Brick oven in Amish land
I became inspired about 6 or 7 months ago to think about building a brick oven. Over the last winter and summer I have become enchanted with bread so this seemed the next logical step to me to better my bread. After reading Alan Scotts book I ventured online for some more information about the building process. I ended up finding Rado from the other side of the world to lend me a hand. After receiving the 1000 photos of him building an oven, I felt pretty confident. Granted I've never mixed/poured anything close to concrete, or laid brick/built arches, or even seen a brick oven in person but with the help of my friends I knew it would be fun. So I started the project back in May beginning with the slab, 31 bags of concrete by hand. Moved on to the concrete blocks and hearth slab with 3 inches of vermiculite/portland/lime mix on the bottom for insulation and a total thickness of 6.5 inches. Using a sand/fireclay mixture we put the hearth down and stacked the side walls. After building forms around it we poured concrete around the outside and started the arches. I just finished up the arches on Saturday and I'm pretty excited to actually have something that looks like an oven. I'm planning to pour the cladding this week and start the insulation layers next week. Hopefully I can have this fired up within 2 weeks!
Congratulations on a very neat, tidy job. I'm another of those bread guys, from Ontario, and you'll find pics of my oven here. Can't stress enough that you have to let your oven cure and cure and cure before firing begins.
Ed, we need more pictures! It is all about the process here.
How goes progress
I just ordered Rado's CD and a bunch of books on the subject, but I've not settled on the final design. I'm keen to hear about your progress.
There are many postings on this site that compare the round Italian oven and the rectangular oven from The Breadbuilders/Rado. The differences between the ovens are much bigger than you might imagine, so I would recommend looking around this forum to learn more. Hey, I'm the guy who has built multiple Scott ovens and multiple Italian pizza ovens. Unless you are planning on running a wonderful commercial microbakery, like CannuckJim, you should not consider the barrel vault oven for backyard cooking.
Let us know how it goes.
I would agree that unless you plan to start a bakery and make, for the most part, bread you are probably better not going with a barrel dome. It does take quite a while to heat up, hence more wood use. Once it's to temp it hold heat for quite a while. It will be much better once I get the insulation and bricks around the outside, I would hope. Yesterday I did 40 lbs of whole wheat bread in two bakings pretty easily. I am still learning but enjoying every minute of it. I've attached a few more pictures of in progress stuff.
Nice work, and good looking bread! I can see the oven spring in those loaves, burst the seams of your slashes. Very nice.
How did you finish the upper enclosure? Is that the concrete cladding over the dome, or is it insulating concrete?
Keep us in the loop and forward more photos when you start to tackle the enclosure and trim.
Yes, unfortunately the seams split on most of the loaves I made yesterday. Still trying to learn how to get the oven and bread ready at the same time.
For the concrete over top, I used a mixture of concrete, portland, and lime. The next oven I build I plan to use the refractory type of concrete. For a first time building I wanted to be cost effective and just see if I could even pull it off :) Over top of the concrete, I did put a thin (maybe 3" at this point) layer of insulation concrete. I plan to about double this thickness eventually. I did a mix of vermiculite, portland and lime, 13:2:1 I believe. I also had this insulation on the sides at one point, but it has since fallen off. I wasn't able to get the bricks in time to salvage it with all the heating and cooling. Will be a good springtime project though learning how to lay brick. ;)
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