This is your ultimate family craft project – perfect for a spring weekend (or two)! Build your own pizza oven! I was lucky enough to join a workshop making a pizza oven with Edwards and Eve Cob Building last summer, and took a few notes. So this is a rough outline of what to do – if you want a bit more hand-holding then sign up for a day with them here. They were amazing and really good fun. There are plenty of online references to building cob ovens and you’ll notice they all have varying quantities of materials so my guess is this can hardly go wrong! (Famous last words….). With many hands this took about 5 hours to do (not including building the foundation).
What I really loved about this was the earthy, hands on requirements from people of all ages. And there was very little exact science required so the children could help out all the way through. In the spirit of this I don’t have exact quantities (much like my cooking) just bung in approximately and enjoy the process. I’ve split this blog into two because it was so big – so sign up to the MrsBabymule blog by submitting your email here and you’ll receive an email alert when part 2 gets posted
When we get round to buying a house of our own here in British Columbia I’m going to make my oven into a big black bear. In Manchester an urban fox was much more appropriate. You will need:
A brick or concrete base for your oven.
At least 9 fire bricks
About half a ton of gravelly sand
200kg fire clay
A wheelbarrowful of straw
Tarpaulin 5 x 5 m
A shovel or two
Wellington boots or really keen bare feet
Hands that like to get dirty or kitchen gloves
Lots of friends/helpers
Step 1: Build a foundation
Preferably this should be at waist height so you can easily get your pizzas in and out. You could use an existing barbecue base or build a cute little plinth of bricks and stone. Make sure you have a 1m square base. (see the brick base in the picture above as an example).
Step 2: The oven floor
Use your fire bricks in the area of the base where your pizzas will be cooked. Have these set prior to building the oven.
Step 3: Mix your cob
Lay out a large tarpaulin and fill it with gravelly sand from a builders merchant. You should have about enough to fill a bathtub. The gravel should be approx 10mm across. Add clay so you have 75% sand and 25% clay (some people have more clay to sand). You’ll need plenty of feet in wellies for the cob making. I was so busy stomping on the cob I didn’t manage to get a picture but the process was simple. Get your troops to stomp over the mixture, periodically rolling it over using the tarp to hoist and roll, until it is amalgamated. You may have to do this in a few batches so it’s easier to handle (or footle?).
Step 4: Split your cob
Take half the cob and mix it with an armful or two of straw. This will be your outer, insulating layer. Mix this up with the same stomping, rolling action and leave it to one side for step 8.
Step 5: Build the sand dome
Build a perfectly round dome of sand, smoothed over with a wet trowel. This will be the inside space of your oven. Start the dome from the outer edge and work in, building up as you go. Measure the exact height of the dome (you’ll need this for step 7).
Take a break!
You’ve done really well so far, and conquered the hardest parts. Have a nice cup of tea.
Come back next week for the second instalment – sign up using the form above or the link to the right of the main blog page to make sure you don’t miss it.