The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

kiko denzer

OldWoodenSpoon's picture

I have been quiet on TFL, mostly, for several months, posting a comment in a thread only rarely, and not taking/making/having time to post any of my baking.  Life has been good, but very busy, and so has work.  Good, and very, very busy.  What time I've had free I've not wanted to spend in this same chair, and at the same computer, where I make my living all day (and night too, sometimes), but I have still found some time to bake.  Not a lot of time, especially last spring and summer, but some.  I can proudly say, however, that no "store bread" has come into this house in two years.  :)  I'm not going to recap  it, or even describe it, but this collage of selections from the last  6 months or so fills in some of the gaps.

There was more, but the evidence all disappeared.

In addition to some baking, one of the things that has soaked up much of my free time has been the completion of my wood fired oven (Denzer style), which has reached a successful near-end milestone.  I have the oven completed, and everything left to do is for looks.  Well, looks and protection.  After the bad outcome from my 2010 effort, which you can see in my blog posts here I put it under wraps for the winter, and took up the project again this summer after things dried out.  I finally was able to get it successfully completed, except for the final finishing strokes, earlier this October.  Here is another collage that tells an abbreviated version of that saga too.

 I've been able to bake in it three or four times so far, and the first fire and first bake are both at the bottom right of the collage.  Based on my limited experience at it so far I know it is going to be a challenge to get to where I can reliabely and predictably produce quality bakes from it.  Heat management and timing are everything, as those with much more experience than I will confirm.  I am hoping that it will not get so wet around the oven this winter that I cannot get to it to bake.  I really hate to think of having to leave it wrapped again all winter when it is so nearly completed, and fully capable of sustained baking.  

I am really looking forward to a little more personal time this fall and winter, and hope to be able to post some of the lessons I expect to learn about managing a Denzer-style oven.  There is much more information available on this topic for an Alan Scott oven, but even then there is not an overabundance.  I'll at least be able to share my mistakes in hope of saving others from making them!

It feels good to be coming back, and I look forward to sharing with you all.  Until then, thanks for stopping by.

boule's picture

I am about halfway with my earth oven being built from Kiko Denzer's book. I also have the Alan Scott book, but decided on an earth oven as the reuse of material appeals to me. Many friends are highly sceptical about building with clay.

It took quite a while to scrounge for the material as I wanted to buy as little as possible. The rocks for the foundation I found in the garden and then I filled it with building rubble from a nearby restaurant that burnt down (hope that does not predict disaster with the oven). The gravel I found on an open lot where someone dumped it. The wine bottles are all from our own consumption over quite a while :).

Carting rubble and live load

Every little bit of compaction helps

The hearth should be on a nice level once finished as the oven is being built on a terrace.

Chief designer

First insulation

The sawdust I had to buy in the end and it cost about $4. The bag it came in was almost as expensive.

I realised that the front part needed some work and then happened upon some nice flat rocks. The next photo shows an improvement where the tongue will be.

Heat retaining slab under hearth

I am now ready to bring the level up with a sawdust and clay mix around the slab. That will be followed with a thin layer of sand bedding for the fire bricks.

I finished the first layer all by myself and that was not a good idea. Some friends would have made it easier, but I was in a hurry and nobody was available on that sunny day. After two weeks of sitting underneath the sheet in pouring rain, I started a small fire. As you can see the clay was still quite moist. I wanted to see if the fire would burn before finishing with an insulation layer and the rest.

Finished first layer

The fire burnt very nicely and started to dry out the clay.

I let it burn for quite a while. The next day the oven looked dry, except for the bottom part where it was still moist. So I started another fire and made it nice and big. Oh, the horror: it cracked! I suppose that is what you get for being impatient.


The crack then spread over the dome. I am hoping that it is not too serious, since it does not seem to have cracked right through. That means I cannot see through the cracks.

I am planning to patch it up with some sloppy clay, but I would appreciate any tips here.

BTW, we cooked a chicken in the oven four hours after the fire died down. It went in for 2 1/2 hours and was beautifully soft. Because it was so late in the process, I had to brown the chicken in the electric oven.

Now it is August and the process took much longer than anticipated. At least I think it is finished and I cannot wait for it to dry out.


So I added a chimney and a brick arch. If I had to do it again, I am sure the arch would be better.


Some time later a friend helped me to add the insulation layer of clay slip and wood shavings. Here it is almost finished.

Jubba the Hut

The past weekend I finished the oven. Guess who did not read the book again and forgot to chop the straw. Now I have a hairy oven. Unfortunately we are away this weekend, so I cannot try it out. Hopefully there is no rain the weekend after that, so I can fire it up proper and see what happens. Will post some pictures if it works out.

pumpkinpapa's picture

Earth ovens and breads

April 24, 2007 - 2:58pm -- pumpkinpapa

I found this on another list and thought there may be some here who would be interested to know that Kiko Denzer and Hannah Field are on tour promoting their simple designs for earth oven building and naturally leavened breads. The schedule is as follows:

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