Purpose of this blog

This blog will really be a true web log. I will post here about different wood-fired ovens as I find them.

If you know of any wood-fired ovens I should know about, you can send an e-mail to me. (If you build wood-fired ovens, I would like to hear from you too.)

There will lots of posts and lots of labels, since I plan to create one post for every appropriate web site that I find, and however many labels it takes to describe each one (usually at least the type of page and the location of the oven).

The accumulated information will still be found at the real Quest for Ovens web site links pages, but that is not updated as frequently as this blog will be.

If you are from outside the US and Canada, let me know what you find interesting about it. I see that I get visitors from India and Iran, and other faraway places. I'd like to know what draws you to this blog.

I received e-mail from the organizers of the BBC Two television show asking if the Saint Paul Bread Club could post a notice about their show Great British Bake-Off for amateur bakers. The information they gave me is now accessible through a link. (The organizers don't have a web page for the show itself yet.)

Please share this with any amateur bakers in Great Britain you may know, or post the link where they might see it.


Portable Oven Class Contents

I teach this class because I got hooked on pizza and bread baked in wood-fired ovens.

You should take this class if you want to learn how to build a wood-fired oven easier and faster than anybody else can teach you. If you too love pizza and bread baked in a wood-fired oven, you won't find any other class that puts as much into a single day as this class.

I recently created a page to describe the features, advantages, and disadvantages of my oven designs. This goes into more detail about why my oven design might be right for your wood-fired oven needs (or helps you judge why not).

My current class schedule is here.

Here is the brief description of the class.

Build and Bake in a Portable Brick Oven
Join David S. Cargo to learn how to build a portable stacked-brick oven. After the oven is built, it will be fired up while students learn how to make dough for flatbreads, pizza, and bread. Bake all these in the brick oven and then eat them.
You will leave with knowledge in baking and building and also plans for three different sizes of ovens.
Class runs 9am-5pm with a 1-hour break starting a noon for students to have lunch. (Some venues may require a shorter schedule with class ending at 4pm.)

The longer description of the class is more interesting.

These portable brick ovens are portable in the sense that they can be moved once they have been built. That's because they are built from stacked bricks that are not mortared together. If you need to move the oven, you can just move the bricks and restack them to rebuild the oven at its new location.

You can build a small oven by yourself in about an hour. You can go from bare ground to cooking pizza in about 4 hours.

Class discussion covers some of the differences between these portable brick ovens and more familiar designs such as Alan Scott ovens, Forno Bravo Pompeii ovens, and cob ovens such as those made popular by Kiko Denzer.

The class covers siting the oven, preparing the ground for the oven, and then the practical techniques for construction. Every student gets a handout with plans for three different sizes of ovens, their corresponding bills of materials, and recipes for use with the oven.

In the class we build two ovens. The first one is built to demonstrate the techniques and how to read the diagrams that show how the ovens go together. After it's built, it's fired for three to four hours to get it up to baking temperature.

The second oven is built, torn down, and rebuilt by different teams of students so that they can practice the construction techniques.

While the fire is heating the first oven up, David demonstrates how to make the dough for pizza, for naan, and for pita bread.

Later in the afternoon, the doughs are formed into the proper shapes for baking, and some dough is formed for a loaf of bread.

Finally, the pita bread, naan, and pizzas are baked (and eaten) and then the loaf of bread goes into the oven.

(The demonstration part of the class includes material similar to the demonstration classes that I teach called Bread Without Fear, Feast of Flatbreads, and No-Knead Breads.)

Here is a report on the first oven-building class at the French Hill Folk School.

Students who have taken the class and completed evaluations have said how much they enjoyed the class. They learned to appreciate the advantages and disadvantages of stacked-brick ovens compared to more well-known cob, Alan Scott, and Pompeii oven designs. People who had been intimidated by the other construction techniques expressed amazement at how quick and easy it is to build a portable oven.

This is an image from the Sept. 11, 2010 class at Silverwood Park. I stand on the finished oven to show how strong it is.