Building a Pizza Oven: Fishing For a Plan

The Bread Builders book

I have been holding off on talking about this for awhile, because I knew once I started there would be no turning back. Since I am on the edge of killing my oven and am looking to push my pizza farther, I am considering building a backyard pizza oven. I’m not considering doing it to add to the Tuscan charm of my hill-top villa home (because my home is a shack next to a creek), but more to get to the root of the pizza baking experience: baking with fire. Pizza, to me, is about a successful crust. High baking temperature is a key component. 550 is as hot as my home oven gets. Stopping short of cooking a pie with the oven set to its cleaning cycle, I need an open flame.

I picked up The Bread Builders, mostly for the bread information, but also to investigate their wood burning oven plans. This will get me in the seven to nine hundred degree neighborhood (nice neighborhood!). Maybe, I could knock this project out in a weekend. These are the supplies I will need for their oven plan:

Hearth slab: Six 90-lb bags of sack mix or equivalent concrete, Oven cladding: Ten 90-lb bags of sack mix or equivalent, For base 38/1 high at hearth: Fifty-three blocks 16″ x 8″ and two blocks 8″ x 8″, Portland mortar to lay this amount of block and fifty bricks (four sacks mortar mix approximately), Portland fireclay mortar to lay one hundred twenty-five bricks OR Refractory mortar to lay one hundred twenty five bricks with 114″ joint lines (Fireclay mortar willI require one sack Portland cement, one sack fireclay, and three 100-lb sacks of fine mortar sand), Reinforcing mesh Oven cladding: 6′ x 7′ approx. of 6″ x 6″ lO-gauge, Reinforcing bar Hearth slab: 60′ of 5fs” bar (20′ lengths preferred), Block walls: ( optional) 120′ of 1 i2″ bar 168, Lumber Hearth slab form: One sheet of 3/4 ” CD X plywood; four 8′ lengths of 1″ x 4″ softwood, Bricks Hearth: Ninety-six standard-duty firebricks, Oven: One hundred twenty-five best-quality red bricks (10% less if using firebricks, 10% more if using modular-size bricks), Outer arch and flue throat: Fifty best-quality red bricks, Chimney: flue tile and red bricks to suit, Outer hearth: bullnose brick or stone slab to fit, Below outer hearth: Sixteen red brick splits or pavers, Lintels For block base: Two 2″ x 2″ X 31r6″ angle iron 64″ long, Oven doorway: One 2″ x 3″ x 1/4″ angle iron 22″ long, Foil Below oven cladding: Two rolls heavy-duty house-hold foil

Well…I think i have the aluminum foil in stock. Then, all I have to do is make all of that look like this:

bread builders oven

Crap. I’m screwed. The Bread Builders is an incredibly detailed book on oven building and bread science, but I think I need to investigate other options. Stay tuned.

2 replies on “Building a Pizza Oven: Fishing For a Plan”

  1. Hi Christian. Learned of you while teaching a rustic bread class in my kitchen in Wimberley. My husband owns Biga Restaurant ( and Auden’s Ktchen ( in San Antonio. I’ve been baking naturally leavened breads almost 20 years, including baking at the restaurant and opening my own place 1/2 of those years. Using Allen Scott’s plans, as well as other ideas, I intend to build my own oven/bakery on our property over the Blanco River in Wimberley soon. Patty Meyers of mentioned your name to me.

    Anyway, I’d like to follow you on this oven building project you have going on, and perhaps bake with you sometime? The Kitchen bakes a variety of pizzas now in our open flame oven if you’d like to check it out on the website.

    Look forward to meeting you one day. –Debra Auden

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