Nearly everyone loves pizza and making your own oven makes it that bit more special. You can buy an oven for thousands but it’s much more fun to make your own, using materials lying around and with minimal impact on the earth.
Here’s how we made our oven in the garden, all for under £20. We’ve wanted to do this for years and we’re loving it now its finally been made.
Here’s a rough guide for anyone who wants to have a go at doing it yourself. Just to inspire inspiration and imagination
A word on Cob.
Cob is a mixture of sandy-sub soil, clay and straw. It is mixed by crushing it all together; in our case jumping up
and down on it, but it can be done with a digger. Animals in the past were used to mix the Cob hence the name Cob horse. Cob has been used to make houses, barns, walls, etc. some are still standing strong today. We have a Cob barn here at Kent’s which is a beaut of a building. Some of the positives of using Cob are that it’s insulating, and fun and easy to work with, hence why its used for pizza ovens. I’ts also breathable and flexes with heat.
The basic mix is 2 parts sand: 1 part clay: 1/2 straw and water. Mix on a tarp and get dancing.
The Basic Run Down
Base – Made of bricks, breeze blocks, railway sleepers, cob, cob and rocks or anything you can think of really.
We used old tyres stacked on top of each other then put cob in between and on top. In each layer we put old glass bottles, smashed up bricks and other bits of rubbish that we could hide in there. Using glass bottles under the oven floor also helps insulate it further.
Oven Floor – Ideally made from fire bricks but you could use a big slab of rock or normal bricks
We placed some normal bricks on top of the tyres, this was to protect them from the heat of the fire. We put a thick piece of ply wood we had lying around on top of the tyres so that we had a flat base for the bricks. Then we put a layer of sand then the fire bricks. The fire bricks we got from an old fireplace. Ideally you would use new ones so that they fit tighter together but old ones will work. Now the oven is ready for the dome!
The Oven/Dome – Made from Cob (Straw, clay and sand)
Here’s where building sandcastles as a child really payed off. Using sand and water we made a dome as a former or mould for the cob. We then put wet newspaper over the sand, so that we knew when to stop when removing the sand later .
First layer – About 4″ thick, we made up cob balls and had a bit of a cob ball fight and practiced our throwing and catching skills. Building from the bottom up and over the sand castle we made our first layer then left it for a couple of days to dry. Then we cut out the hole for the doorway and removed the sand.
Second and insulation Layer – This layer was much the same but h
ad more straw and some sawdust in the layer for added insulation, its all about keeping that heat in with an oven like this!
Third Layer – This layer was much like the first layer just to further protect and insulate the oven.
Archway Entrance and Chimney – Bricks Cob and Gas flue pipe, you could use an old terracotta plant pot or any other tube like thing that can withstand heat.
We made this part as an afterthought, it’s not essential but makes the oven run smoother and looks great. We had to make an extension to the front using some thick slabs of wood and a couple of fence posts. We then put some more bricks on top using cob below to keep them in place. We made a former here from some plywood, just drawing the size of arch we wanted, then cutting it out with a jigsaw. We used 2 pieces of wood then nailed them together so that the brick archway could rest on top. We placed the ply former in the doorway then started to build the bricks into an arch using the cob to stick them all together. Then we filled in around the archway and linked the doorway to the main oven putting a piece of old gas flue pipe in as a chimney.
For about a week we started small fires in the oven every couple of days and once it was dry we fired it up for the first time.
After about a month we lime rendered the oven to protect it from the Cornish winter. You could make a clay plaster or use old tiles to create a mosaic
Hope this inspires some new Pizza enthusiasts out there. Once we’ve nailed the right dough recipe we’ll put that up to.