things i love: Wood-Fired Ovens

Wood-Fired Oven

Ha! You thought it would be another film or TV show post, right? Well, you’re in for a treat, at least I hope.

But first I want to make note of a few other things i love posts from around the web. Check out Chelsea’s many things she loves and why post on the Jenny Mac book blog.

What’s so interesting about wood-fired ovens (or brick ovens as some call them)?  If you’re a fantasy writer this is something you should at least have a vague idea about. And those of you leaning toward current dystopian may find it interesting as well.

So, how did I gain an interest in wood-fired ovens? I’m a bit of a survivalist. I like to know how I could function if the world suddenly came to a halt. One of the questions I had was how could you cook things if you had no electricity?

Yes, fire is an obvious option. But I happen to like things like cookies, bread, and pizza. You can use a grill or other gas-powered device—at least until the fuel runs out. There are solar ovens as an option and not a bad one, but the amounts are smallish and impossible when the sun is lacking. After finding out using solar power to power a conventional oven is laughable, I began to wonder this:

So how did they cook things before technology came along? And is it feasible in a modern world setting?

The answer is wood-fired ovens.

These fabulous things are how people did it old school—and some are still doing it old school today. You can build one yourself or pay for one built ranging from $1500+ USD, though expect to pay around $3000 for a good one. If you do it yourself it can be done for less than $1000. But once it’s built it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Unfortunately I don’t own a house, but you can rest assured in the future someday when I have one this will be one of my first projects.

What does it take to build one of these babies? Bricks and mortar essentially. Watch this video to see one way to get it built. This video also helped to pique my interest.

Most blogs I visited say it takes two hours typically to heat this thing up, then once the fire is out it’s a falling oven, which means you’ll have to either research or fiddle with the times for cooking things. You can always leave a smaller fire going inside to maintain a constant temperature. I remember reading one guy said he was able to get 7 or so pizzas done before the temperature fell too far.

These would be built into a home in the old days which would have been a nice way to heat a home. But they can also be built outside. Ideally I’d like to have both.

Apparently when your oven is still hot but too cool to cook things you throw in your future firewood and let the heat dry the wood out. Dry wood means a smokeless fire. (And then your neighbors won’t be tempted to call the fire department.)

How does this help my writing?

Later on in the world of Shade I’ve got an artisan bread maker, so knowing about this stuff is extremely helpful to me. But Shade didn’t draw my initial interest in wood-fired ovens. My survivalist curiosity did.

Remember my post about getting curious? My curiosity led me to answers I needed for my stories in the future. And wood-fired ovens led my curiosity to other questions, like where did they get bread yeast before packets? (I’m only going to say one way is grapes. Go ahead and get curious.)

I’ve also learned a little about masonry, which gives me that added texture for stories, should I need it–especially as a fantasy writer. All those details won’t come out in a story, not should they, but they’ll help make the story that much more authentic.

Plus it may inspire me when writing short stories. Just stuffing myself full as Mr. Bradbury suggested. I again encourage you to continue stuffing yourself.

Did I pique your interest about wood-fired ovens? Are you a survivalist? Have you had to do any unique research for any of your stories? Did you learn anything new today? Let me know below.

And if you want to join in on the things i love blog posting, write a post and tag it by either pinging back to this post, tag it things i love on WordPress tags or #thingsilove on Twitter so we can find it and read it. I try to mention any posts I come across in future things i love posts, so please join up.

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12 thoughts on “things i love: Wood-Fired Ovens

  1. If you have one of these, you’ll never eat any other pizza again! Lol! I got spoiled when I lived in Colorado..there was a place, and the name escapes me, that baked their pizzas in one of these and I would never eat pizza anywhere else, it was that good!

    • We’ve got one, a bit pricy, but their pizzas are pretty amazing and their wood-fired oven is lined on the outside with copper pennies. Gives it a really cool look. There’s another place I know of that if I lived closer I would certainly visit a lot more often. Yeah, I could live off pizza if the world ended. No prob.

  2. I remember my research on both stoves and ovens I did for Mystic Cooking, and there’s a lot of interesting stuff out there. This was a great post that reminded me of all I read up on when Heidi and I first started writing together, and it makes me look forward to reading Shade even more. 🙂

    • I’ve been tempted to pull it out of cold storage early, but I know I need it to get just a little colder. That and I need to work on some short stories for now. I’ll certainly send a first chapter your way when it’s editing time.

      So is Mystic Cooking in cold storage? Editing?

      Yeah, when I was writing this post I wondered what you guys had come across with Mystic Cooking. Thinking back on the conference… poor NYC. I’m certainly glad Backspace wasn’t this month…

      • Mystic Cooking isn’t really in cold storage per say. More like it’s lightly simmering on the stove. At least with it sitting in cold storage long enough you’ll be even more excited to work on it when the time has come.

        Yeah, NYC really took a beating. I do really hope that they at least have a mild winter this year so they can continue to recover.

  3. So when can I expect a tasty treat made by Jae from a wood oven? That’s how they cook pizza in Italy. I’ve had some great brick oven pizza, but for some reason deep dish seems to call my name.

    It’s the little details that always make or break a story. You always seem to have a good grasp on that. You’ll be signing copies of SHADE in a bookstore before you know it.

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