The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

New "Kitchen Gadget"

ClimbHi's picture

New "Kitchen Gadget"

Here's a pic of our latest toy -- a wood-fired oven ala Alan Scott. It makes wonderful bread and pizza as well as other tasty things. For example, after the bread is done, the oven is just right for loading up with a large pork butt or two. 12-14 hrs. later, perfect pulled pork to put on those fresh sandwich buns!

I'm new to this forum and I'm finding lots of useful information on breadmaking. All but what kind of mixer to buy, that is. Based on what I've read here, it'll be either a new KA or a Bosch. (It seems that no matter what I choose, 50% will be sure I made the wrong choice!) ;-)

Pittsburgh, PA


Wood-Fired Oven

Wood-fired Oven 2Wood-fired, Pizza


staff of life's picture
staff of life

That looks fantastic!  How much can you bake at once?  And if I may ask, how much did it set you back?


ClimbHi's picture

Thanks. We've really been having fun with it & we fire it up almost every weekend. The oven floor is about 2'X3' -- sorta small, but it's what would fit in the space. How much fits in depends on what you're cooking. Some things, like bread, are cooked after the fire is swept out of the oven, so you can use the whole space. Other things, like pizza, are cooked with the fire going, so you can only use about 2/3 of the floor (two decent sized pizzas).

We built this ourselves, and used a lot of recycled brick, copper, etc., so it wasn't all that expensive -- a couple grand tops, not including the chimney. We splurged there and went with stainless steel, so the stack was about $1,500 alone.


Susan's picture

er, Hot! Wish I had one!  Welcome to TFL. 

Susan from San Diego

ClimbHi's picture

When fully fired, this thing gets up to around 1000°. (Perfect for a 90-second pizza.) After I fire pizza, I have to rake out the fire and let it cool down for about an hour until the walls get down to 550-600° before I can put bread in.

Thanks for the "welcome". This is a very cool forum.


weavershouse's picture

I'd love to have one too. Just beautiful. What part of the house did you build it in?


Welcome to TFL                                                                                       weavershouse

ClimbHi's picture


EVERYBODY should have one! We built is as kind of an afterthought as part of an addition we built which included a new back porch. (Originally, this space was to be a spot for the grill -- the grill got bumped to it's current location under the porch.) It's on the porch, just outside the kitchen. Here's a pic near the end of construction. The oven is the brick structure behind the steps. The porch is now our "Summer kitchen." (Tho' we used it all Winter as well!)


photo 4photo 4

Wild-Yeast's picture

1000 degrees Fahrenheit! You'll be casting bronze bells out of that thing next!

Can't think of a better addition to a home than a wood fired oven. Are you members of the Forno Bravo forum too?


ClimbHi's picture


I visit the Forno Bravo forum from time to time. It helped a lot at the beginning when I was trying to figure out the basics of oven management. But this forum seems to be more focused on bread, my current Holy Grail.

Also, the FB ovens are primarily pizza ovens. They are lighter and thinner (don't hold as much heat for retained heat cooking) and are domed (think "igloo") ovens. Ours is a traditional arched-roof oven. So, much of the FB know-how, while it got me going in the right direction, is a bit off the mark for our oven.


Russ's picture

Very nice oven - you're going to have fun with that I can tell! I don't own my home, so don't have the option to put in an oven like that, but lately I've been looking into kamado ceramic cookers. They're mostly meant to be barbecue smoker/grills, but are said to perform much like a brick oven for bread as well. Of course the capacity would be nowhere near what you've got. Not even sure if/when I'll be able to afford one, but it's fun net-shopping for them.

Oh and just to add to your indecision, let me recommend a mixer that you didn't mention above: The Electrolux DLX. I've also heard good things about the Bosch, but I wouldn't trade my DLX for any other.

As far as KA mixers go, mine wasn't really up to bread making. It strained in a way that made me worry for its well being while making a single loaf batch of WW bread and overflowed (actually, more accurately the dough climbed the hook and got into nasty greasy stuff up where the hook attaches) when trying to make Floydm's recipe for cinnamon raisin bread - a three loaf batch.

I've not tested the limits of my DLX yet. The largest batch of bread I've made was 4 loaves worth (handled with ease - this is the very same WW dough that the KA struggled making a single loaf of). I've heard of others making batches of pizza dough using up to 8 lbs of flour (that's 28 cups worth!).


ClimbHi's picture

Russ: A friend of mine has a Big Green Egg. (I never heard the term "kamado" before, but from the pics on the web, the BGE looks like one.) He likes his a lot. Have you considered an oven cloche for bread?

As for mixers, I have the smaller KA (old). I'm limited to two loaf recipies, max. And even those will bring the mixer to a dead stall if it's not a wet dough! It's a workhorse for other mixing tasks, but a dough mixer/kneader, it ain't! Last weekend, I thought I'd killed it after the second batch. ;-(

Since I already have a KA that is fine for all uses BUT bread, I see no point in simply getting a bigger one. So I'm looking at the DLX and the Bosch. I must admit, I'm leaning towards the Bosch just because I've loved every Bosch tool I've ever had -- they're bulletproof and designed like a watch. Also, the biggest gripe about them seems to be that they're harder to clean and the bowl is plastic. Those issues have both been addressed with a new design and the SS bowls that are now available. The DLX is in the running tho'. I'd like to see one in action to help with the choice. But, since it'll be a while before the budget has enough slop for a new mixer, I have plenty of time to window shop. Provided I don't let the magic smoke out of the KA first. ;-)

Russ's picture

Hey ClimbHi,

Yes, BGE is the best known of the Kamados and the one that first caught my eye. It's definitely still one that I'm interested in, but I figure since I can't afford any of them I may as well admire the most expensive ones. My current favorite is called Komodo Kamado, and as far as I can tell, it's pretty amazing and very expensive.

