Building your own wood-fire oven is a pretty substantial project – it will probably take you more than just one weekend, but the great wood-fired taste is well worth it. You can cook pizza, bread, meats, roasts, casserole dishes and even bake cakes in a wood fire oven and you never have to clean the grease inside the oven – ever!
A wood-fire oven can be built on any flat ground or on a built-up bank of earth. You will need to have an area that is well compacted and has good drainage. Also since the clay domed top-piece remains unfired you will need to consider appropriate shelter because if the clay gets rained on it will eventually break down. You may also want to check with your state council before you begin building to make sure you are complying with the fire safety laws in your area.
This design of wood-fire ovens originated in Italy (traditionally called a Forno). Once you light a fire and let it die down the clay walls of the top dome chamber absorb the heat – the gentle fire is perfect for cooking pizza and bread. The ash can be easily swept out of the oven and that is all the cleaning you will need to do.
The oven is made mostly out of masonry bricks, cement and clay – all materials that you can get from building/landscaping supplier. I'd recommend going directly to a building supplier rather than your local landscaping or hardware store to avoid paying the marked-up prices for the materials. Try Australbricks for bricks and pavers and Boral for the concrete and oxide.
There are not many clay suppliers in Brisbane. Visit Pottery Supplies in Milton where you can purchase clay in 12.5kg bags - you will probably need about five bags to fill half a wheel barrow. In other cities a google search will return a few options. The instructions from Better Homes and Gardens suggest using plastic clay (terracotta or ball clay) but you can use anything depending on the colour finish you want. The plasticity of clay refers to the water content in it – so the less plastic your clay is the less sand you'll want to add to it. The staff at Pottery Supplies are really friendly and will be able to suggest something if you are unsure.
If you are looking for a simpler option or want a really professional looking oven you can order a kit online from Mediterranean Woodfire Ovens, prices start from $1,000.
You can also find some great traditional wood-fire recipes here.