Author Topic: Building a Traditional Clay Oven  (Read 44909 times)

Offline DeltaEchoVictor

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Re: Building a Traditional Clay Oven
« Reply #30 on: October 19, 2009, 03:51:52 AM »
Cool oven & post. +1

Man, those mussels look good.  (actually, it all looks good) ;)

Offline Synaptoman

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Re: Building a Traditional Clay Oven
« Reply #31 on: October 19, 2009, 04:48:06 AM »
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Looks like something out of an exclusive restaurant in Beverly Hills...

Thank you for that.  I also thought that readers may be interested in the food costing of the meal.

Garlic Bread
Oak Smoked Mussels
Oak Smoked Snoek Fish
Potato and Mushroom Bake
Baked Bread
Bottle of Red Wine

Total cost : R102  (US$13)

The meal fed 4 with plenty left over.

In a SHTF situation everything in this meal we could also have cultivated/caught/made/scavenged within 2 miles of my home with the exception of the wine, but I am now learning to make mead as a substitute. 

Who says survivalist food needs to be boring.

I think that next weekend I am going to try another similar meal but this time with nothing bought, only what I can forage for.






Offline LvsChant

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Re: Building a Traditional Clay Oven
« Reply #32 on: October 19, 2009, 09:48:48 AM »
very cool little loaf pans... I need some!

Offline Synaptoman

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Re: Building a Traditional Clay Oven
« Reply #33 on: October 19, 2009, 10:50:05 AM »
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very cool little loaf pans... I need some!

They were given to me by a bakery.  They don't use them anymore and these are almost new.

Offline Synaptoman

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Re: Building a Traditional Clay Oven
« Reply #34 on: October 19, 2009, 01:27:04 PM »
Built a waterproof cover for the oven today out of plastic greenhouse film.  Will post pics tomorrow.

Offline archer

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Re: Building a Traditional Clay Oven
« Reply #35 on: October 20, 2009, 04:35:56 PM »
Excellent project Synaptoman!!! +1 to you. How did the bottom of the pizzas turn out?

Offline Roswell

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Re: Building a Traditional Clay Oven
« Reply #36 on: October 20, 2009, 06:59:32 PM »
good question Archer, I was wondering that too.


Synaptoman, has anyone ever told you that you look exactly like Tony Hawk? LOL

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Re: Building a Traditional Clay Oven
« Reply #37 on: October 20, 2009, 08:28:43 PM »
This is a very cool project.  Congratulations!

Could you give us (maybe repeat, but I couldn't find it) the dimensions of the door, versus the door frame?  Seems like that would be important, if all the door is providing all the draft.  How big are the openings above and below the door?

Offline Synaptoman

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Re: Building a Traditional Clay Oven
« Reply #38 on: October 21, 2009, 01:05:51 AM »
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How did the bottom of the pizzas turn out?

They were fine.  When we made the first batch they were a little bit "sandy" as the clay/sand oven floor was still new.  But after a few fires and the sand/ash being swept out well after use, they are perfect.  If you mean, "were they burnt underneath?", the answer is funnily enough, no not at all, just nice and brown.

Offline Synaptoman

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Re: Building a Traditional Clay Oven
« Reply #39 on: October 21, 2009, 01:07:43 AM »
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Synaptoman, has anyone ever told you that you look exactly like Tony Hawk? LOL

No, but I was compared to Michael Schumaker on another forum  ;D

Offline Synaptoman

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Re: Building a Traditional Clay Oven
« Reply #40 on: October 21, 2009, 01:59:08 AM »
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Could you give us (maybe repeat, but I couldn't find it) the dimensions of the door, versus the door frame?  Seems like that would be important, if all the door is providing all the draft.  How big are the openings above and below the door?

I have two doors, the traditional solid hardwood door made out of driftwood that I found on the beach and my "smoking" door.

The interesting thing about this design is that the height is extremely important but the width can be as wide or as narrow as you like.  I decided on the width based on the largest roasting pan that I would be using.  The height of the door frame is 12 inches and the inside height of the dome is 19 inches giving us the magical 63% required.  Any changes after this can only be done on the sides so as not to interfere with these ratios.