As far as mixers go, I'd say you're on the right track looking at DLX and Bosch. Most everyone I know of who has one has been happy with it. When I replaced my KA I spent a lot of time researching mixers and had narrowed the field to the two same mixers. One of the things that sold me on the DLX were that it could handle a batch as small as a single loaf, where the Bosch was said to need at least two loaves worth. Of course now that I have the DLX, I find that I rarely make a single loaf and when i do, I'll often just decide to do it by hand. If you search this site a bit you'll find a lot of input from people using both mixers. Also, in case you don't know, there's a Yahoo group dedicated to mixers like the DLX and the Bosch:


ClimbHi's picture

Thanks, Russ -- I didn't know about that group. I signed up and will check it out.


Richard L Walker's picture
Richard L Walker

KA used to be owned by Hobart who used  metal gears and manufactured a fantastic machine.  KA was sold (I think) to Westinghouse who immediately replaced those metal gears with plastic gears.  The results were predictable.  If you want heavy duty you might  go with one of  those other brands  that use  metal gears.

subfuscpersona's picture

in the mid-80s.

I own two lift-bowl 5-quart Hobart-made Kitchenaid mixers. They are sturdy workhorses.

KosherBaker's picture

Boy I am almost literally green with envy. :) A huge huge congrats to you on this wonderful addition. What did you end up using as the base surface ceramic or cast iron? Or something else? I've been dreaming of having a brick oven for almost a decade now, however lately, I've also thought of enlarging the fire place and placing "shelves" on the sides for baking. I see lots of research in my future. :)

As far as the mixer, I'd like to put a vote in for a DeLonghi mixer. It has a 1000Watt motor and a 7 quart stainless steel bowl.

Great Job.


ClimbHi's picture

First, I want to recommend two books to you if you yearn to cook with fire:

The Magic of Fire:

The Bread Builders:

My oven is based on plans by Alan Scott, one of the authors of The Bread Builders and a leading wood-fired oven guru. It's hearth is 4" of reinforced concrete covered by 4" of firebrick on edge for a total of almost 8" of masonry. The walls and dome are also edgewise firebrick and 3" - 4" of reinforced concrete, with 4" -12" of vermiculite insulation.

You could certainly roast stuff on shelves in a fireplace, but I doubt you could bake in a fireplace without something like a dutch oven -- you just don't get the elevated air temps since the fire is constantly creating a draft of fresh air from the room up the chimney.

When baking bread, etc., my oven, like all traditional "black" ovens uses the fire built right in the baking chamber only to heat the masonry to proper temps. The fire is then allowed to burn down, the coals are raked out and the oven is sealed for baking, the cooking heat coming from the hot masonry, and not fire.

As Mike Avery noted in another thread, you can build a wood-fired oven for a lot less than I spent, especially if you build it in the yard and not as part of a structure like a house, where building codes require special considerations and expenses. That way, you can pretty much eliminate the expensive foundation work, fancy cladding and roof and triple-wall chimney. I'd guess that, if you're careful and use re-purposed materials, you could build a nice oven for around $1,000, with most of that spent for firebrick and concrete. (Even less if you want to build an earthen oven.) My guess is that, for baking, you'd spend less and have a better result doing this than modifying a fireplace.


KristinKLB's picture

How great to have it outside for keeping warm in the winter and not heating up the house in the summer. My .03 (inflation...): KitchenAid = Made in America.

ejm's picture

First of all, that is so cool!! I'm SO envious!

As for what kind of mixer, I mix and knead all our bread by hand. It's not at all a trial. So my vote is for a wooden paddle (about 3 inches across and 1/4 inch wide) and hands. A big wooden spoon works almost as well but I like the paddle more because it's flat. 

(But if I were to purchase a mixer, I suspect I'd be swaying towards Kitchen Aid - they come in such a nice red colour. :-))


flourgirl51's picture

I just sent you a message regarding the mixer.

ma6936's picture

I guess I will throw my hat in on the mixer choice. I have tried most of the standard mixers other than the Bosch. Who knows, maybe that will be next.

As far as KA goes, I still have the first one I ever bought when they were still produced by Hobart (the commercial mixer company) it is small and it has made a lot of bread in it's day. It must be 30 years old at this point, but I don't make as much bread in it as I used to. I purchased the larger KA (supposedly their strongest model with the 7 quart bowl) It burned out in a little over a year.


I tried the Electrolux for about a year, but was never satisfied and most of the time ended up taking the dough out and kneading it myself. Maybe it was me?!

Now I am using the Viking 7 quart mixer and it is doing a fine job on just about everything I try with it. I have had it for over a year now and there are no grinding gear noises nor does it start traveling across the counter top when it is kneading dough. It came in red, so there are no complaints here.

BKSinAZ's picture

That pizza looks great!

Do you deliver? ;)