Bespoke Pizza Ovens
Building a Pizza Oven
A neighbour of mine built a pizza oven in his garden and it seemed like a fun thing to own. I had always wanted to built a bricked dome and I was inspired by Victorian icehouses I had seen at stately homes as a child. Plus, I love pizzas.
I reused reclaimed bricks from a wall I had demolished on a fencing job. This structure was to be my most challenging brickwork task I had encountered. I had built curved walls before but had never attempted arches on a curve, let alone a dome. Also, the oven generates intense heat so I had to ensure the thing was safe.
I had an idea in my head of how it was meant to look so I scribbled down a few sketches and set to work in between jobs, sometimes working in the night.
Every brick had to be cut to fit in with the shape of the oven and tricky formwork was made to build the arches upon. The most challenging part of the structure was the dome itself. I built the formwork using quarter-moon cuts of hardboard, all linked together to resemble segments of a half orange. The inner skin is made of fire bricks, laid with fire clay and cement, and is draped with a ceramic blanket. The outer skin is clad with reclaimed bricks to match the rest of the oven. I found the cast iron door on eBay – it hails from an old bread oven in Poland. As for the chimney, there is a flue liner on the inside that has again been clad with cut wedges of brick.
The first time I lit the fire inside I was amazed how much heat it generated. I only use dry seasoned hardwood as it lasts longer and burns hotter. Once the firewood has turned to embers I rake them to the outside and slide a pizza on a long-handled metal pizza peel. The pizzas cook in under a minute, mozzarella bubbling almost instantaneously. It’s not just the heat from the embers that cook the pizza – the clay bricks in the base of the oven conduct a lot of heat.
Other food can be cooked in the oven. For instance, a tray of vegetables will roast quite happily in a much shorter time than a conventional oven. I have also cooked casseroles in there. Bung meat, vegetables, herbs and wine in, put the lid on, close the fire down and let them cook slowly until the meat is tender and succulent.
I absolutely loved building this structure and the satisfaction I gained from doing so was greater than any other. All those hours of effort laying bricks over the years had enabled me to accomplish something that I was very proud of. For once, the process went swimmingly and without a single hiccup!