When I came to fitting my door I was faced with a problem.  Because it is just loose fitting (ie. not hinged) there has to be something holding it in place.  What I eventually did was to plaster the sides of the doorframe with about an inch of clay sand mix, and then while it was wet carefully pushed the door in creating a lip, which now looks like this;



which now holds the door itself snugly in position like this;



Hope this answers your question.

Offline Synaptoman

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Re: Building a Traditional Clay Oven
« Reply #41 on: October 21, 2009, 02:12:42 AM »
Yesterday I put together a waterproof cover for the oven.  Although it stands outside it doesn't really withstand excessive moisture and I assume that it would just revert to mud if it got really wet, despite being well fired.  I cut a piece of plastic greenhouse film to size and clipped it down with braces made of 2 inch PVC pipes and greenhouse storm clips.  Images below;




Offline archer

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Re: Building a Traditional Clay Oven
« Reply #42 on: October 21, 2009, 06:48:40 AM »
They were fine.  When we made the first batch they were a little bit "sandy" as the clay/sand oven floor was still new.  But after a few fires and the sand/ash being swept out well after use, they are perfect.  If you mean, "were they burnt underneath?", the answer is funnily enough, no not at all, just nice and brown.
Ahh thanks for the info Synaptoman. We use our gas BBQ to fire our pizzas and the first few times the bottoms were burned. The normal oven does not get hot enough to get the crust done properly. Excellent project!

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Re: Building a Traditional Clay Oven
« Reply #43 on: October 21, 2009, 07:09:29 AM »
In a SHTF situation everything in this meal we could also have cultivated/caught/made/scavenged within 2 miles of my home with the exception of the wine, but I am now learning to make mead as a substitute. 

if you can find/grow any fruit you an get juice from you can make a very good wine.  i've made wine from frozen concentrate grape juice before.  my blueberry wine has a very good following locally.

Joel

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Re: Building a Traditional Clay Oven
« Reply #44 on: October 21, 2009, 08:36:47 AM »
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I have two doors, the traditional solid hardwood door made out of driftwood that I found on the beach and my "smoking" door.

The interesting thing about this design is that the height is extremely important but the width can be as wide or as narrow as you like.  I decided on the width based on the largest roasting pan that I would be using.  The height of the door frame is 12 inches and the inside height of the dome is 19 inches giving us the magical 63% required.  Any changes after this can only be done on the sides so as not to interfere with these ratios.

Thanks, but that wasn't what I was asking.  Your oven apparently breathes through the door, having no chimney, so there must be openings above and below the door where it fits in the doorway - unless I'm just not understanding.  But the pictures make it look like the door fits snug on all sides.  How did you arrange for the openings, and what are their proportions?

Offline Synaptoman

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Re: Building a Traditional Clay Oven
« Reply #45 on: October 21, 2009, 11:26:44 AM »
OK, I understand your question now.  The door is off while the fire is burning and vents through the top of the door opening and even when it is down to coals when you are doing pizzas.  You are correct, it fits snugly.  When the fire is completely out (ie. burned right down to ash) the door is fitted and bread is baked and meat is roasted.  No venting is required because at this stage there is no smoke and the objective is to retain the heat in the oven.  the 6 inch clay walls have retained a serious amount of heat and this is slowly absorbed by the food over a long period of time.  The oven is still warm after 8 hours !!!.

For smoking, I designed a door with 2 inch apertures top and bottom.  (bottom to suck in air and top to vent smoke)  The middle section is just to retain some heat. 

If you are still not clear, I'd be glad to take some more photos.

Offline Roknrandy

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Re: Building a Traditional Clay Oven
« Reply #46 on: October 21, 2009, 11:43:36 AM »
Synaptoman  that is a slick oven you have!!  +1

Any additional photos would greatly appreciated


Offline Synaptoman

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Re: Building a Traditional Clay Oven
« Reply #47 on: October 21, 2009, 11:57:51 AM »
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Synaptoman  that is a slick oven you have!!  +1

Any additional photos would greatly appreciated

Thank you.  I will post more photos soon.  There is also an eBook in the pipeline of the build which I will gladly send free to members of TSP.

