The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

UK clay oven course

Salilah's picture

UK clay oven course

Went on a day's course to build a wood-fired clay oven last weekend at Wandlebury (south of Cambridge, UK)

Great fun experience - I'd definitely recommend it!  Rupert runs these sessions once a month (roughly) at an open-air park / learning place south of Cambridge.  Although the brochure and email recommend warm clothing and old shoes for "treading the clay", we went on the hottest day of the year - so it was sun-tan lotion and bare feet!  I took along a couple of sourdough loaves for fun, which we baked first thing (sadly the oven wasn't quite hot enough so they were somewhat undercooked).  We then mixed up the clay and sand mix, made a sand and water "form" to work on, then slapped on the clay & sand mix and thwacked it to make a good shape.  Left this to dry for a while, and Rupert taught the group how to make a basic yeasted bread.  Pizza for lunch, done in the existing ovens, plus a ham Rupert had cooked in his home oven (12-18 hours in foil - wonderful!), plus my loaves, and one he'd done.  We went back and cut the entrance to the oven, and "tickled" out the sand to leave the clay&sand shell.  We fired this, and it was drawing rather well!  Back to shaping bread, then baking in existing ovens (worked quite well).  The oven would need another 3 coats, including one which would have wood shavings in to create airholes and hence insulation.  The oven was build on a wood frame with sand and then bricks on top - not sure how long his base will survive, but it was very large!

Overall a great time, we learned a lot - and we plan to build our own oven this year or next (just need to learn how to put up roof tiles to make a shelter first - wonder if there is a training course on that?? <grin>).  It was way way simpler than I would have believed...

Will add some photos later when I can sort out the camera...


ananda's picture

Hi Sali,

Seen the clay-treading done, but didn't fancy getting my feet in there at all.   Glad to read you had such a good day, and look forward to seeing the photographs

All good wishes


bertie26's picture

Hello sally 

it sound very exciting. Ggood to see you had a good time, ,.Cant wait to see the photos too bye Albert