The Dry Stack Brick Oven.
There were 5 attendees at this first historic event and everyone left feeling that they had not only learned a lot but had a very enjoyable day inspite of the on and off rain showers.
A lot of this was due to having an experienced instructor who knew his subject and was able to present it in a easy to understand format as well as field all questions from class.
The day started when instructor Dave S. Cargo (Escargo) started by talking about his experience and background in baking and building ovens as well brick ovens in general and specifically about the type of oven we would be building.
I wasn’t long before Dave begin building the first oven of the day outlining the following steps to a good build.
- Find an appropriate location (fairly level and not too near in structures which could interfere).
- Use sand to complete the leveling of the area chosen.
- Lay down a base using concrete pavers; making sure to keep everything level with the sand base.
- Start the base by laying down the insulating bricks (different than fire brick) and then following with the fire brick to complete the first layer.
- Continue building layers using the patterns suppied by “Escargo” until you complete all but the last layer.
- Use some heavy duty tinfoil to cover the seams between the bricks over the fire chamber and then lay the last layer.
This process took about 1 hour and we had a ready to bake in brick oven which we then proceeded to heat with a wood fire.
While we were waiting for the oven to reach the appropriate temperature, Dave shared some recipes and prepared dough for Naan, Pita Bread, Pizza and a loaf of artisian bread.
After a lunch break it was time for the group to try their hand at building another oven under Dave’s guidence.
With four folk working on the oven and 1 taking photos, it only took 30-40 minutes to complete the 2nd oven.
We probabley were not careful enough about keeping our bricks and seems properly tight and aligned as there were some very noticable leaks when we fired the oven.
Once completed Dave showed the class how easy it would be to convert the oven from a “bread oven” to a “pizza oven”. This took just a couple of minutes.
At about 2:30 we were scheduled to begin baking.
The first was the Naan; a flat bread made with butter and a litte sugar. These baked in less than 2 minutes
The next item was the Pita bread which baked in about the same time and came out of the oven very “poofey” with a very nice pocket opening.
We then baked three pizzas with ingredients provided by Dave and some fresh greens harvested from the garden. And finally the artisian loaf which baked in about 20 minutes and come out with a beautiful rise and color. After tasting all of these; the group all agreed that the quality of the baked goods was exceptional and were amazed by the speed at which they baked.
The last word.
- Stacked brick ovens are pretty simple to construct; are extremely sturdy (Dave demonstrated this by standing and bouncing up and down on the competed oven) and produce excellent quality baked goods.
- They are portable; one can be torn down and moved within a couple of hours or they may be left permanently .
- They’re more affordable than a permanently installed “dome” oven which could run into the thousands of dollars to about $400 for a medium size stack brick oven.