Offline HelenWheels

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Re: Building a Traditional Clay Oven
« Reply #48 on: October 21, 2009, 12:14:34 PM »
Thank you.  I will post more photos soon.  There is also an eBook in the pipeline of the build which I will gladly send free to members of TSP.

I'd like to have a copy please!

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Re: Building a Traditional Clay Oven
« Reply #49 on: October 21, 2009, 01:47:16 PM »
The door is off while the fire is burning and vents through the top of the door opening and even when it is down to coals when you are doing pizzas.  You are correct, it fits snugly.  When the fire is completely out (ie. burned right down to ash) the door is fitted and bread is baked and meat is roasted.  No venting is required because at this stage there is no smoke and the objective is to retain the heat in the oven.  the 6 inch clay walls have retained a serious amount of heat and this is slowly absorbed by the food over a long period of time.  The oven is still warm after 8 hours !!!.

Oh!  Okay, I misunderstood completely.  So the fire is only to heat up the oven, and cooking doesn't happen until you allow the fire to burn out.  That would also explain how you keep ashes out of the food.   Clearly there's more to this than I knew.

I'm building my own cabin in the desert, have been thinking about what I want on the deck and in the yard, and your thread has me thinking maybe an oven would be a good match.  Certainly I've got enough clay and sand.  But there are techniques to using the thing as well as to building it, it seems.  Very interesting.  Thank you!

Offline Synaptoman

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Re: Building a Traditional Clay Oven
« Reply #50 on: November 04, 2009, 08:51:45 AM »
I thought I'd try roasting in the clay oven last night. 

The meat - a 5lb free-range chicken. 
The method - the good 'ol beer can griller method.

This is what the stand looks like.



The idea is to drink half the beer (absolutely no problem) and then fill it up with your secret chicken marinade.  In my case I use olive oil, lemon juice and white wine.
The can gets popped onto the stand, like so;



I stuffed the chicken with the remaining lemon peels and some rosemary and then the basted chicken (olive oil and chicken spice) gets popped over the can, like so;



I then built a fire on either side of the oven and when the flames had gone out (and the outer surface of the clay was super hot) I popped the chiciken into the middle of the oven, closed the door and roasted for 2 hours (Oh, and had quite a few "cold ones")

Then I opened the door and built up the fire again on either side of the chicken to give it a slight "grill"  This is how it looked at this stage.



When the fire died down again to coals, I spinkled some oak chips on the coals to give a smoky flavor and sealed the door one last time for about 30 minutes while we got the rest of the meal ready.

By the time we carved the chicken it literally fell off the bones it was so tender and juicy and it got a big thumbs up from our guests.

Offline Roswell

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Re: Building a Traditional Clay Oven
« Reply #51 on: November 04, 2009, 09:26:29 AM »
Your updates in this thread always make me soooooooo hungry!  So far you have used your oven for baking, roasting and smoking! freaking awesome! +1 big time!  i am sure you could grill too with a small stand set up inside the grill same thing with toasting.  Every time you do something new on this it makes me want to build one even more.  Please send me a copy of that PDF if you finish it.  Also, you should talk to Jack about including it the PDF packet at the Members Support Brigade. It would bring you traffic to your other projects, plus you already mentioned giving it to TSPers. Plus Jack may throw you some cash or at least a plug and maybe a free MSB membership


BTW, are the bricks you used regular bricks or fireplace bricks? i know those are heat treated, a little expensive and harder to find.  Just wondering if they have to be firebricks.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fire_brick
« Last Edit: November 04, 2009, 09:29:45 AM by Roswell »

Offline Synaptoman

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Re: Building a Traditional Clay Oven
« Reply #52 on: November 04, 2009, 09:41:13 AM »
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BTW, are the bricks you used regular bricks or fireplace bricks? i know those are heat treated, a little expensive and harder to find.  Just wondering if they have to be firebricks.

Ideally, the base should be made with fire bricks but when I got a price on them (8 times more expensive than normal bricks) I soon changed my mind.  So far all is fine and one can only feel a little warmth under the timber base even when it's kiln-hot inside.  Long-term?  Who knows?

