Experiments in Bread oven construction, based on designs from medieval Manuscripts.

Pictures to follow or see www.myphotos.org.uk c1265 Bread oven sections

Version 1

Constructed May 2001

This was designed to be portable. We therefore built it on a metal base plate about the size of a dustbin lid.

The framework was made of willow, woven to a dome shape.

Terra cotta clay and straw in 50:50 were trampled together and applied to the framework, with a space left for a door.

The oven was allowed to dry for 2 weeks, and then fired using wood chips.

We cooked several loaves of bread in this oven and some cake too.

Advantages

Light & portable

Easy to build

Disadvantages

The metal floor cooled too quickly

The construction was not sturdy enough to last longer than a long weekend of constant use.

It was too small to bake enough for us once we all realized how good the bread from it tasted !

Future Improvements

Solid clay, brick or stone floor

Thicker walls

Either mount on a cart or use light weight materials such as pumice or vermiculite to lighten it to keep some portability.

Make a bigger permanent one, at the field or at home

Version 2 -July 2001

This time I used Raku clay and Perculite (a volcanic rock). Mixing the two together.

The mix was then pressed around a sand dome mold, the wall thickness was tripled from version 1, pressure is down not into the mold and left to dry.

Well it dried over the year and in March 2002 I fired it in a electric kiln, successfully. I plan to use fire bricks for the base this time and will post its greatness (or not) as a bread oven after Whit camp

Updates as & when I have them !



Other accessories

Oak door- This is used when baking bread. It should be close fitting and soaked in water prior to ever use.

A natural mop-on a long pole. I used a new floor mop.

A wire brush on a long pole. I used a wire brush for fire cleaning or decoration cut off the handle & mounted on a broom pole.

A flat large spatula device of metal to put in and remove bread.

An ash scraper to drag ashes out, I used a garden tool on a broom pole.

Baking method

Light a fire of wood chips in the back of the oven, keep feeding until you can barely stand the heat of the oven.

Scrap out ashes.

Wet mop & mop the floor.

Put you bread in , seal the door.

Leave until cooked ( no I can't tell you how long that might be, in any case you are in medieval times you have no watch right ?)

Meanwhile prepare a cake.

Depending on oven heat cook more bread or the cake.

Prepare tomorrow's porridge if you fancy, this can be left in the cooling oven to slowly cook, then be reheated.

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