Building a Traditional Wood Fired Clay Oven

Mark Anslow | Thursday, 1st September 2011
Simon Brookes' how-to eBook is a fantastic guide to this age-old method of cooking outdoors
Author: Simon Brookes
Publisher: Simon Brookes
Publication year: 2010
RRP: £2.99

There's no doubt that the eBook revolution has lowered the barriers to getting published. And that's a good thing - traditional publishing is expensive, time-consuming, heavily tied to advertising and very resource intensive.

The downside, of course, is that the vast majority of eBooks available across the internet never see the equivalent of a commissioner's eye nor an editor's pen, and can turn out to be little more than poorly written vanity projects.

So to my mind, it's a cause for real celebration when you stumble across someone offering their own, well-written, tightly-focussed eBook on a fascinating topic for a very competitive price. This is the case with Simon Brookes' offering: Building a Traditional Wood Fired Clay Oven.

Simon can only be described an a clay oven enthusiast; he runs a blog at clayoven.wordpress.com on the subject, which explains in tender detail how he nursed (and occasionally neglected) his oven through a UK winter, and even sports a fan page where clay oven users across the world send in pictures of their creation.

But you needn't be scared off by the expertise demonstrated by the blog; the eBook is a from-the-top, beginners guide to building a clay oven from scratch, suitable for anyone from the eminent DIY-er to the simple pizza-lover.

In the eBook, Simon starts off by describing the materials you will need, and then setting out how you build the foundations of the oven. No - this doesn't mean excavating your garden and bringing in fork-lift-loads of hardcore - it's simply necessary to build a sturdy base for the oven to sit on.

He describes in detail the crucial process of mixing clay and sand to the right consistency to create the oven dome (in a process known as 'puddling), building the brick opening arch, making the chimney and forming the insulating layer.

Last, but by no means least, he describes how to fire the oven, and even throws in a recipe for 'the best pizza ever'!

If you, like me, are keen to take your outdoor cooking expertise beyond turn sweetcorn on the barbeque, this is a great - and fun - place to start.