March 9, 2009 - 9:50am
cob oven and fireplace inserts for baking?
I am seriously considering making a cobb oven this summer. While browsing through all assorted informations on woodstoves of every magnitude, I got to wondering.... since I have a fireplace insert and woodburning stove in two different rooms of my house now, whyever am I not just baking my breads and pizzas right there? Any advice gladly accepted!
Fireplace insert? As in gas? Probably no good. Woodburning fireplace insert? You could use it for dutch oven bread using the coals. Baking loaves otherwise, probably not, since you couldn't really get the "oven" effect -- just a modest "broiler" effect. I know for sure it wouldn't work for pizza since you can't generate enough heat. (Good thing, or you'd probably wind up burning the house down!) That said, given a proper hearth, there's lots of cooking to be done with a fireplace, and some good books written about that subject.
Wood stove? If it's masonry lined, I don't see why not if it has enough mass. Just get it hot, rake out the coals, and bake your bread with the retained heat. The only potential problem is I'm not sure it would be big enough to stay hot for the 1/2 hour or so it takes to bake a loaf. Also, the relatively small size might put the loaf too close to the walls/roof causing burning. Still, worth a try. Nothing ventured, etc.
I've never built or used one, but it seems a cobb oven is a great and low-cost way to get cooking with wood.
It is a wood-burning unit. My house was hand-built of local stone in 1935. The fireplace itself is a nice size, but was not efficient due to loss of heat going up the chiminey. We had a woodburning insert installed this Autumn and it makes such a BIG dif in the heating of the house. We keep the thermosat at 60 all the time and use both the fireplace and the woodburning stove daily to supplement the oil. So, naturally, since we use them consistantly, I couldn't see any reason not to use for baking as well. Yes, both floors are tiled, and, my thought was, that if I turn off the blower, this should, in theory, keep the heat self-contained long enough to bake breads and maybe even a small pizza? Thanks, I am thinking, as you said, nothing ventured...... :-)
As for the cobb, not sure if I want to do this, or a brick oven; I figure I still have a few months till the warm weather comes to decide.
ivy, ny - where the weather got COLD again! brrr...
"Yes, both floors are tiled, and, my thought was, that if I turn off the blower, this should, in theory, keep the heat self-contained long enough to bake breads and maybe even a small pizza?"
My bet is that it won't work. It would be like trying to bake bread in a frying pan. You need radiant heat all around, and a lot of it. Much more than a fireplace puts out. An oven is designed to retain the heat inside -- a fireplace is designed to radiate the heat out into the room a bit, but mostly it goes up the chimney pretty fast. My oven gets so hot it's uncomfortable to put your hand into it (or even close to the door) for even a few seconds. My fireplace is nowhere near that hot. I'm still thinking your best bet is to get yourself a dutch oven for bread and other bakables in the fireplace/wood stove.
In the meantime, look here for some thoughts:
I am using my fireplace to heat the upstairs throughout the winter - yes, it's still winter in Minnesota:(
I am also wondering if it would be possible to use it for baking pizza or even the occasional loaf in it. I own a wood-burning Opel 2 fireplace insert, to be found here:
I pretty much keep a fire going 24/7, with it cooling off a bit overnight. When I checked the temperature of the walls (firebrick inserts) the other day, the read at 700 degrees, which I think would be good for baking, right?
I'm thinking about getting a few firebricks to put into the center of the fireplace, then build a good, hot fire. Then brush off the firebrick in the center and bake (or attempt, at least).
Any thoughts on that? If the sides and probably bottom bricks read 700 degrees, would that give me enough heat to bake a pizza?
Would it be dangerous to add some firebricks to the center of the fireplace? I'm guessing it would be about 10x10 inches and maybe 3 inches high (or less, if I need to lay the bricks flat).
Any input is greatly appreciated.
I initially toyed with the idea of building an oven using Kiko Denzer's book as a guide. Very informative, and instead of using clay, I drew out a caternary arch and used that as the design for my oven using "Denzer's" recommendations for the door etc. It was relatively inexpensive to build and withstands the cold climate of Ontario where I live. The base below was excavated down 4 ft to inhibit heaving from frost, which is our biggest concern living in a climate of 7 months almost of winter.
This is a picture of my oven completed two years ago with old reclaimed "clay" bricks. It works great and gives off a bit of smoke initially until the oven temperature comes up. Then there is no problem. The cover is to protect the outer whitwash from rain and snow as I didn't want it to degrade. As well as the bricks I have covered the bricks with aluminum foil to prevent the outer 2" concrete layer from sticking to the bricks thereby preventing any damage from expansion. Over that, there is two (2) 2" layers of thermal insulation using perlite, cement, and clay. The base is made up of 3/4" plywood, mounted on 4 x 4 pressure treated posts bolted together using 6 x 6" timbers, followed by concrete board and about 40 - 50 stubby beer bottles laid on their sides in a matrix of clay, cement and planer shavings. This is followed by a 2" clay, sand mixture with 2 1/2" fire brick floor on top.