I had wanted a bread/pizza oven for years. When we moved into our house in 2009, I decided this was the house where I would be able to make a mud oven in the backyard. I studying for several months leading up to the Spring. I also attended a local class where a women demonstrated exactly how to make the cobs to form the oven. I then purchased a book that gave me detailed instructions. If you intend to make your own mud oven, I highly suggest purchasing this book:
As of this writing, it was about 5 years ago that I completed my oven – so I hope I remember the steps accurately.
Here are the basic steps (over several days) to completing my mud bread/pizza oven:
|1 – I used cinder blocks (purchased from Home Depot) to create the base. I knew I wanted to add a beautiful mosaic over the cinder to cover it. I also made sure to leave the center hollow to allow for wood storage. I then added seasoned-wood planks over the cinder blocks and then one more row of cinder blocks (just around the perimeter). We filled the center in with mud (dug up in my backyard) and glass bottles for insulation. I topped the whole thing with a smooth layer of clay. That’s my mom in the hat in the photo (I had a few awesome people help with this whole process).|
|2 – Next is the row of fire bricks. I had to call around looking for these special fire bricks and finally found them at a brickyard 30 minutes away. They are made to be at the base of firepits or fireplaces and withstand very high heat. The firebricks are the base of the oven on which everything is cooked. I also stacked the fire bricks on either side of the opening to the oven. I made the opening large enough to fit a pizza peel (it was calculated based on the size of the oven).|
|3 – I then formed the dome with wet sand. The size of the dome was calculated based on the the size of the base. The book tells you exactly how to calculate. I then covered the dome with wet newspaper (this helps when you scrape out the sand to know when you have reached the end of the dome). My kids were very eager to help with this entire project. What you see in the photo is a very small portion of the sand dome. There is a photo below that shows the completed sand dome covered in newspaper.|
|4 – We then dug up more clay from our own backyard and followed the mixture recipe from the book. The recipe included clay, sand, water, and straw for the main portion of the oven. We sifted the clay and mixed it with the sand and straw. Mixing the mud was fun for everyone! My kids danced around in it and mixed it with their feet.|
|5 – We made “cobs” with the mud mixture and stacked them around and over the sand dome. This was labor and time-intensive. This step was much like making an igloo with snow blocks. I believe I did 2 rounds of this and it took days of sun to dry and cure after each round. I used a piece of metal (duct) bought from home depot to go over the opening (to make it stable and hold the mud).|
|6 – I then made the finish layer of mud which did not include the straw. It’s meant to be a smooth layer on top of everything. I carefully dug out all the sand from the inside.
This photo is the finished product. The only thing I intend to do is make a small angled roof to cover the oven and protect from rain damage. The oven also periodically cracks – but I just mix some more mud and fix the cracks.
To cook in the oven, you must build the fire and wait for the oven to reach a certain temperature. The fire is pushed to the sides of the oven so you may cook in the middle. If you intend to bake bread – you will need a front door to the oven.