We have gotten a lot done on the cob oven and I figure it is about time for me to share some pictures and get caught up on what we have done. The base of our cob oven is built around cinder blocks and this base of bottles makes up part of the insulation layer that goes on top of the cinder blocks and under the oven itself. The pink string was used to make sure that none of the bottles were too high so that we could get things pretty level.It got late, but we put a layer of insulative mud over the bottles to create a flat surface where we could start building the oven itself.
With a solid, level base, we placed the fire bricks to make the bottom of the oven. We also built a brick archway because we expect to get a lot of use out of this oven and the bricks will stand up much better than a cob opening.
To build the arch, we cut a couple of pieces of wood to balance the bricks while we got them in place. We jammed rocks between the bricks to produce the arch shape.We completed the arch! And you may have noticed that we cut the bottom off of our frame. We decided that we would be unable to get the frame out if we didn’t leave some gaps and make it easy to get out.
I couldn’t believe that it actually worked, but when we removed the frame, the bricks didn’t collapse. We put the frames back in before we put the grout in the cracks. We have had some movement in this thing with the heating and cooling, but so far it is still upright.
We grouted the archway bricks and made an oven. The oven is surprisingly easy to build. You make a large piles of moist sand and then you cover it with about 3-4 inches of mud (clay, sand and water). There is a little bit of technique involved, but as long as you always press down on the clay and not down into the sand, it works pretty well. Then you take the sand out of the door and let the oven dry. Firing helps it dry.
So we fired the oven. And a great thing about firing the oven is that it gets hot inside. And when the oven is hot inside, you can cook with it.
Pizza from the oven is AMAZING. We actually had homemade dough with toppings exclusively from the garden. Even the cheese was homemade. It was by far the best pizza I have ever had in my life… And I have had some good pizza.
I don’t think that I’ve gotten the photos yet, but we have since put an insulation layer on the outside of the clay. We put it on way too wet and were afraid that the moisture was going to soak into the clay and cause a collapse. So we built a fire to dry it out… and to cook more stuff. Here is a photo of what we made the other day. While it may take longer to heat than a conventional oven, it cooks better and faster than a conventional oven.We still need to add some cob over the insulation layer and then some protective coating and a roof before we are done, but we had to take a break from cobbing to harvest the fields. It may not be the most convenient, but this is the way to live!