How to Use a Pizza Oven. Cooking Pizza in your Cob Oven.

You’re here because you’re thinking of building a pizza oven. You can buy them, but they cost thousands of dollars.  THOUSANDS.  You can build a pizza oven for around $150 in a few weekends.  If you missed the tutorials on how to build your own pizza oven, click through the links below.

How to Build a Cob Pizza Oven Part 1. (the base and the basic form)

How to Build a Cob Pizza Oven Part 2. (making cob & forming it)

How to Build a Cob Pizza Oven Part 3.  (the insulation layer and lime plaster)

After a bit of money a lot of work and a little bit of time, the pizza oven is complete. I’ve been using it for 4 years now and it’s held up perfectly. I haven’t had a single problem with it. Since building the oven I’ve also built a custom insulated pizza oven door that can withstand heat so I can keep the oven closed while baking things like bread or whole chickens.

But what do I use this pizza oven for mainly?  Pizza of course.

 

As you can see, the fire goes right inside the oven.  And it keeps going for 3 hours.

The great thing is when it isn’t being used to make pizza, bread, roasts or pie it still looks really great and inviting.

 

 

But yeah.  It does look its best with a crackling fire.

I have potted herbs all around the backyard to use when making pizza or chicken or whatever else I might throw in the oven.  You haven’t lived until you’ve had a wood fired pizza with fresh basil on it straight out of your backyard oven.  Unless you’re an astronaut. If you’re an astronaut that trumps eating pizza.  No it doesn’t.  I was just kidding.  Pizza rules.

 

 

 

As does bread.  This shot I must admit has been set up. I actually baked the bread in the oven the day before and just rolled it out for this photoshoot.  But it was cooked in the oven and it did turn out as perfect as it looks.

3 loaves fit in the oven and they took about 2o minutes.

 

 

So every night when I have to do horrible tasks like turn the compost pile or wash the green bin that smells like the death of a thousand rotting monkeys, I still smile.  Because I get to see this.

 

 

If you stumbled upon here by chance, I made that pizza oven. And you can to. I have a 4 post tutorial on how to do it.

For everyone else, I TOLD you it was easy. Once you get past the sore feet, massive ass you build up and straw covered feet you won’t be able to imagine how you even lived without a pizza oven. Even if you don’t like pizza. I mean look at the thing. AND unlike most cottages or swimming pools, it’s 4 season friendly.

Now I suppose you want to see it in action and I can’t blame you for that. I had my mother and Fish Pedicure over the other night and made them pizza. It was their first time eating pizza from my wood burning oven.

Just the three of us lounging by the oven, talking, laughing and having, really, what can only be described as a picture perfect day. The kind of picture perfect day you’re only likely to find on the Instagram or Twitter account of someone who constantly needs you to know how perfect their husband/wife/children/life is. You know the type.

Well now I’m one of them ’cause take a gander at this.

 

Pizza Oven

 

After the bleeding knuckles, the sand in your underwear and the straw covered feet you too can have your own pizza oven. It takes about a month at a leisurely pace working weekends. And THIS is why …

So there you have it.  The perfect life of this little blogger.

If you noticed the crack in the oven (and chances are yours might develop a crack too) don’t worry about it.  It’s a small crack in the lime plaster which expands when the oven heats and closes again when it cools down.  It’s just cosmetic.  You can fix it if you want but you don’t have to.

I hope you liked my little tutorial that lasted for an entire week on how to build a pizza oven.  As I’ve mentioned if it seems like the sort of thing you want to do you need to read my tutorials, buy this book and watch these videos from architect Sigi Koko who specializes in building naturally and specifically cob.  Once you do all those things I think you’ll be fully prepared to build your own oven.

I’m not at all sure how you can become an astronaut.

110 Comments

  1. Bols says:

    Karen,
    It’s beautiful, and I have backyard big enough to make it but the LAST THING I NEED is to eat more pizza!

    Anyway, if I may – I would really like to see a layout of your garden and where things are in relationship to your house. I think your garden is divided into sections, no? at least that’s my impression from seeing pictures here and in Style At Home etc. Maybe you could draw it one day on a paperbag – a rough sketch will do.
    I am sure you can do while you are holding a brush between the toes of your foot and painting of miniature replica of the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel.

    Please & thank you.

  2. Kristin Ferguson says:

    Great video, Karen! I noticed a couple of things:

    You measure your oven temperature at the floor, whereas I measure the heat of the inside of the dome. If you try aiming up at the dome, you will find it is way hotter. You and I probably achieve the same oven temp. Mine is usually about 700 degrees (F) on the floor, and more than a thousand in the dome. How long does it take to bake pizzas in your oven? Mine take about 90 seconds to two minutes.

    I don’t heat soak unless I’m making bread, and I do that after I scrape out the live embers. I bake pizzas with live embers beside them, but I only make bread after I’m done making pizzas, and after I scrape out the fire. Do you find the heat soak makes a big difference?

    Even though my oven has more thermal mass than yours (I built a 4″ thick cob sub-hearth on top of the wine bottle insulation layer and under the hearth bricks), it only takes about 45 minutes to get blistering hot. I wonder why yours takes longer? I would have hypothesized that your oven is still not entirely dried out, but obviously it is since you built it a year ago.

    Here’s where I become a total buttinski: you use a much stiffer dough than I do. If that works well for you, more power to you, but if stretching the dough out is ever a challenge for you, try making a higher hydration dough, make sure it “windowpanes”, ball it into individual pizza portions, and rest it in the fridge in lightly oiled tupperware for at least a day and up to a week (!), and it will offer no resistance when you go to stretch it–it will practically fall into a circle over your knuckles. Ignore me if you are happy with your dough! I teach pizza dough classes, and so I can’t help but make know-it-all suggestions.

    If you would like to see a TRUE obsessive rant about pizza in what can only be called a madman’s pizza manifesto, you will be highly entertained by Jeff Varasano:
    http://www.varasanos.com/PizzaRecipe.htm

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kristin! LOL. K, here we go. I do measure the temp of the dome as well, but for pizzas it’s the temp of the floor I’m concerned about. I’ve started to ignore the heat soak for pizzas as well. 🙂 If I were try to heat it up it might get there by 45 minutes, but it wouldn’t stay hot for tons of pizzas. The longer you heat it the longer it should stay hot. No? And the dough I make usually window panes, but I didn’t let it rest at room temp. long enough for this video and it was definitely stiffer than I like. I’ve always liked this dough, but I’m not opposed to adding more water to loosen it up even more. I make tons of dough and freeze it (so I always have some ready for an impromptu pizza party). I’m happy to get pizza dough tips. Who wouldn’t be, lol?! I’ll take a look at the video now. Thx! ~ karen

      • Kristin Ferguson says:

        I freeze dough for back up. It works so well! I have found that the softer and wetter the dough (to a point!) the better the crust. It comes out light as a feather and crisp, with airy bubbles around the edge. My dough is so soft it is almost more of a batter, until I “turn” it (folding process) and build gluten structure. Curried cauliflower soup sounds delicious.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kristin! Well I’m going to make another batch of pizza dough for a pizza dinner party I’m having on Saturday night. So I’m going to go with a higher hydration dough just ’cause you asked. 🙂 I guess I’ll just make my regular dough with all purpose flour but add more liquid. I’m imagining it to be like a no knead bread dough. Almost goopy. Wish me luck! ~ karen

  3. Jean says:

    You make me want to be a better person. As long as that desire remains unfulfilled, we should get along just fine. 🙂

  4. Marti says:

    Best DIY Post… EVER. Seriously. I don’t get by here as often as I used to, but when I realized you’d show me how to make my own wood-fired pizza oven, I read every post. I am a little confused by one thing you said:

    “Once you get past the sore feet, massive ass you build up and straw covered feet you won’t be able to imagine how you even lived without a pizza oven.”

    What? How do you build up a massive ass? Or is that the result of eating great pizza every night for the rest of life? Totally missed the part where you explained this…

    • Karen says:

      LOL, thanks Marti. It is GREAT. One of the best things I’ve built. So you get the massive ass from stomping and squishing and mixing the cob. It’s a LOT of ass and leg work. Once the pizza and bread making begins the ass turns a bit yeasty. ~ karen!

      • Marti says:

        Wait, you are saying workouts make for massive ass, then? And standing around, eating pizza… your ass gets light and fluffy? Your ass is clearly very different from mine in nature (we don’t need to go further on that) and you have turned away from every day, M-F posts?

  5. gusmom says:

    I love this project and plan to show it to my hubby so we can plan to build one! We have so many projects of various priorities going on though that it will have to get in line.

    Your DIY barn door hardware intrigues me and I would love to see you provide instructions for it!

