I love cooking bread, trying to get as close as I can to the kind of bread I had in France. I use the poolish technic, prepare a mix of yeast water sugar and flour, and leave it for 12 hours, then add the rest of the ingredient and start the recipe. Then I cook the bread in some heavy pan with the lead on, in a cold oven, then start the oven to the maximum temperature of 500°F and leave it for 45min. I had good result with this method.
I was thinking building a bread oven since a long time. And everything started when I helped move friends. They had a lot of cinderblocks and rebar, they had to get rid of. I took what I needed and decided to start the project. I am not in the hurry with this one. I know the concrete need weeks to cure properly.
I went crazy and start to poor the slab.
For the slab which is 54x54x8 I use 24,5 x 60lbs bags of concrete, which is 1470lbs (666 Kg) of concrete.
Then I let it cure for a week, spraying water once in a while.
After it cured I started by laying the cinderblock, dry fit. I throw some pieces of rocks and old broken concrete pieces into the cinderblock follow by more concrete. I put rebar also. I welded the rebar together to make it stronger. and put 11 x 80lbs bags of concrete who went into the cinderblock all the way around (400Kg of concrete).
Next will be the hearth (easier to write than to say with my French accent!). 3,5” of concrete and an other 3.5” of vermiculite mix with Portland cement. I realized I should have make everything bigger in case of a hurricane we will have a shelter! That thing is not going anywhere it is already 2350lbs of concrete (1,06 Ton), Marcus told me: “This thing look like a bunker!..”
I build the wood frame to poor the hearth. I still want to have a bevel on the front, I need to figure out how to do that, but I put more rebar welded together. it’s looking good and everything is level for now.
I will probably need 9 x 80 lbs bags of concrete for the hearth, then some Portland cement and vermiculite. Then it will be the fun part of laying the refractory bricks.
26 Ocotbre 2014
Here it is, I pour the concrete , and this will support the hearth, I also change my plan, I was going for the igloo shape, but after a lot of reflection, I decided to go with the barrel shape and arch. I guess it will be much easier to built and I will not have to cut every single bricks. I still have to find some cheap vermiculite, right now I only find the one for the big bucks store, and it is like $20 for 2 CuFt and since I need at least 4 bags to complete the hearth I better try to find a cheaper place.
The hearth was poured, I had to buy the vermiculite from HD, it was easier and cheaper than ordered online, the shipping cost was a bit insane. The proportion to mix vermiculite and Portland cement (vermicrete) are 7 to 1, one part of cement for 7 part of vermiculite. Choose a non windy day, vermiculite is really light and will be blown by the wind. I did a 3” thick layer of this mix.
I found on Ebay a 2” thick ceramic fiber board and blanket, the price was reasonable, and since I couldn’t find it locally. So far I will have 5” of insulation under the refractory bricks.
The ceramic fiber board was installed, with aluminum foil all around to avoid having the board sucking water from the heat stop mortar.
I bought the bricks from CEMEX, the full size bricks are 9 x 4 x 2 1/4. As today I bought 250 bricks and 3 bags of heat stop mortar. It was fun to build the vault roof and the entrée arch.
I shouldn’t have start the roof that day because I had to leave for work and when I took of the inside mold the next day, I ended up with a lot of dry concrete on the inside vault, I couldn’t clean it! I know why I should use a perforated pegboard, to let the concrete run thru those holes… Now I have to let it cure for a while, I put some big towel and spray water on it then put a tarp. I also spray mist the inside of the oven!
Here you can see the entrée arch finish, I still have to work on the chimney and figure out what to do, I couldn’t find any 4” round clay flue around here, and one of the store told me those small one can be pricey on special order! Well I might go with the stainless steel style flue liner or maybe if I can just do it with bricks but I am a bit concern with the weight on top of the arch. I still need to think about which solution will be best.
If everything go smoothly I should receive the ceramic fiber blanket this week, I will then put the 3” layer of vermicrete on top of it, let it cure for at least a week. And I will be able to start the curing process by starting a really small fire in the oven, then making the fire bigger and bigger everyday. It should take a week for the curing process, so let’s say in 3 weeks I will probably cook my first meal in this oven, it is getting really exciting!
I saw the construction of a huge bread oven on the internet, the oven was build over an existing fire place (big fire place), in the back of the fireplace they installed water pipe, so they can heat the water. When they add the oven they continue to run water pipe all around the vault! I thought it could be a great way to heat my pool! I thought if the water entering is cold, it will bring the temperature of the oven down to quickly. Maybe I will do it and put a valve to let the water go thru the oven or not, and we’ll see how that work. Also if I do it I think the best place will be in the vermicrete layer on top.
Oven is complete! yeehaaa…
I receive the ceramic fiber blanket, followed by chicken wire and a mix of vermicrete. The oven is operational, the only thing left is to make it pretty, and yes I still have a little work on the chimney. I ordered a Duratech anchor plate and I will also add a Duratech pipe and cap, I thought a 3 Ft will be good.
Here you can see the blanket, I add aluminum foil so the blanket will not suck the water from the vermicrete.
First little fire.
A more serious fire., You can see a little crack on the left of the entrance arch.
First pizza in, I have to say, it tasted just amazing!…
Today I started to work on the door oven, I cut some metal and start welding stuff together, still a long way to go. I will also have to made some useful tool for the oven. I also build a brick wall on the back of the oven to support the roof structure, I am thinking of doing the same wall on the front of the oven and put cement board on both side.
July 2015: A little update
This is still a work in progress, summer get hot here in South Florida, and I also have different project I am doing in parallel, I have my truck, and I am also building the deck to access this oven. So little by little, I can use the oven and this is the most important.
Here is a roasted lamb leg I did the other day in the oven, I didn’t put the dish directly on the floor, I use a grill and 2 bricks. But the result was delicious…
As you can see I started to build my bar next to it.
February 7 2016:
The weather was nice enough to let me work on the oven this winter. I did a lot progress and the oven is almost finished, still some detail.
I first put another layer of vermicrete.
Then I wanted a little more space on the front to land the pizza and big pan,
so I decided to extend a little bit with the same arch design.
Then I put a layer of stucco.
After the concrete was cured it was time to make the front pretty with some tile
Then a coat of primer.
Some cooking hehe!
I still have some detail like put more stone on the side etc..
And finally got the SS cheminey
And how it look now.
I am now working on the bar, I already poor the coutertop, still have to do the bar overhang and put stucco, then I will paint and finished the deck, This is a long process, and between the Ford F100 restoration and the other projects I have, I am glad I am 98% done with the oven. I cooked some pulled pork, and it turn out just amazing, so moist and juicy, I never had that kind of meat before, it is just heaven. I am actually cooking two right now for maybe 14 guests, I will try to take pictures ..
June 9 2016:
Finally, I finished the deck, I was even able to put a coat of stain, on it and made a lot of progress on the bar too.
The sink is not hook up yet, I still have to dig and run the pipe to the closest water tap.
I also run an electrical conduit and put a double electrical box, so I might have outlet for light or food processor or even light etc.. But same I have to run the wire and pipe. I also have to get one of those grinder and special pad to make the concrete smooth.