Following my review of Your Brick Oven, I thought I’d write a little on my plans for building an oven once we get to France.
The in-laws have already asked me to build a big clay oven in the courtyard of their group gite (holiday home), but I’ll put the idea of the brick oven to them instead on the grounds of its longevity. Clay ovens are best suited to communities with lots of clay, not many bricks and enough skills across the generations to maintain and patch them up year after year. While building with clay is a wonderful (but knackering) process a well built brick oven could last decades rather than years.
There are plans to renovate another of the empty buildings as a sort-of restaurant dining room where big groups can cook and eat together, so that feels like a sensible site for the oven. Though it will be built outside, I’d like an oven door to be accessible from inside the building for baking during the winter. While my previous clay oven worked well enough at Christmas time in the rain, it wasn’t so much fun running in and out the house with the dough.
I’m picturing using the oven in a couple of scenarios.
Firstly, I want a big oven that’s suitable for cooking dinner for a group of twenty or more guests at any one time – good enough for a small restaurant or a big dinner party. This would take a lot of wood to heat up so you once it’s lit you use the heat for cooking a whole load of meals for the week ahead. Basically spending a whole day cooking food and using the changing temperatures of the oven as it slowly cools, like they did in the old days. Pizza, bread, roasts, cakes, drying herbs etc.
I’d also like the option of baking bread during the week without using all the fuel needed to soak (that’s wood oven lingo) the big party sized oven. So I’m thinking of building a double oven. One big and one small right next to each other.