or so, he raked out the burning logs but kept the coals and embers in place. Spike then cooked a couple of loaves of bread in the new oven! I heard that last night they tried pizza! I’ve been thinking about a small turkey … and maybe some bagels … and a leg of lamb … and some flatbread! If you’re interested in more details and even some recipes of things we have made, please contact us!
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