The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Earth ovens and breads

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Earth ovens and breads

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:

‘07 Earth, Oven, Art Workshops
If you can make mud pies, you can build with earth. Good material is often underfoot. Practical, beautiful, dirt cheap, and faster than you think, mud is also sculptural, colorful, and rich, whether you make ovens, benches, garden walls, or houses. And you can do it with your kids! “Mud ovens” were the original masonry ovens (brick is, after all, fired clay). The ovens we make bake beautiful bread (and anything else), and perform as well as the fancy $4,000 Italian ones. You can build a simple one in a day, learn about cob and natural building – and make the best pizza and breads.

WITH KIKO DENZER & HANNAH FIELD (other instructors as noted)
Kiko & Hannah have been teaching oven and bread workshops together for about seven years. They have taught for Bob’s Red Mill, Andrew Whitley’s Village Bakery (UK), the King Arthur Flour Company, and will be among the featured instructors for the Bread Baker’s Guild of America’s “Camp Bread” at the San Francisco Baking Institute this spring. Kiko is an artist/ builder and author of Build Your Own Earth Oven (now in a revised third edition with a bread chapter by Hannah), & Dig Your Hands in the Dirt: A Manual for Making Art out of Earth (Hand Print Press). Hannah baked professionally for organic bakeries in the UK, and is also an organic gardener and massage therapist — in addition to helping her husband write usefully about bread.

May 12-13, Ovens & Bread. Sally and Dan Herman’s home/farm/garden near Salem, OR. Still a few spots left. Send a deposit soon.

May 20-22, San Francisco, “Camp Bread:” sponsored by the Bread Baker’s Guild of America, hosted by San Francisco Baking Institute. Unfortunately, this is completely booked, but we have a traveling slide presentation on earth, art, ovens, and community, and can do short demos/intros to earthen ovens, retained heat cooking, and sourdough bread. If you’re in the Bay area and interested, please call or writeJune 30/July 1, Ovens & Bread: Buena Vista House Café and Lodging, near Salem, OR. The site features a semi-commercial earthen pizza oven for the baking segment, and a cob guesthouse.

July ? art/design & earthen plasters: at the North American School of Natural Building, Coquille, Oregon, with Kiko Denzer. Let me know if you’re interested, and stay tuned.

August 4-5, “the KNEADING Conference:” Unity, Maine, with the Maine Organic Farmers & Gardener’s Association, & farmers, millers, oven-builders, educators, and bakers of all kinds. Hands-on, practical focus on local, sustainable bread, from soil to seed to loaf; separate fee schedule: contact:

September 8-9: Ovens & Bread: Buena Vista House Café & Lodging, Salem, OR.

Ongoing, Local to Corvallis area: a school project, some private jobs, and another attempt at a home wheat patch, where I hope to grow a year’s worth of bread. Know of any older varieties of long-straw, soft wheats suitable to our coastal NW climate? I’d be grateful for tips. If you’re interested in joining us for a community mud day, we’ll be making mud- and adobe bricks. There may also be some hands-on learning opportunities for serious apprentices. Please call or write.


DETAILS for KIKO & HANNAH’S WORKSHOPS: Workshops cover everything you need to know to make an oven and bake anything in it, as well as Hannah’s simple approach to naturally leavened, “artisan” breads.

FEES: $175 per person for two days of hands-on learning, lunches, and snacks. For those with limited, low, or fixed incomes, we can and do reduce fees; please inquire.

FORMAT: Both days combine oven-making with bread-baking, adjusted to suit participants. By the second day, we’ll have a “temporary oven” to bake in, and a more permanent oven to finish. The Buena Vista course may include opportunities to work with decorative plasters on a small hybrid earth/timber-frame cottage.

ACCOMODATIONS: Workshop sites are in or close to towns with overnight facilities of various kinds. The Buena Vista House Café and Lodging has B&B style rooms which can be arranged separately.

INSTRUCTION: Kiko Denzer: I’m an artist, and have been building ovens since 1994. Hannah’s been baking since about 1984, including several years as a professional baker. We bake 25 pounds of whole-grain sourdough every other week in a mud oven. It’s a staple food, and we don’t have a conventional oven. Our philosophy for workshops is that we all participate, we all learn, and we all teach. Groups are generally interesting, diverse, and fun. We also believe that the cooking of food (and growing it) is essential to the survival of true culture. Our hope is that workshops not only help people make good ovens and bake good bread, but also that, by working, cooking, learning, and eating together, we maintain the living fabric of community and culture.

TO REGISTER (not for Texas or Maine): Send a check or postal money order for 50% of the course fee, payable to Kiko Denzer, at POB 576, Blodgett OR 97326. Note your first and second choices for workshop dates. Registration fees are partially refundable if we have a waiting list and/or can fill your space. There’s a 20% discount for full pre-payment by 3 weeks before your chosen workshop. When we get your payment, we’ll send confirmation and other info.

MORE INFO/QUESTIONS: Please call 541-438-4300, or email

BOOKS: The new oven book features a super-insulated design, Hannah’s bread chapter, a chapter on mobile, community, & “rocket” ovens; plus lots of new photos & drawings and completely revised & updated text. Price is $17.95, shipping is free (check or money order to Hand Print Press, POB 576, Blodgett OR 97326. Look inside it (and other titles) at

OTHER COURSES (Please note: separate instruction/contact/registration info): July 9-20, Earth ovens and plasters, Portland OR, with Bernhard Masterson & Lydia Doleman, Portland Community College, Rock Ck, $237 (3 credits), Mon-Thus, all day. Info: Bernhard Masterson, 503-929-8583,

October 20-28th, Ovens & Natural Building: Austin, Texas, at the site of the Kerrville folk festival: a colloquium to learn by making things. Kiko is scheduled to be there to help with ovens, bread, and other sculpture. Contact: