Our friend and neighbor Chad at Red Earth Farms recently constructed a beast of a wood fired pizza oven. It’s a massive cob oven, almost three feet in diameter inside, with huge insulation, and believe it or not, built in the greenhouse attached to his home.
What makes this wood-fired oven really unique, I think, it the fact that it’s built in a greenhouse. The oven, based on the classic design documented in Kiko Denzer’s Build Your Own Earth Oven (with modifications, no doubt), has a stack that runs outside to keep the space free from smoke. In effect, the cob oven‘s radiant heat is used to heat the greenhouse, and thus, the house to which it is all attached. Not bad.
A Highly Insulated Wood Fired Pizza Oven
It must be stated that this cob oven is massive. It must be over 4.5′ in diameter. That’s partly because the interior dome dimensions are so large, but also because it has a ton of insulation around it. Chad used some kind of custom perlite mix, several inches thick (not sure exactly how many), to fully insulate the dome, which means that this oven has a very long bake time. It stays warm for a very long time.
Baking Pizzas in the Oven
Chad also claims you could bake pizzas almost indefintely once the dome is up to temperature, and he achieves long pizza bake times by maintaining a live fire to either side of the dome. This, of course, continues to heat the oven, and the hearth too, very importantly. Once the hearth on the opposite side cools down, Chad rakes the fire to the other side, and continues baking on the newly charged hearth. Smart.
This is a fairly unique cob oven for those reasons — it’s huge insulation, and the fact that it’s been constructed in a greenhouse. Chad makes some great pizza (and bread), and often keeps the oven somewhat warm so that the next firing requires less wood, and so that it can be used consistently for various kinds of baking.
Also, you also gotta love the fact that the baker needs to step down into a “pit” to bake. The “pizza pit” is a hole in the greenhouse floor that brings the baker down to the level of the oven so that food can be slid in and out with greater ease.
Chad’s oven gets me thinking about how I would build a cob oven differently when I do it again…