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Wood fired outdoor oven cooking: build it and bake

It has only been over the last few weeks that I've begun to get my strength back after so long of being floored by my bout of H1N1. I've been in rehab. But while living a sanatorium existence I'd steal what mobile time I had and built a mud oven -- from clay, vermiculite and finally a lovely layer of horse manure and more clay . It would have been nice to do the Xmas dinner in but I have been so physically challenged that it was only today that I was up to attempting a bake. Unfortunately, as I was stoking the flames, a storm rolled in from the South West and I didn't much care for cooking in a downpour. So tonight's pizza was cooked in the domestic oven.

But -- without going into design attributes -- this oven draws like a beauty.No chimney. No flue. Air in and air out through the doorway and it really gets up a roll of flame.It's like a wave.

Outdoor wood fired ovens are about heating up the oven walls and retaining that heat to cook whatever -- bread, pizza, casseroles, cakes, stews, tagines, whatever. So you remove the hot ashes and start loading in the grub and rely on the thermal mass of the walls to hang onto the centigrades -- thus the use of vermiculite which retains heat so well.

My last touch was the corrugated iron  Nissen hut roof. Mud ovens are permiable and as well as breathing, also leak and erode.So you need to protect them from weathering.

There are some other, rather radical design features of my own invention.
  • The base is rubble and dirt filled recycled car tires. I coated them with clay as a fire suppressant measure. Next to the oven at right, the bar-b-que is also built on a tire  base.free foundations.
  • The cradle that holds the platform is a bread tray form laid with two levels of bricks and a clay/vermiculite mix.
  • The internal oven chamber is a large terracotta pot with a doorway cut into it. That's its door --with handle -- resting on the tires.
  • While originally a dome shape on the outside, I added a  Mohawk  ridge so that I could suspended the corrugated roof  roughly 10 cm above  the oven. When the sheeting settles into shape I'll remove the brick weights and wire the two corrugated iron  pieces together.
Afterthoughts? I should have built a bigger oven.

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