wood-fired oven party
A wood-fired oven focuses attention and activity, and gives us warmth, food, and stories…click on the photo for Michael Pollan’s oven story

Wood-fired ovens make not only the best pizza, but also improve the flavor and cooking of almost any dish (due to their unique “triple-heat” capability). In addition, a well-insulated oven can hold heat for hours (or days), which makes it a useful and efficient tool for cooking lots of food with not much fuel.

It seems that almost everyone wants one — in the backyard, in the kitchen, or on the patio. And while it’s (more or less) easy to build — in mud, or brick — it takes time and practice to learn how to make the most of it. Here’s our collection of the best questions, answers, and stories about design, construction, and use of the oven, from a variety of authoritative sources, including:

And you! Please add stories, recipes, questions, sources, and experiences. And while we started out with a definite bias toward mud as the best and most democratic material (not to mention cheapest), we work (commercially and otherwise) with brick and hi-tech, commercial materials as well. So it’s all up for discussion. Here are some ways you can participate:

In addition, here are some of our favorite sources for knowledge, info, and good questions:

  • The Masonry Heater Association: a gathering of professional and amateur builders and users of wood-fired heat, both for cooking and staying warm when its cold. Their listserve is active and extremely informative. And their brick oven page is a great source of links and info.
  • Yahoo Groups Brick Oven Group: people all over the US (and elsewhere) who have built, are building, or want to build a wood-fired oven — many of them end up helping each other with anything from sourcing materials, to building, to recipes and other technical details.
  • The Rocket Stove Discussion board, a group of experimenters and pyromaniacs who are pushing the edge of the wood-fired envelope with new designs and techniques — mostly on stoves for heating. (We sell the book!)