Thursday, March 26, 2009
We've been gone from Italy now for 8 months and I miss the farm, the food and our house.
But I've been filling my time with some little projects and started to build an outdoor woodfired pizza and bread oven so I'll be able to make those thin crust pizzas and Tuscan bread.
It started when I dug a hole in the backyard to root out some invasive bamboo and found in one corner of the yard some pure white clay. That started me thinking about clay tiles....then adobe bricks....then I remembered seeing a book about earth ovens.
So work has begun. Since I couldn't decide on a permanent site and I wanted to build a smaller test oven to see if I really use it, I built a semi portable base using leftover 4X4's, 4X6's and 2X4's. I put it on casters (each rated to 350 lbs.) and built a top of leftover planks and plywood. On top of that went one layer of 12" X 12" Cement pavers. Next a ring of firebrick to enclose a layer of insulation. To keep the hot oven from eventually burning out the base I insulated the top with a mixture of subsoil and clay (the dirt that came out of my yard) that I mixed with water until I had a thick, clay-slip consistency.
I folded in half a bag of perlite (volcanic puffed rock from the building supply store ($14.00) to end up with a 4" thick layer of light insulation. It looks like and behaves like a mineral version of the RIce Krispy treat!
It's still wet but the next step will be to add a layer of dense clay/dirt over the insulation to act as a heat sink over which will go the hearth bricks and the real oven per se. I'll post more photographs as they happen.
No pizza tonight.
NOTE: Much of my information come from the book "Building your own Earth Oven" by Kiko Denzer and Hannah Field. I highly recommend it as it includes a wealth of information on ovens, building (on the cheap) with scavenged or recycled materials, has bread recipes and photos of lots of different ovens big and small for ideas.