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posted posted April 15, 2004

How they got built

When we first put out feelers in 1995 to see if anything would stop us from building a communal wood-fired oven, we found to our amazement that there was nothing to stop us. The building inspector said the oven was too small to come under his jurisdiction. (He also looked at the oven plan diagrams and told us he had once been a bricklayer, and that he thought, personally, that our plans looked good.)

The park supervisor said he didn't see anything wrong with our oven plans, and then he went away on holidays. The fire department said they had no problem with an enclosed fire set some distance away from any other building. A government agency that had given us a small "child nutrition grant" said that fresh bread from an oven sounded nutritious to them, so we could use some of the grant to pay for the oven materials. A friendly and capable contractor in the neighbourhood looked at our plans and said, sure, he was busy in the week but he could get our oven built in a couple of weekends. So with nothing to stop the oven, we went ahead and built it. Our experiences, and suggestions to others, are written down in a booklet called Cooking With Fire in Public Space. You can download a PDF copy of the un-illustrated text by clicking here: Cooking With Fire in Public Space. You can also see a step-by-step photo gallery of how the oven was built, and get some tips: Read more >>

The plans came from Alan Scott oven designer and builder, visiting leader of our second oven workshop, desem sourdough baker. Alan's web site is You might read The Bread Builders by Daniel Wing and Alan Scott (Chelsea Green, 1999) a "thoughtful, entertaining, and authoritative book that shows you how to bake superb healthful bread and build your own masonry oven".

Links: the brick oven page at the Masonry Heater Association's web site is full of interest.

The Saint Paul Bread Club has done a lot of sleuthing about where outdoor wood-fired bread ovens might be located in the U.S.

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