A cob oven is an oven which cooks from retained heat (fueled by small kindling) and is made from a mixture of local mud, and straw! The foundation is composed of local, recycled, & salvaged materials.
“This style of cooking is indigenous to many cultures all over the world and still used by many cultures today. Being that these ovens are made with clay; they ‘breathe’….creating the most delicious, crispy outside….moist inside, kind of food you can taste! From 3 minute pizzas, to Thanksgiving Turkeys…the Earth Oven can cook anything your conventional oven will….just better!!!” Michael Pollan
When cooking in a clay oven, water from the clay is released in the form of steam. Have you ever baked bread in your conventional oven and created steam with a pan of water? The steam creates a nice, golden, crispy outside…..and a delicious, moist inside….whether we’re cooking breads, roasts, pies, etc. And you know those pizza stones people use in their conventional ovens? Well guess what, the oven hearth IS a pizza stone!
The oven cooks with three heating methods: convection, conduction, and radiant heat, thus, cooking your food quicker and more thoroughly! Not to mention the unbeatable taste of food cooked by a wood-fired oven!!!
The oven cooks by retained heat. Lite a fire using small pieces of dry, hard wood. (Find a connection with a local wood shop to use their waste products for fuel!) Once lit, the fire should be stoked and fed, and little by little pushed to the back of the oven.
It takes approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour to get the oven up to proper cooking temperature. The fire can remain burning in the back while pizzas are cooked directly on the heated brick hearth. A thin crust pizza will cook in only 3 minutes!
As a bonus the oven remains hot for the next 10+ hours. The options are endless for what you can cook! Start with pizzas, then as the temperature slowly drops, throw in a roast, bake a few loaves of bread, then some shrimp….. as it cools even more, try a home made granola, or slow-cook some beans over night!
When you’ve completed your cooking, fill the oven with wood, close the door, and let the wood ‘kiln dry’ for your next firing!
As you observe your oven you might see some cracks. This is because when hot, the oven will expand, and as it cools, it will contract. You will see some cracking over time, this is normal. Simply pick a ‘maintenance day’ once a year and patch the cracks with more clay; Root Down Design Firm can show you how or come and do it for you.
When designing your oven, there is a consideration. Because the oven is made from a clay mixture, it must remain covered with a small roof or covering. It can stand up to minimal rainfall and spray, but direct rainfall over time would eventually break the oven down.