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Beneficial Bacteria

  1. Building the Concrete Base for the Oven
  2. Looking Inside the Form
  3. Looking Inside the Form Again
  4. Lots of Rebar
  5. Pouring the Concrete
  6. Concrete is Poured
  7. Building the Shelter
  8. Starting on the Roof
  9. Using Cedar Logs and 1x6 TNG
  10. Insulating Concrete is Poured
  11. Laying First Bricks
  12. Layer Done
  13. Offset of Bricks
  14. Layout Walls
  15. Need a Good Saw
  16. Bricks are Delivered
  17. Mark in Spot
  18. Measure
  19. Level
  20. Inside Wall
  21. Keep Saw Clean
  22. Keep Slide Under Control
  23. Finished Inside Wall
  24. Layout Arch
  25. Lay out the Dome
  26. Detail of the Side Bricks
  27. Centre of Oven Dome
  28. Angled Bricks
  29. Arch Supports
  30. Skin for Arch
  31. Arch Support
  32. 5 Supports
  33. Skin is Tacked On
  34. Butt up Walls for Nice Interior
  35. The Work Place
  36. Skin is in Place
  37. Interior View of Oven
  38. Final Layout on Site for Dome
  39. Cutting Keeper Bricks
  40. End Wall and Keeper Bricks
  41. Keeper Bricks in Place
  42. Perfectly Cut and In Line
  43. Outside of Keeper Bricks
  44. Left Side with Wires
  45. Waiting for Welded Pieces
  46. Frone Plate is Ready
  47. Hood Piece
  48. I-Beams for Sides
  49. Placing the Front
  50. Tight Fit
  51. Hood Installed
  52. Hood is Offset from Centre
  53. I-Beams and Supports
  54. Side of Supports
  55. Close up of Bolts
  56. Other Side of Bolts
  57. I-Beam and Keeper Bricks
  58. Ready for Inner Wall
  59. Half Bricks
  60. Drying Bricks
  61. Completing the Arch
  62. First Layer of Dome Arch Complete
  63. Second Row is Started
  64. Drip Free
  65. Second Layer Started
  66. Wire
  67. Made It
  68. Rendering Layer
  69. Rendered
  70. Brick Oven Inside
  71. Laying out Sole
  72. The Finished Inside of Oven
  73. Final Clean Up
  74. Outside Ready
  75. Back Brackets Installed
  76. Installing TNG
  77. Insulation
  78. Insulation in Layers
  79. Mixer
  80. Perilite Insulation
  81. Insulating Top
  82. Final Shape
  83. Alternate Top View
  84. Layer of Concrete
  85. The Final Act
  86. Chimney
  87. Beautiful Flames
  88. Small Fires to Remove Moisture
  89. Ash Box
  90. Complete Burn
  91. More Fire
  92. Outside
  93. More Outside
  94. Oven in Winter
  95. More Oven in Winter



This project has its roots in the original 'Wood Fired Brick Oven,' which the Kaslo Sourdough Bakery started out with in 1991. The wood fired brick oven I've built, seen here, is similar to the oven I used then. The oven has a number of innovative design features that I worked out to maximize practicality, efficiency, and the joy of baking with it.

  1. The oven sits on a one-piece concrete base, and can be moved if ever the need arises, therefore semi-portable.
  2. The front of the oven is designed and built in steel plate verses bricks. There are several innovate reasons for this.

    1. The front hood is also made out of steel and integrated into the front design allowing the smoke to be directed into the chimney.
    2. The weight of the steel front, hood, chimney and door is vertical down and rests on the steel plate of the front of the oven which rests on the concrete base.
    3. This allows for a hinged stainless steel insulated door, which seals directly to the front steel plate of the oven allowing an airtight seal during the baking cycles.
    4. The ash slot as well as the door's arch support is also integrated into the front steel plate structure of the oven, this satisfies structural engineering points and ease of cleaning of the ashes.
    5. The hood of the oven does not require any side supports, like it would with a brick oven front. Therefore the door can swing all the way out of the way to one side, which allows unhindered access to the oven's interior, appreciated especially when it is close to eight feet to the back of the oven. Remember, to the back of the baking chamber is about eight feet and therefore the ash scraper or the oven peel needs to be approximately 10 feet in total length.
  3. Fresh air is drawn into the oven along the sole of the oven via the door and the ash slot to supply oxygen to feed the fire. Combustion takes place and the fumes (smoke) rise to the roof of the oven and exits via the chimney, this creates a draft ( just like in a wood stove in house) and is proportional to the height of the chimney. The ideal situation is that there is enough draft to ensure a controlled oxygen supply for the fire to burn, the heat from the fire is absorbed into the masonry, and the smoke is completely removed out of the chimney (due to proper hood design), and completely burn so that only minimal ashes need to be removed after the oven's heating cycle.
  4. A damper installed at the top of the hood where the chimney starts allows for micro adjustment of the inner air pressures, if required, which are influenced by external atmospheric pressure differences.
  5. Length, width and height of the baking chamber is also proportional to assure good air circulation as well as maximizing the radiant heat absorption of the fire.
  6. By doubling and tripling the layers of the fire bricks of the bottom, top, and sides, the mass of the oven is substantially increased, which proportionally increases the oven's heat retention, which is utilized for subsequent baking.
  7. Following the above feature, generous insulation likewise allows for the stored heat in the fire bricks to be retained for an extended long time, just like in a well-insulated house.
  8. A steel I-beam harness acting like a corset around the inner fire brick-walls ensures stability of the arch and helps to keep everything in place for the longevity of the oven. Making the oven earthquake proof.
  9. There are three temperature probes built into the sole and three into the vault of the oven, which connect to a digital temperature meter. This way the heating of the bricks can be monitored and the fire on the inside of the oven moved around to achieve the best uniform heat throughout the baking chamber. With experience it also allows you to gauge how much wood will be required to bring the oven up to temperature.

       I took many pictures during the construction of the oven, leaving a trail for anyone that wishes to follow, possibly make more improvements on the oven. This project documents my thoughts and experiences, which allowed me to also set some of the guiding principles I believe in, into stone for others and the next generation of sourdough bakers.

       After construction, I fired the oven many times spanning over several week period; first small fires and slowly increasing it to remove all of the excess moisture in the brick work and the insulation, like a curing or burn-in time.

       In the spring and throughout the summer of 2012, we'll bake in the oven and compare the results to see what and if there is a difference between the more modern stone deck ovens we regularly use in the Kaslo Sourdough Bakery.

       I should point out that the oven we use in our daily operation was engineered precisely for the purpose of emulating the baking characteristics of a wood fired brick oven. We will use the same dough and bake bread in the two different ovens.

       In parting I would like to point out that there is a difference between a wood fired brick oven for bread and one for pizza. A pizza requires baking for a relatively short time and somewhat hotter; therefore sometimes the fire is even left in the oven. The masonry is usually much less in mass compared to a bread oven. You can use a bread oven to bake pizza or cook your turkey in it, but you cannot use a wood fired pizza oven for baking bread, especially if it is sourdough bread. The extended time to bake the bread thoroughly is just not there and you'll get undercooked bread.

       Have fun, whatever you do and plan ahead and gather as much information before you build an oven like this, identify size and intended purpose.

       Good luck!

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