how to build a garden oven

how to build a garden oven

Meet the skilled

In 2008 Simon Brookes attended a Construct and Bake course at Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage HQ in Devon, the place he discovered learn how to cook dinner in a wood-fired oven and learn how to construct one. “I got here residence and thought, ‘I’m going to construct my very own pizza oven,’” remembers Simon. “I’m not sensible; I can do primary DIY, however building is out of my consolation zone. If I can do it anybody can.”

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Whereas constructing his pizza oven Simon began a weblog in regards to the undertaking and the meals he was cooking within the oven. Quickly, would-be oven builders acquired in contact from everywhere in the world, sharing images of their ovens and swapping ideas. Finally he put all his expertise into an e-book known as How you can Construct a Conventional Wooden-fired Clay Pizza Oven.

Simon’s undertaking hasn’t been a mere flash within the pan. “It’s changed our barbecue,” he says. “A clay oven takes an hour to stand up to temperature, however as soon as it does, you’re cooking pizza in 60 seconds, with a crisp base and a unbelievable smoky flavour.”

Wooden-fired ovens cook dinner at very excessive temperatures – round 400°C. Home ovens can’t get that sizzling. They’re not only for pizzas, although. When you sweep out the embers and let it cool a little bit, the oven’s good for slow-roasting. “I’ve cooked joints in a single day at round 130°C,” says Simon.

A little bit of historical past

Removed from being a new-fangled invention, clay ovens are 1000’s of years outdated. The traditional Egyptians used clay ovens and examples have been unearthed in Roman Pompeii that may nonetheless work right this moment if cleaned out and fired up. Ovens like these have been in-built communal areas and shared by households. By Medieval instances, the ovens had turn into greater and have been used to bake bread for complete villages. Many Italian properties had wood-fired ovens inside up till the center of the twentieth century.

Pizza ovens: the place to be taught to DIY

  • Simon runs programs on constructing and cooking on the Sustainability Centre in Hampshire
  • River Cottage presents a Construct and Bake course
  • Manna from Devon runs two programs on cooking in wood-fired ovens. One focuses on the ovens and cooking at excessive temperatures. The opposite seems to be at utilizing the residual warmth for desserts, pastry and slow-cooked pork and lamb. There’s additionally 
a free two-hour taster session.


First, resolve the place to web site your oven. Not like a barbecue, you may’t transfer a pizza oven across the backyard as soon as it’s constructed. Select an space with loads of house round it – someplace in full daylight is nice.

How lengthy will it take? You need to be capable to construct it over a summer season weekend if the climate’s wonderful.

What you’ll want…

You may get most of this stuff from builder’s retailers – if not, we’ve given different choices

  • About 30 bricks: not less than 20 will should be clean and strong, with no recess (frog) or holes (perforations), to type your oven flooring.
  • 20 breeze blocks and 5kg tub of cement or twenty 120cm x 20cm x 20cm picket beams, an electrical drill and lengthy wooden screws (for the plinth body)
  • Rubble and large stones
  • 10-14 luggage of builder’s sand (20kg every)
  • 125-175kg clay (the most affordable will do – attempt
  • Assorted glass bottles
  • Chimney or plant pot (non-compulsory)
  • Massive bag (14 litres or 6kg) of wooden shavings (from pet outlets)

You’ll additionally want…

  • Wheelbarrow
  • Tape measure
  • Massive heavy-duty plastic or tarpaulin sheet
  • Loads of water
  • Previous kitchen knife
  • Heavy obligation gloves
  • 10 litre builder’s plastic bucket
  • Wellington boots
  • Plenty of newspaper

Important method: puddling

  • Mixing the clay and sand is the toughest, most time- consuming a part of the constructing course of. It’s finest to combine this in batches as and while you want it.
  • For the primary layer (step 3) you’ll want about three buckets of clay to 6 10 litre buckets of sand. The ultimate shell (step 7) will want 4 buckets of clay to eight of sand (1:2 ratio clay:sand).
  • You do the blending (puddling) along with your ft. Tip the sand onto a big plastic tarpaulin sheet, break the clay into thumb-size items and, sporting wellies, tread the 2 along with a little bit water. That is known as puddling. The combination is prepared when a tennis ball-size piece dropped from shoulder peak holds collectively. If it splats, the combo is just too moist; if it cracks, it’s too dry.

