Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The True Cost of Brick Ovens

Here are three factors in calculating the true cost of a brick oven.
#1 Does it work.  Seems like a no-brainer that having/buying an oven that doesn't perform jumps the cost of having an oven that does work.  Tearing down a non-functioning oven is almost as expensive as building one.  Then you have to replace it.

Factors that must work are: the draft of the chimney and the heating curve and retention of the oven mass.  Without these two factors performing well, if not perfectly, the fun and beauty of the experience will be lost.  Adequate mass combined with sufficient insulation makes the brick oven an efficient device.

Cob oven w/o chimney vented with massive hood
#2 How long will it last.  Brick ovens in the past were built to last until the present.  They didn't have built-in obsolescence.  Sprung arches in ovens that are contained by steel will fail when the steel fatigues.  Ovens should be all masonry.  No brick oven owner should have to replace it in their lifetime.  Cob ovens, inexpensive to build, need to be repaired or replaced periodically.

#3 Convenient use decreases apparent cost.  A snowmobile in Alaska is a constant tool.  Brick ovens should be sited so that they get used, if not daily, weekly.  If the oven is associated with a space that is a major living space (outdoors, adjacent to the kitchen, or in the the kitchen) it will be used frequently. 
If it is a  portable oven (as for caterers and cooks on-the-go) it will be used in many places.
Thinking out of the box about community brick ovens would include a traveling oven that could serve multiple communities by relocating on a rotating schedule.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Stone Turtle Baking

Michael and Sandy Jubinsky run baking and cooking classes at Stone Turtle Baking and Cooking School in Lyman, Maine (stoneturtlebaking.com).  They were one of the featured 'Chefs' at the .Northern New England Home and Garden Show http://www.homegardenflowershow.com/meet-the-chefs/  along with me and other.

We had a great time (and weather) for the event, baking French batards in my oven and learning about the correct way to make great bread. 

Thanks to Michael and Sandy and I always enjoy their precise and humorous way of teaching.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Still Life with Brick Oven

On Tuesday of this week, the 54" diameter brick oven will be fired to temperature for the first time.
This is always a celebration: Fire meets Stone.

This photo is the last almost photo of the project with the longer title of:
Still Life with Brick Oven, Orange, and Mortar Buckets

Vistors to Pietree Orchards will see it in action over the summer fall and early winter and we don't expect the oven to cool down until the bakery shuts down in December.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Brick Oven Warming Ovens

The Pietree Orchard brick oven was designed to accommodate two warming ovens. These take advantage of the minimal amount of heat transferred through the chimney masonry to proof bread.

It is anticipated that the warming ovens will be about 60 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the ambient air temperature outside. 
These spaces are also convenient to the baking space of the large oven, 

They are lined with honed Irish limestone.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Northern New England Home and Garden Show

Next weekend, May 17 and 18, I will be a featured 'chef' at the Northern New England Home and Garden Show .
On Friday, I will demonstrate the use of my portable brick oven for roasting vegetables.

There will be ongoing demonstrations using my brick oven all weekend but the highlight will be on Saturday when Michael Jubinsky of Stone Turtle Baking School brings his baking expertise to the event.

1:30 – 2:15 Stone Turtle Baking & True Brick Ovens

207-459-2567 (cell)
Dish: Classic French Bread prepared in an outdoor brick oven
stoneFor somewhere pretty close to 45 years, Michael Jubinsky has taught various aspects of baking, specializing in yeast breads. He was Senior Spokesman for the King Arthur Flour Company based in Norwich, Vermont for over 25 years, and filmed two bread baking videos for King Arthur Flour, on Sweet Holiday Bread and Artisan Bread. While working for King Arthur Flour he also made numerous radio and television appearances and was featured in articles in Modern Maturity Magazine, Smithsonian Magazine and USA Today. Phew!
In October 2011 Dessert Professional magazine selected Michael as one of the Top Ten Bread Bakers in America!
Michael has been a Culinary Arts instructor in the Connecticut vocational school system, was a licensed retail baker and a staff instructor for the Connecticut Culinary Institute. He has been a guest instructor at the Silo, in New Milford, Connecticut and at Sur La Table in Virginia. Michael and Sandy and Annice Estes founded of Mystic Cooking School in Mystic, CT. Michael was also an instructor for the National Restaurant Association and taught Food Safety (ServSafe) in Maine and Connecticut.
In 1993, Michael’s wife, Sandy Jubinsky, the distaff part of this powerhouse cooking team, graduated from the post-graduate Culinary Arts program at Ella T. Grasso Southeastern Regional Vocational-Technical School, where she attended classes with the general high school population. She received the “Chef’s Award” for guts, stamina and a wicked good sense of humor. Sandy was the manager of the bakeshop at Mystic Seaport Museum in Mystic, Connecticut and also worked as a Pastry Chef at Lulu’s Steakhouse in Niantic, Connecticut. Sandy was also certified as a professional “Food Taster” – for both Pfizer and Cultor Industries in their respective food technology programs.
stone turtle-mike jab's head shotMichael and Sandy wrote features and a monthly food column for “The Day” newspaper in New London, CT for over 20 years and also did restaurant reviews for 5 years.
In 2000, after retirement as Director of Submarine Safety for the US Navy at the Electric Boat Shipyard in Groton, CT, Michael and Sandy, and their bulldog, Emily, moved to Lyman, Maine. Michael continued his engineering career for a number of years as a consultant with both the Navy and NASA, but his real love remained baking. In thinking that “Do what you love and love what you do” was a perfect way to look at life, Michael finally retired again and, with Sandy, started on a new path.
Since moving to Maine, Michael has worked with the baking team at Borealis Breads in Wells, Maine, has been a guest instructor with York County Community College and has offered baking classes in his home. In 2006 the doors of the Stone Turtle Baking and Cooking School opened. Michael and Sandy have had the good fortune to teach hands-on baking in a beautiful and welcoming facility set in what they think of as a piece of paradise – Maine. This state-of-the-art facility, located on 20 acres of paradise in southwest Maine, offers a broad range of hands-on cooking and baking classes.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Facing the Brick Oven

Once the base and core of the brick oven is built, it is up to the builder/designer how the face looks.  In the ovens I've built this is all over the map.

The current brick oven at Pietree Orchard is surrounded by a foot thick stone wall.  But finally we are ready to build the face.  This will be constructed primarily of reclaimed cobblestones from Maine cities and towns where these stones were the streets for more than 150 years.  Unlike cobblestones bought at your local masonry supply or garden center, these cobblestones are of ALL sizes and shapes.

Some years ago, I visited an island off the coast of Maine and found an abandoned quarry.  Stones ranging from huge (3' x 5' x 30') to small (4" square) were left behind when the last whistle on the last shift blew.

Piles of cobblestones seemed to be banged out of stone that didn't meet the standards for monument grade granite or from stone already small.  I imagine groups of workers sitting around hammering the edges of these rectangles.

In addition to the stones that will face the arch, field stone has been used to support the base on the sides and a long piece of split stone was levered into place for the lintel over the wood box beneath.

Some modern and ancient methods were use to maneuver

the stone into place and it will support the hearth front and shelf.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Brick Oven Operator's Manual

Over the years, following building an oven for people, I have offered a short course on using the new oven.  I have also talked about wood-fired brick oven use.  Now, anyone can read and re-read a simple operation manual that I offer as a downloadable PDF. 

This can be found on my website homepage: truebrickovens.com as a clickable button.  This does not mean that I will cease showing people how to fire up and use brick ovens.  It simply gives you and them a resource when I am not available.

The PDF is full of photos too.

Enjoy it. Comment on it. And share it.