Building and cooking with a clay oven in my backyard is one of the most rewarding things for me. Many people call these ovens “pizza ovens”, but that really severely undermines what a clay oven has to offer!
My clay oven functions like a super pizza factory, a tandoor, a “normal” oven (*shocking fact* – whatever you can cook in your normal oven can be cooked in the clay oven!), a slow cooker, a nut/muesli toaster and a wood drier (ha!). AND, what’s amazing is that my clay oven performs all of the above functions in ONE firing! (Now don’t you wish you have one for your Xmas or New Year party?!)
Here are the things I typically do in one firing: (Visual evidence are here.)
- Fire the oven for 2 hours.
- Have a pizza party! (My oven feeds ~30 people happily for 2-3 hours.)
- Let the fire burn down to an ember. (Oven temperature ~600 C)
- Push all the embers to the edge of the oven floor and wipe the center clean.
- Let everyone make and cook their own pizzas. (Everyone brings some pizza toppings to mix and match. I prepare the dough, cheese and sauce.)
- Keep adding kindling to the embers to keep the oven around 350-400 C (I never actually measured the temperature, but a thin crust pizza cooks in around 1 minute.) (Thick crust pizzas will need lower temperature for them to cook through without a burnt crust.)
- After everyone’s happily fed, sweep all the embers and ashes out of the oven and wipe the oven floor again.
- Cook naan breads (~300 C).
- After the oven has cooled to around 240-250 C, cook focaccia or other thinnish breads. They only take 15-20 minutes at this temperature. (If there is left over pizza dough, I’d make these into focaccia or stuffed loafs using left over pizza ingredients.)
- When the oven is around 220-230 C, the temperature is good for cooking muffins, pies that are no thicker than 3 cm, and a few loafs of bread. (Tip: to create steam for thin and crispy bread crust, I use the garden hose and spray a mist of water directly into the oven after I put the breads in.)
- When the temperature has cooled down further to 180 C, bake quiches, custard pies, and more bread.
- Finally when the oven has cooled to less than 150 C, throw in a few casseroles (I almost always chuck in a leg of lamb because my husband absolutely loves it.) Shut the oven door and say good night.
- The next morning, take the casseroles out. Oven mitts are still needed because the temperature is usually 80-100 C still! Meat cooked this way absolutely falls off the bone and melts in your mouth!
- Throw in some nuts/muesli to toast or just dry out some fire wood.
If you actually finished reading all this, I’m very glad! (THANK YOU! :)) I must have really got your attention! If you are enticed with the idea of cooking with a clay oven, please keep following my blog as I take you through more of my adventures with my clay oven.