I am interested to hear from anyone that has (and uses) a Brick Oven for bread and pizza baking. I'm especially interested in learning more about sources, installation, costs, pros, cons.
There are several good resources and groups out there.
Check out Forno Bravo for traditional dome ovens - they sell them and have free plans to build your own and they have a very active forum. I haven't built one, yet, but there is a tremendous amount of info from the active group of people very dedicated to their ovens and very willing to share their knowledge and help a new project along.
Traditional Oven - by Rado Hand has plans for a barrel vault style oven. and then there is the Alan Scott style barrel vault oven.
General thinking is dome is a pizza oven that is also capable of baking a round or two of bread (several loaves at a time depending on size), heats up quicker (less fuel needed) but of course cools more quickly
Barrel Vault ovens have more thermal mass, take more heat to get up to temp but retain heat longer for multiple batches of hearth bread baking.
If you are doing full scale baker bread baking, the larger mass is important. If you are baking a dozen or so (or less) loaves on the weekend, the Pompeii or similar dome would work well.
I have A Forno Bravo Pizza Oven and my daughter has a handmade beautiful brick & stone pizza oven outdoor kitchen....you can go to any extreme...both can give excellent same results! So far we use them mostly for making pizza's and roasting/baking! Whatever you decide on Im sure you'll be very happy with your oven!! A lot of people will tell you they know how to build a pizza oven!! If you contract people to build your oven...make sure you do your research and oversee every aspect of it....or you could end up with a flue on the inside of your oven and plaster between your fire bricks! But most of all you and your family/friends will have a ball!! Go all out and build the best your budget can afford...would be my advice!
Seems to be the preferred oven for bread and pizza and is described at length in the Yahoo Brick oven group. Another resource is the Bread Builders book which covers the subject in detail. This link http://heatkit.com/html/bakeoven.htm will take you to a number of brick oven sites. Wood fired ovens are very interesting, the masonry in the top and bottom hold the heat for hours and can be fired up to 900 f (pizza in three minutes) it truly brings a new dimension to your baking. And finally, my favorite site for wood fired ovens and a great resource... http://brickoventampa.com/ Check out the world oven map which is linked to Brickoven Tampa
Wutan Finder Of The Path
a less expensive alternative is the earth oven. there are a few books out there but kiko denzer's "how to build an earth oven" is probably the most popular and comprehensive. a bit vague at some critical points, but doable.
i built mine for less than $200, and its fine for pizzas and bread. i've cooked up to 12 loaves in two shifts in it, in addition to pizzas, roasted veggies, etc. you can see some pics of it and the products here:
whatever you do, good luck!
On Peter Reinhart's blog the other day, he mentioned that he had just purchased the Primivera Oven from Forno Bravo. Of course, living in New England, he hasn't had a chance to try it out yet.
We built ours pretty much from the plans available from Alan Scott and described in "The Bread Builders" which he co-wrote. Originally, we thought we'd use it a lot for pizza, but it turns out other things so wonderfully that we use it mostly for general baking, from the Thanksgiving bird, to killer pulled pork, to roasted veggies, to our weekly dose of sourdough bread. The Scott ovens are pretty heavy masonry construction (around 7" thick), so they take a bit longer to heat (= more wood), but hold the heat longer for things like that pulled pork. (For a typical fireing, I use a little more wood than it takes to fill one of those plastic milk crates -- more if it's really cold outside. That gets the oven surface temps up to 900° or so, and around 450-500° after "soaking".)
For example, we usually put the pork in after dinner & desert has been cooked and the oven has cooled to under 400°. Twelve to fourteen hours later, the oven is still around 250° with no additional fuel. A "kit" oven is generally a terra cota shell that is relatively thin. That means faster heating (= less wood), but also faster cooling. This is not a concern for pizza and other meals that are cooked with the fire going. Bread and other baked items are better done in a "falling oven", with the fire raked out and the oven cleaned, so thin-walled ovens don't perform as well since, lacking the mass of a Scott oven, they don't hold their temps as well. Another advantage of the Scott-style oven is that you can use the retained heat to coke the wood for your next load which makes for a much more efficient burn, using less (but much drier) wood.
An earth oven is also a good alternative -- they are cheap and effective. This was not a good choice for me, however, since our oven is built in to our porch outside the kitchen door and needed to pass building inspection. If you plan to put yours in your yard, away from your house, you could definately consider one of these.
A search at Amazon will get your 5 or 6 books on the topic. I recommend the Alan Scot book for brick ovens and the Kiko Denzer book for earth ovens. There are pics of mine posted about six months ago in the photo section of this forum that you may be able to find. If you want, you can shoot me an e-mail for more info.
I built a barrel vault this summer with info that I mainly got from the Forno Bravo site. Lots of great info. I consider my oven a bit of a 'hybrid' as it's a barrell vault with dome oven thickness and lots of insulation. Its approximately 30" wide & 32" deep, so its on the smaller side and I can get the oven 'white' (1000*+-) in a little over an hour and the floor will still be around 350* the next day if I put the door on when I'm done cooking pizza's. I used 2" of an ceramic insulation board under my hearth, 3" of ceramic blanket on the vault with an additional inch or 2 of vermicrete (vermiculite & concrete) on top of that. At a dome temp of 1000*, the top of my oven is the same temp as the ambient air. I can comfortably load about 6 - 500g loaves or 2 dozen buns at a time. ClimbHi - I'm about an hour outside of Pgh - GO STEELERS! I've only had one issue firing my oven in the winter, and the winds changed on me and were blowing directly in the door. I ended up baking in my house oven that day.
This company is made up of scoundrels. They are simply incapable of behaving like professionals. I bought a very expensive oven from them, and they delayed, delayed, delayed in sending me what I bought. Getting what I paid for was like pulling teeth. Eventually, they said I was out of warranty and told me my only other option was to buy a new oven. Incorrect. My only other option is to expose this company for the swindlers they are. Plenty of reputable companies sell these ovens. Buy from a company you can trust. Buy from Forno Bravo, and all you'll get is headaches. You'll never see your oven.