The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Wood oven survey.

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clearlyanidiot's picture

Wood oven survey.

A couple things I've been wondering about other people's wood ovens.

Is there an approximate way to measure a wood oven's efficiency?


1. Roughly how large is your oven.

2. How much wood do you burn per firing.

3. How many loaves do you bake/how much food do you cook per use.

4. How long does it take to reach baking temperature.


tchism's picture

I have a cob oven. I don't know if you're wanting info on this type but here goes.

1. It has a 32" dia. cooking area

2. I burn approx. 25 small sticks (wrist size thickness) dried oak or almond to heat the oven.

3. I can bake 4 to 6 loaves easily depending on size and can do two batches maybe three.

4. It takes 2.5 - 3 hours to saturate the oven about another hour or so to cool to bread baking temps.


clearlyanidiot's picture

If wood and dough go in it, and bread comes out at some point, i'm interested. 


Thanks for specifying wood type, it's an extra handy detail. 

About how much would the wood weigh?

I don't actually have the info I requested, about my own oven, yet. Im still in the testing phase, but it has been taking about 3 hours to get to around 400f mark.

tchism's picture

I'm totally guessing but only about 20 lbs or so. It's real not that much.


MichaelLily's picture

Pompeii oven design (hemisphere)

1. 43" diameter cooking surface

2. I've never counted how much wood I use.  I go through about 3/4 of a cord per calendar year.  Red oak, sometimes birch.

3. 18 small boules at a time (550 g loaves). In any case about 10 kg of dough can fit in at once, regardless of size.  I prefer to do 2 bakes, but can do 3 and I have done 4.  Oven drops about 100 degrees after 3 loads.

4. I like to fire it up for 5 hours the night before and let the coals smolder overnight.  After 9 or 10 hours with the door mostly on, the surface temps are between 550 and 600.


BobSponge's picture


Answers as follows:

1. Size - 44" cooking surface (Forno Bravo Premio 2G)

2. How much wood.  It takes about a Radio Flyer wagon full of Almond wood to fire it until the walls are clear of carbon, for pizza.  Since I maintain a pretty strong fire while cooking pizza, it sometimes takes more during the evening 

3. We normally do Pizza on Saturday night then bake bread on Sunday morning.  I have baked upwards of 16 loaves, but probably could have done more.   Oven is used for the next few days to cook. Sunday afternoon we do chickens, roasts, cakes and cookies (temp is around 350 ).    Monday, normally throw something in that roast all day.   On Thursday, we make yogurt when the floor temp hits around 120 F.  

4. Baking temp.  Can't help here, since we fire for pizza then let the oven cool overnight to baking temp.  Its usually around 550, when I get up on Sunday morning.

MichaelLily's picture

For the OP: masonry ovens perform best when brought up to pizza temperature and then cooled down to bread temperature.

chefrockyrd's picture

This is not in the same league as the previous ovens for sure. But it works. We built a temporary portable dry stack oven that can be dismantled to use until we build a permanent one. Its based on Stu Silverstein's from his book Bread Earth and Fire, after we took an oven building class with him. It has worked out well, its about 28 " deep and about 24 " wide. Mostly I have made pizza in it and bread just a few times.  Usually at the end of pizza making as it cooled down. 

During the first fire we did not burn it long enough or with enough wood, but after that I would say it got up to 850+ degrees in about 2-2 1/2 hours. And that was using a temporary door with vents in the top and bottom. Its hard to say how much wood we used, as we kept feeding it.  

We are still trying to decide what kind to build permanently. There are so many options.

chester52101's picture

Love the survey and answers-Good information!

clearlyanidiot's picture

I really should add my info, seeing as how I started this whole thing.

46" deep 21"wide 10" high baking chamber.

46x21x10 = 9660cubic inches divide by 1728 (inches in a cubic foot)... 5.59 cubic feet of oven space. 

A typical batch on baking day is 8, 700g sandwich loaves, a baker's sheet of croissants, and 2kg of french bread or the like.

Over 3 hours I'd burn 13 to 14 kg of wood. to get it up to 550f, but after that it would stay around 300f for 6 or so hours.

I'm planning a rebuild with half the thickness of firebrick, which will cut down the amount of heat retention, but also hopefully cut down on the quantity of fuel used to get it hot.