It is with much rejoicing and carrying-on that I announce the maiden burning of our Loven (wood-fired masonry oven).
Whee! Of course I paid homage to Prometheus, Hestia, Brigid and Haphaestos: mortal and immortal tenders of flame. The patron saint of bricklayers and masons (St. Stephen) and architects (the apostle Thomas) got their due. While I was at it I thanked the patron saints of bakers (St. Elizabeth of Hungary and St. Nicholas), winemakers (St. Martin of Tours) and farmers (St. Isidore) and gardeners (St. Fiacre). It was quite a crowd: I invoked them all by tossing my flour onto the hot floor of the oven and saying a simple “thanks a lot!” to the whole lot. Grazie!
In reality, it was just my family here to celebrate. First out of the oven: two pizzas, with our cheese and herbs and veg. Followed quickly by four loaves of sourdough bread (I have a new levain and love it), then in went one small pot of lentils with homemade chix sausage/sage and one roasting chicken, cooked simultaneously. The oven cooled and I set in it a quick clafouti with local sweet cherries (our milk and eggs) and then, overnight, I let the oven cool completely and roast out some of our new fresh garlic for future garlic jelly.
Watch the smoke! As you can see, it’s still a construction zone, but…we’ve got a certificate of occupancy so we’re fired up and functional
I can tell I am going to have a LOT of fun with my new toy.
That’s great! I am so glad that I found your blog, you are such an inspiration!
So. Cool. And gorgeous, too! Is the space underneath for wood storage?
Indeed, Emily. Right now it’s a toad catcher (there’s a water drainage issue) but its intent is a space to store your wood.
err, ummm, ahhhh…WOW! You there, young lady, you are a one woman dynamo and a damned good writer to boot! This post made me smile, (broadly)…
Gosh, darn it! I want one of those! This is why I build my life as an impregnable fortress against advertising. But your blog, El, it’s my tv commercial, the bus stop billboard, and the unsolicited catalog in my mailbox. Covetous, that’s the word.
It’s really beautiful- I love it!
Where did you guys find the keystone for the arch?
Where did you guys find the plans?
Can you give a rough estimate of materials cost?
I want one!!! I really want one.
Yours is really good looking, too. I really like it!
That is quite spectacular. It was nice that you included all of the saints in your opening ceremony.
Pizza and claflouti..who can ask for more than that?
Life is good.
Looks wonderful! I am envious. Did you have to meet any local code requirements for the oven?
Congratulations El! A huge accomplishment, with a lot of hard work. The first items in and out sound delicious, especially the garlic. How are you working out the timing for cooking the dishes?
Holy cats! That is QUITE an innaugural feast! I’m impressed that you were able to plan out such a thorough use of it- even using the cooling oven to roast garlic- brilliant! Can’t wait to see what other creations you pull out of this lovely thing…
Great looking – and looks like it’s functioning great too.
No doors? Gets hot enough for bread despite no doors? and then the heat remains in for the overnight cooking? I am impressed.
Outdoor kitchen is in the long range plans here… meanwhile, I bow to you!
Hi Sylvie, oh yeah, it has a door. A door that weighs as much as the oven, I do swear. I haven’t taken full “action” photos yet, but will soon…
I see… you are just showing us some teaser shots…
That is beautiful. Congratulations. I can just imagine all the fun you’re going to have, and I look forward to reading all about it.
Oh, oh, oh, oh!
El, this is the best thing ever!! You rocked this!
Good for you!.The oven looks great.Have fun with it this summer.
Nice one. I think about building one all the time, but there’s no time to build one. Firebrick on the inside?
Looks fantastic, as expected! Congrats 🙂
Thanks, see. I hope you take one on if you have a hankering!
Emily, glad you like it.
Randi, hah. Not so young but I am determined. And usually hungry.
Kate! Sorry to break the seal of your bubble! I am sure you would find many things to do with something like this. I do have enough bricks left over for a rocket stove too.
Paula, hah. The keystone is a concrete paver that we cut down to fit it. I followed the general outlines of Alan Scott’s book The Bread Builders. All in all the project came to about $800 BUT I haven’t put a cover over it yet…in other words, it is ready for use but not the general weather. The project’s cost, then, shall still rise.
Pamela, yes, and then all of a sudden people want to come over to our house and use it or help build it. I feel very Little Red Hen.
Don, local codes? Hah! There are no local codes. However, I am no idiot so I made sure it was a certain distance from the house and that it was made of noncombustible materials. It helps that we have a metal roof and asphalt shingles on our house.
MC, the timing thing is hit or miss. It really depends how much wood you stick in it and how long you let it burn and equalize but yeah, we’re getting better with each firing. I just know that the hotter it is the faster things cook, just like our regular oven.
Taylor, the fact that you have to actually work to heat it up (unlike, say, your stove and oven) means you really try to maximize what’s going in it. So yeah we think 2 days ahead, which gives my sourdough sponge a few days to work itself out.
Sylvie, yeah, teaser shots. It’s a long way to being “finished” in terms of what I consider to be “done:” however, yeah, there’s lots of good things to be baked and cooked in here this summer. THEN there’s the tomato roasting for the sauce…
Brett, yeah, the biggest problem I am “having” is ramping my bread production back up to doing 6-9 loaves. I had been in the habit of doing 1 loaf at a time (yipes, sacrilege!).
Kathy, thanks. It’s cool. AND I have my husband interested in food production now: fire=good.
Thanks John. Hopefully I can use it year-round too.
Peter, firebrick on the floor only. Solid bricks everywhere else. There’s a thermal slab too and lots and lots of concrete. It DOES take time but if you’re determined it should only take a couple of months.
Sara, thanks. You would love using it. If ever you need to come east…
That’s fantastic! I’ve really been missing out by not keeping up with the reading.
WOW! I absolutely LOVE it! The oven looks amazing. Congrats on a job well done & of course the well deserved fruits of your labor.