Step 1: Make the plinth

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Takes about 4 hours

Step 1a

Step 1b

That is the inspiration of your oven, so it must be strong. You possibly can construct the plinth body out of bricks, breeze blocks or picket sleepers. Clear the bottom and dig a shallow trench 120cm x 120cm sq.. In case you construct the body from bricks, or breeze blocks, use cement. In case you’re utilizing wooden, screw the items collectively. You’re after a strong, sq. field roughly 1m excessive and 120cm sq..

Put a layer of rubble and stones within the centre (1a), then add a layer of sand and glass bottles. These will act as a warmth sink, warming up, then radiating warmth again up by means of the oven. Lastly, high with a layer of clean, strong bricks (1b) to type the oven flooring. Keep in mind that is the floor you’ll cook dinner on, so the bricks want to suit snugly collectively.

Step 2: Make the dome mould

Takes about 1 hour

Make a mound of damp sand to type the clay round. You’ll want about 120kg sand. Centre it on the plinth you’ve already constructed and step by step assemble the dome up like a large sand fort. It must be 80cm in diameter on the backside and 40-45cm excessive. Hold checking on it from above to ensure it’s spherical. When it’s completed, cowl with moist newspaper to cease it drying out whilst you puddle the clay (see picture).

Step 3: The primary oven layer

Takes about 2 hours, plus 4 hours drying

Roll handfuls of the puddled clay/sand combine into 20cm lengthy, 10cm thick sausage shapes, then construct them up in circles across the sand dome, ranging from the bottom (depart the newspaper on), till the dome is totally lined. Work the clay lengths into one another, then clean the surface along with your arms. The layer ought to be about 7-10cm thick. Depart the clay to dry for 4 hours.

Step 4: Reduce the doorway

Takes about 1 hour

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Utilizing a kitchen knife, reduce out the doorway to your oven. It must be sufficiently big to suit a roasting tray by means of it, however sufficiently small to maintain the warmth in – about 30cm large by 20cm excessive. When you’ve reduce the doorway, scoop out the sand inside (you may reuse it). Let the dome dry in a single day. The subsequent morning, mild a small hearth inside to assist dry out the clay additional.

Step 5: Construct the brick opening

Takes 2-3 hours

Construct an arch to suit across the entrance utilizing bricks and extra sand/clay combine as mortar and to create the angle for the arch. Safe the arch to the clay dome with extra clay combine. Subsequent, reduce a gap within the roof of the dome close to the place the arch joins the dome and construct a clay collar to carry the chimney. You should use a plant pot as a chimney, purchase one, or construct up rings of clay to make one (as within the picture).

Step 6: The insulation layer

Takes about 1 hour, plus 2 hours drying

Make 4 litres of slip (a mix of clay and water with the consistency of cream). Stir in 14 litres/6kg wooden shavings till nicely combined. Slap the insulation layer onto the clay dome, then depart to dry for two hours.

Step 7: The ultimate shell

Takes about 2 hours

This is similar as the primary oven layer, simply barely bigger. Combine the clay and sand collectively by puddling. Make sausage-shape bricks and press firmly collectively to cowl the insulation layer till 7-10cm thick throughout. Clean the floor as in step 3. As soon as the completed oven has had an opportunity to dry out for a day or two (per week can be even higher), clear out any remaining sand or particles… And also you’re prepared to fireside it up!

How you can use your pizza oven

Cooking Clearly you want wooden, and correct dried hardwood is finest. “Mild a pile of newspaper and small sticks of sentimental wooden within the entrance beneath the chimney,” says Simon. Slowly construct the hearth by including items of hardwood corresponding to oak then, as soon as it’s going, transfer it in the direction of the again of the oven – not too rapidly, although, or it might exit. “As soon as it’s roaring, add simply sufficient wooden to maintain it ticking over,” says Simon.

Care and safety

When not in use, shield the oven from damp with a nicely secured tarpaulin.

Now you’ve acquired your oven, get cooking! You could find our favorite pizza recipes right here.

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