Friday, October 22, 2010

Dave's E-Z Bake Oven

For some time Dave has been talking about making pizza in a wood burning oven. The idea was originally going to be a large brick contraption off the deck by the pond. We could sit on the deck or in the hot tub and have a fire and then bake a pizza, or some such plan. Or maybe the idea was that baking bread over hot wood coals was in his mind. Whatever the muddle, the idea never got completely worked out or completely shelved. I know he thought when I baked bread that I was using up way too much of our propane, as we have a gas stove. He thought it took four hours to bake a loaf. How the truth gets distorted!
Anyway...our man Mike knew of a guy who had a wood burning stove and that is all Dave needed to hear. Dave bought it, and he and Mike spent the day with Harold, our body shop man, cleaning, painting, braising, restoring and polishing the thing and then installing it in our potting shed, now referred to as the Workshop. Previously it was the Motorcycle salon, which accounts for the tiled floors.

They did a nice job making a hole, sealing it and installing the stove pipe safely.  Gratuitous pug pic.

I mentioned that we'd need an oven temperature gauge and that pizza or bread needs high temps to bake properly, so we went shopping and got all sorts of stuff for the project. I made dough and let it rise while we had a test of the oven. It was still early in the day and with the fire going and the pup enjoying a milkbone, we put the new kettle on the stove and made coffee. We sat in front of the tiny stove and watched the fire blaze and die, several times.
Then as I checked on the pizza dough Dave collected a lot more twigs and kept stoking the fire to increase the heat.

The gauge never got higher than 250 degrees, which is about 200 degrees short of the necessary temp for pizza baking. Just fyi, there is a baking space in the back of the oven, with a rack and that turned out to be pretty small, but just the right size for a cake pan. I made two mini pizzas and we waited for the heat...and waited. Eventually Dave couldn't stand it anymore and decided we should try it.
So we slid one pizza in the space and hoped for the best. How long should it take to make a small pizza in a slow oven? Good question. After about 20 minutes we looked in and saw a black topped disc and pulled it out. We cut it. We tasted. IT WAS DELICIOUS. We ate it all before I could even consider taking a picture. This is the second one. Just as good but not as blackened.

After we walk the dog this morning, we are building a fire and having our coffee out there...while the novelty lasts.


  1. Wow it's great to see Dave up and about. So the stove has a place inside to cook - that's very interesting. Oh, did you have a post a while back about getting a new camera? If so what did you get?

  2. That sounds like fun! We've been making pizza outside on our gas grill and it is amazing! Had to use the hose a couple times to keep the bottom crust from burning but it's all part of the fun, right?!

  3. You and Dave are a rare breed! I love you folks.

  4. Ahhh... life in the country!

  5. How FUN!! To think our grandmothers couldn't WAIT to have a stove with an oven that you just turned the dial and voila - heat!! lol

  6. My mom grew up in Transylvania, and remembers how they cooked on wood-burning stoves and ovens. I'm happy to have a gas stove and gas grill.

    Chumley is so cute.

  7. Pammyfay11:13 AM

    The series of pics of Dave sitting in front of the stove, watching, waiting--very funny to me!

    And now that so many of us are gaga over Chumley, you just might have to change the name of your blog to Chumleymania! (With a side of all that fiber stuff! hahaha. How long will it be until we see a Chum-inspired quilt?)

  8. You cannot imagine my delight upon reading this post! I saw your blog on Kate's roll. My husband and I have recently been talking of building a pizza oven too. We love to make homemade pizzas and thought it would be fun to have one outside! I LOVE your woodburning stove. I would LOVE to have one of those too!!! I can't wait to show this to my hubby. Ever hear of a magazine called GRIT? I found it at Sam's last weekend. They have a superb article on building a bread/pizza oven outdoors. We hope to make one this summer! Love your blog!

  9. We have a woodstove and use to cook on it all the time. We used a cast iron dutch oven without the legs and it made the best stews! Just do the prep in the mornings and keep the fire stoked all day, by supper it's delicious! Our woodstove is in the house so it did double duty warming the house at the same time.

  10. Never a dull moment at the Johnson household...LOL

    That's such a great idea!!! I just made homemade pizza a couple days ago (I use my bread machine to make the dough) and it always turns out delicious, but I love this idea of the woodstove!! We have a LARGE attached enclosed sunporch off the kitchen that we use all year round. We generally eat our meals out there but when it was added on to the house many years ago by the former owners it wasn't insulated and the windows aren't the most energy efficient, so we seal them up in the winter and keep the sliding door closed most of the time. I have an electric heater out there but wonder if a woodstove wouldn't be better. Hmmmmmm...think I'll have to ask my DH what he thinks. We certainly have LOTS of trees to get logs or branches to feed it. Thanks for the idea :)

  11. Oh dear. How will you make a whole turkey fit in that thing?

    Just kidding.

    I don't like turkey.

    But I like Chumley!

  12. we built a fire ring in our back yard and bought an Amish made tripod with a grate that would fit over it. We cooked chicken and steaks over an open fire and there is nothing to compare to the taste. But there is a lot to be said for modern conveniences. I can't imagine having to build a fire and work over it every day just to feed the family. The novelty wore off. I only cook like that maybe once a year now.

    I love Chumley. Our Golden died a few months ago, and I have been thinking about different breeds to get. Pugs are one of the kinds I am thinking of. They are just so cute!!

  13. These small twigs won't reach the proper temperature. I recommend coal briquets or larger logs of birch which produces the best heat. The fire door is very small indeed. Can you get egg-shaped coal briquets? They cause a glow that will certainly bake bread. Larger briquets can maintain heat for a few hours.

  14. Anonymous4:33 PM

    I LOVE the pizza!! We have been cooking our own pizza for years now on the a very different way that Dave might like too (it's a guy thing). We make pizza dough, let it proof and then roll it out into whatever odd shape it chooses. We then throw the rolled dough onto our gas grill...just a short time on each side until it's "baked". Generally we prepare several shells and freeze them. Next, with the grill turned down low we put on a garlic/parsley/olive oil mixture, pizza sauce, sauteed onions and peppers and then lots of mozzarella and the spectular part is the last bit which requires "firing" the thing with a flame thrower!! It's actually a weed burner that you can purchase for about $25.00 at any propane accessory shop. It puts out a pretty good flame and you just use that flame to melt the cheese and warm up the toppings and voila!! It's pizza! We've made "flame-thrower" pizzas for years here on the ranch and did about 600 of them at a festival this past weekend. They're delicious and done in a matter of seconds!
    Carol - Houston


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