Posts tagged ‘cob’

The first pizza of the spring.

We had wonderful weather here this week.  Winter has been a long and cold one (by our standards), and spring is finally starting to show its colours.  It was a beautiful 21 degrees here today and we decided to get the wood fired oven going.

Wood fired oven in spring

The wood fired oven complete with roof.

It has been a long time since I have managed to get a post up onto this blog.

It has been a very busy winter, as well as wet and cold.  But since my last post I am beginning to master the art of cooking with the wood fired oven.  You’ll see by comparing my last picture with the one on this post, I have whitewashed the oven to seal it and built a roof over the top to keep the rain off.  This makes a big difference not having to cook with something made of wet mud.

The oven takes about an hour and a half to get hot enough to cook pizza well (350 to 400 degrees celcius), but I have to keep coals in the oven otherwise it cools down quickly.  To get the oven to hold the heat well it really needs warming up for about 2.5 to 3 hours.  If I get it to this stage it will stay warm for 12 hours and is useful for cooking in for about 4 to 5 hours.  This is when we cook our pizza for lunch, bread in the afternoon, and roast for dinner.  It really does make wonderful pizza and bread.  If you have the space I would recommend you make one.  If you do have one, let me know how you find it to cook with by posting a comment below.

First pizza!

Following on from my last post about building our wood fired oven from earth, I finally managed to get the fire right.  And we managed to cook our first pizzas.

You would think it was simply a matter of lighting a fire in the oven and away you’d go.  The few goes were a disaster simply getting it lit.  I then fitted a chimney to it (the original plan hadn’t included one), and found that it drew much better so the fire could be started much more easily.

I then discovered you shouldn’t be shy when building a fire in these things.  I reckon my first few efforts must have been too wimpy, and the thermometer struggled to pass 100 degrees Celsius.  This time I went all out and it worked a treat.  It got so hot that it set fire to the door (it was wood as per the instructions), and the thermometer went off the scale.  As you could imagine I was well chuffed, and the pizza was great.

We are going to try a roast this weekend, and we’ll probably chuck a few loaves of bread it as well.  I’ll have to make a new door, and I think the key is not to keep it in place while the oven is heating up, just place it once you have spread the coals in preparation for cooking (the instructions were very vague on the use of the door).  This should keep the heat in to enable the bread and roast to cook well.

I’ll keep you informed.

Building My Wood Fired Oven

Earth wood fired ovenOver the last few months I have been building a wood fired oven in my backyard.  Wood fired ovens have become quite trendy over the last few years and they are starting to show up all over the place, from custom bespoke ones to “off the shelf” ones from the local hardware store.  I suppose they all work, probably very well.  But mine is different.  I built it myself.

Not only did I build it myself, but so far it has cost me less than $150, and (if you ask me) it looks the bees knees.  The secret to building my wood fired oven is that it is made from cob or adobe (depending on which part of the world you are from).

We recently did some work putting in retaining walls which involved some excavation.  From this we had a pile of subsoil that I earmarked for building the oven.  Several years ago I got “Building with Cob” for Christmas by Adam Weismann and Katy Bryce.  In it they describe how (not suprisingly) to build with cob.

Basically cob is subsoil that has about 25% of clay in it.  Too much clay and it will crack too much when you build.  Too little and the mix won’t bind together and your structure will fall apart.  In the book they describe how to do a soil test.  Thankfully my subsoil came out pretty much right, so all I had to add was straw when I mixed it.  (Straw acts as a re-inforcer in the mix, like steel bars in concrete).

Over the coming weeks I’ll talk more about the building of my oven, and eventually I want to release a video on how I did it.  But for now, let me know, have you build anything like this?  What guides did you use, and was it a success?

-->