I know the first thing that probably comes to mind when you hear the term wood-fired brick oven is PIZZA! But these ovens are good for so much more than just pizza. One benefit is that by moving the cooking/baking outdoors, especially in the summer, they help keep your home from overheating.
Anything you can make in your regular oven or on the grill, you can make just as well or even better in a traditional brick wood-fired oven; from Italian-style focaccia to roasted vegetables to steaks or hearty stews. It can all be made in your wood-fired brick oven without heating up your house.
While many start with a simple Neapolitan Pizza, it doesn’t take long until you find yourself expanding into a wide range of incredibly delectable pastries like galettes, calzones, and bread with a crust that you would never achieve in a regular oven. You can even make yogurt in the cooling oven!
To learn more about cooking/baking with a wood-fired oven check out this four-part series from The Wood Fired Oven Chef.
There is a science to building a properly performing DIY outdoor pizza oven. First and foremost, when building a DIY pizza oven, the oven depth, height, width and chimney placement must be precise for proper air-flow. Second, the use of high-temperature refractory materials that are designed to withstand temperatures in excess of 1,200 degrees is required. Following these two simple rules will ensure the homemade pizza oven’s performance and longevity.
Kit or complete DIY?
Your skills, time and budget are all factors in determining if you want to contract out the building of your oven, assemble a brick oven kit, or if you wish to build entirely from scratch.
Best plans for building your oven
While there are many DIY plans out there some are a bit incomplete. One of the best plans available is the free “Pompeii” oven plans online from Forno Bravo. Forno Bravo will sell you a kit or parts, but if you’re the enterprising sort, you’ll be able to build your own oven using just their online plans. They offer lots of advice and pictures so you can follow along every step of the way. And they have one of the largest forums devoted to cook/baking in brick ovens.
Their plans cover how to build an adequate foundation as the ovens are quite heavy and you don’t want an oven that can get up to 1200 degrees collapsing on you!
They also cover the importance of insulating your dome so that it retains heat. A step that is missing from many other plans. Without the ability to retain heat, you will be disappointed in your oven and it will never be able to do everything it would otherwise be capable of.
Great for off-grid!
From a preparedness perspective, the ability to have an inexpensive, off-grid way to cook in emergencies, is terrific and could be a lifesaver. We are always looking for a cost effective way to be self-reliant.
Finally, this is a cooking technique that needs to be practiced to get it right and someone who makes the oven and then doesn’t use it, will not be prepared to use it during times of power outages. A backyard brick oven is a viable alternative for off-grid cooking that anyone can build, so get busy and enjoy the fruits of your labors!
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