Sunday, December 9, 2018

Brick Ovens Worldwide

2000 year old oven in Pompeii

500 year old oven in France
Here are the stats for one week of visits to this blog:
United States
United Kingdom

I've never been sure how many of these visits are by humans... but over the years I've been contacted by real people from many countries.  As the purpose of this blog, aside from being a running record of my work, has been to inform potential brick oven builders and users in design, methods, and materials for a successful project.

I hope this has been the case.  I was recently contacted by a person who bought a cast refractory oven ten years ago from one of the major suppliers.  The local masons enclosed it in stonework and about a year ago it collapsed.  In my mind, ten years is too short a time for an oven to work before needing replacement (that's expected of a kitchen range).  In addition, the expensive stonework that encloses the oven needs to be taken apart and rebuilt after a new oven (a request for a TBO one is in motion) is installed.
TBO 54" at Pietree Orchard in Maine

Although I humorously say that my ovens are guaranteed for 500 years, it is entirely possible.  The integrity of a brick oven dome built from custom cut fire brick is such that it will withstand time and even abuse, aside from the obvious hazard of being buried for 1800 years under volcanic ash.
One oven I built was so extremely over-fired by the enthusiastic owner that the aluminum handles on the door melted; the oven was fine; I now use iron for door handles.

Professional baker using my portable oven

This oven survived Vesuvius' (in background) eruption in 29AD.  It would likely survive the next.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Brick Oven Grill

hardwood lumber chunks is all it takes
Once you commit to having a brick oven, you may feel that you'll regret not having a grill OR you may find that your gas grill seems odd next to the oven OR you may consider installing a 'complete' outdoor kitchen.
"Hold the Mayo!"

Grilling on or within a brick oven is easy and if designed to purpose can accommodate equal quantities of meats or vegetables.

Because building a fire for brick oven baking begins with creating a bed of hardwood coals (which takes about 20 minutes), that can be the point when you can begin to grill.  The other timeframes for grilling are at the midway point in the oven firing when the firing is close to a broiling environment and lastly using the coals from, let's say, a pizza firing for front-of-the-oven grilling.

Two changes in the design of the standard brick oven are needed in order to grill:

  • The space between the mouth of the oven and the face of the oven needs to be wider.
  • You need a fabricated grill that can be set above the coals or inside the oven mouth.
Once these changes are made, the grill setup can also be altered to make shish kabob, teriyaki, and other grilled foods.

In some instances, I have built a depression under the flue that can hold coals.  This is covered when not in use.

Grill in place
As with all aspects of brick oven cooking, the grilling, baking, broiling, smoking, and dehydrating opportunities are based in your enthusiasm for fire.

Rosemary on coals adds flavor