I am going to wait until I've tried a few more recipes before doing the eBook.  The first half will be the design and the build and the second half will be recipes that I have actually tried, so there is some work still needed.

Offline Roswell

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Re: Building a Traditional Clay Oven
« Reply #53 on: November 04, 2009, 10:03:05 AM »
Ideally, the base should be made with fire bricks but when I got a price on them (8 times more expensive than normal bricks) I soon changed my mind.  So far all is fine and one can only feel a little warmth under the timber base even when it's kiln-hot inside.  Long-term?  Who knows?

I am going to wait until I've tried a few more recipes before doing the eBook.  The first half will be the design and the build and the second half will be recipes that I have actually tried, so there is some work still needed.

Yeah, that was why I was wondering. I can get regular bricks free, but those firebricks I'd have to buy and they are a bit expensive as you mentioned. It seems they should be ok since it seems you are covering them with clay too, but I am not sure.  maybe Firetoad would know, he's a firefighter after all. I guess just be on the lookout for cracks.

how did that primer on the wood you mentioned work? Can it really do 1200 C?

Offline Synaptoman

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Re: Building a Traditional Clay Oven
« Reply #54 on: November 04, 2009, 10:45:18 AM »
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how did that primer on the wood you mentioned work? Can it really do 1200 C?

I assume it's working because the whole timber frame hasn't burst into flames yet, but one thing I can say, "It's not waterproof !!"  It got a bit of rain on it just after a appiled it to the decking and it went a milky color.  I probably wouldn't bother in future.  A decent hardwood timber base, an inch of sand, a layer of bricks and a slurry of clay/sand mix must surely be enough.

Offline Roswell

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Re: Building a Traditional Clay Oven
« Reply #55 on: November 04, 2009, 10:50:02 AM »
I assume it's working because the whole timber frame hasn't burst into flames yet, but one thing I can say, "It's not waterproof !!"  It got a bit of rain on it just after a appiled it to the decking and it went a milky color.  I probably wouldn't bother in future.  A decent hardwood timber base, an inch of sand, a layer of bricks and a slurry of clay/sand mix must surely be enough.

hmmm, I wonder if there are any water sealants that also are somewhat fire resistant?  or if one could put the water sealant on and then the fire sealant.  However, as you mentioned the fire sealant may not be necessary. The water sealant though might be a good idea, as long as it doesn't make it more flammable.

Offline HelenWheels

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Re: Building a Traditional Clay Oven
« Reply #56 on: November 04, 2009, 10:56:54 AM »
+1 Synaptoman!

Your project has made me want to get a place in the country and out of the apartment if for no other reason than I want an oven like this!!

Can't wait for the instructional PDF

Offline Synaptoman

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Re: Building a Traditional Clay Oven
« Reply #57 on: November 05, 2009, 11:50:25 PM »
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Can't wait for the instructional PDF

It's almost finished.  Jack or the moderators will have to decide how best to make it available for download by TSP members who want it.  I'll probably offer it for sale from my web site early next week.  I'm just busy with the second part of the manual which is the recipe section.

Offline nikki1843

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Re: Building a Traditional Clay Oven
« Reply #58 on: November 06, 2009, 06:08:47 AM »
Great job!!! I have thought of doing something like this...thanks for the info.

Offline Synaptoman

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Re: Building a Traditional Clay Oven
« Reply #59 on: November 07, 2009, 09:56:01 AM »
I am yet to find anything that can't be cooked in the trusty clay oven.

Today it was the turn of a (as we call it in South Africa)  "Potjie" or cast iron pot, like this;



I decided on something relatively quick and easy, a Seafood Gumbo!!.  Here is the raw ingredient, a mixed seafood medley.



Other ingredients included chopped tomatoes, potatoes, apple, onions and coconut milk.

The cooking time was about 1/3 of what it would take over a normal fire as it gets heat from both the coals under the pot and the heat all around it in the oven.



And here is the end result.



And plated on rice.



This will be one of the featured recipes in the soon-to-be-completed, eBook.

Anything else anyone would like me to try ?