Public Bakeovens



Cooking with Fire in Public Parks


Building Day, December 17 2016: version one

Getting the site ready, Dec.16, 2016

view out the kitchen door

Ava using the rusted axe to chip the ice off the blocks

the spot for the foundation,swept and salted

So this somewhat goofy winter oven project is ready to begin tomorrow. There was snow a week ago and then a sudden flash whiteout yesterday (at exactly the time Yo's plane was landing). There was ice on the ground and on the concrete blocks -- that had to be salted and chipped. The forecast is for 10 - 15 cm more snow tonight, turning into rain in the morning. That's why we've borrowed a market tent from Dufferin Grove. Will it be enough? Six people are coming to work on the oven unless the weather turns out to make it impossible.

Oven building day,Dec.17 2016

The weather was not bad, no snow and no rain. There was lots of snow from before, but the awning was good and with that many on the crew, the snow as soon trampled flat. A very satisfying day.

foundation and cement block, first hearth bricks

sorting the snowy bricks

figuring out the oven door

laying up the bricks -- jigsaw puzzle

knocking the snow off the bricks

interior -- higher than Kiko suggested

Yo lights the first twig fire

building crew and backup crew
The people who came to help

Alan Carlisle: brick donour and inspiration

Dale Howey: ace, practical hands-on guidance

Yo Utano: came all the way from Japan to help

Ava Lightbody: park baker, up for anything

Mayssan Shuja Uddin and Hana Mia - making it happen

Matt Leitold -- former baker, part of the former core Dufferin crew

Cameron Howey: came along with Dale to help

Rob Howard, part of the main crew, whose family came to admire

From Yo: It was a cold day. Having been away for four years, I was not used to ice anymore. It fixes bricks on the ground, glues them together, and makes their surface rough with ice stuck on it. Very annoying, but thatís what Canadian winter is. Bricks came in all sorts of sizes and shapes; straight rectangle, angled for arch, thick, medium, thin. It was like a puzzle to combine them.

From the beginning when we built the foundation with concrete bricks, Dale seemed to have a good idea of the final shape. He said it was because he had been imagining the future oven of his own on their farm, so he could apply some of it to our Lego oven.

There is a plywood board on top of the concrete block foundation. On top of the plywood is a cement board. Then on top of the board, we laid 40 bricks for the hearthófour for the width, ten for the depth. Itís double-layered, so there are 80 bricks in total for the hearth. The wall is made by piling 6 bricks...


First firing day, Dec.19 2016

hard to light at first, but then good (minus 9)

smoke went out every which way, except up the "chimney"

close-up of view from my upstairs window

end of the evening -- very hot fire

Dec.20, 2016: first cooking session

Yo loads the first pizza

reluctant fire, chilly pizza

pizza -- cooked a bit uneven but tasty

Winter cooking is a bit peculiar and trying out an oven for the first while is even more peculiar. Yesterday, after a reluctant oven at the start, the fire burned well for many hours. Today, the fire was sluggish all the way through (maybe 2 hours). We ended up doing the main pizza inside and just a test pizza outside (sourdough crust!). The test pizza took a long time (10 minutes, maybe) in what felt like a pretty cool oven. But in the end it was not raw, as we feared, and in fact it tasted quite delicious.

We built the oven higher than the park oven, higher than Kiko (and Alan Scott) suggest. More like a beehive oven, but of course not round. We'll try it out more and then decide if we want to take the bricks down a couple of rows.

From Yo: It burns well but smoke came out of every crack. After three hours of firing, we cooked one pizza to test the oven. By then there were enough coals to cook it thoroughly, taking a long time, but it was clear that the inside temperature wasnít very hot. The bottom could have been hotter if I paid more attention to the fire. We concluded that there was too much space in the oven to heat.

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Content last modified on February 25, 2017, at 09:14 AM EST