    And last, I have to tell you that you are an amazing lady and at the top of my favorite bloggers because you are so involved in the continuing conversation. So many write the instructions but never respond to comments or questions. I believe I can speak for all of your followers in telling you how much we appreciate this about you! Thank you for the great inspiration, instructions, and laughs!

  6. I wish you were my neighbor…

  7. You truly do have the perfect life and I just watched the video to prove it! Cheers to Betty! BTW Love your pizza oven. You did a fantastic job on it!

    • Karen says:

      Ohhhhh not perfect. The only people who have perfect lives are those people on Twitter who lie about perfect their lives are. But I’m happy with mine. It’s perfect enough for now. ~ karen!

  8. Keggy says:

    Ok so I found you a while back, put you on as an icon and then forgot. Just played you today after supposed to have left NYC on Monday at 5, sat on Tarmac 3 hrs w/ no food or water then flight canceled due to pilots being timed out and then flight canceled 🙂 then not put up in hotel so I was lucky enough to pay for the $200 airport hotel where my shoes stuck to the bathroom floor and plugging in my charger to the wall only shocked me and broke my charger cell phone remained dead and then was lucky enough to not get my direct flight home the next day but two legs where I had got to be able to move my own luggage around. So after getting to the airport at 6:00 am after leaving it the night before at midnight to pay that $200 for that lovely room next to the chlorine drenched pool which oh, btw, had no working air, I find my flight has been delayed and I won’t make my connection. I’m stopping there. I’m home now Friday but your post just changed my outlook and my day. You crack me up and since we are both karen it’s obvs we’d be besties I am now still chuckling and thinking after I finish my ottom and feather light countertop in the guest bathroom I’m making my own cob pizza oven bc that bread omg that bread. And what pizza cheese do they use in NYC that’s so much better than Houston Texas?
    You TOTALLY ROCK. THANK YOU.

  9. Olga says:

    Karen, what bolts/screws/thignies did you use to attach that sliding door metal panel to the table area? Thanks.

  10. debbie ruiz says:

    Wow, I am so impressed! Great job.. I enjoyed my glass of wine while watching your video:) Hope all enjoy your pizza. Do you have a sauce recipe too?

  11. Jennifer says:

    Great job Karen! The barn door on the stand is an awesome finishing touch. I have pizza envy.

  12. Barbie says:

    OMG! I am PEEEING my pants laughing at your video! HAHAHAHAHA! SO the way it always is for me too! The ONE day it rains is the day I planned an outdoor bbq! The fact that you used this as your demo on your pizza oven is again precisely why I LOVE you! SO REAL!

  13. Jasmine says:

    That was probably my most favourite video post ever. I could have seen myself sitting at the table with Betty and Fishfeet so easily. Until it started to rain. Then I would have been in your pretty kitchen. Hanging out by the moose. Great work Karen!

  14. Thank you! This was great! I would like to ask you how long it took you to build it? I have only a few free hours per day, sometimes none… but I so want to build this!! Hugs
    Chris

    • Karen says:

      Hi Christiane – I wish I could remember how long it took, lol! Honestly, each step takes a few days in total probably. Like it took a couple of days to find my supplies and figure out how I was going to build the base. Then it took a few hours of stomping on cob for a few days/nights until I felt like I had enough to build the oven. (You can premix/stomp on it then cover it with a tarp to keep it moist for a few days). I’d say if you have a few hours a day it would take you about a month and a half to build. That’s allowing all the time that’s needed for the oven to dry in between coats. Just do it! I have a pizza party every single week now, lol! It’s great. Just the most fun thing I’ve ever built. I can’t wait for winter again to bake bread in it. Bread baking out in the snow is just a tinier bit more magical than baking bread in the heat of summer. 🙂 ~ karen!

      • Thank you for your reply! I live in Phoenix, AZ and it’s miserable here during summer. WE had 120F (50C) the whole week last week… I cant wait for fall…It’s going to be a fall project! 😉 I will let you know when it’s done. I will buy the book so I don’t get lost!
        Follow me on facebook if you have an account! Christiane Barbato Sutherland and Blue Door Ceramics! Hugs from Phoenix. Arizona!
        Chris

  15. I remember seeing this post last summer and yes, I did not make a comment. I’m sorry. It’s totally rude to watch a fascinating post and not comment. My only defense was that the kids were home on summer vacation, hubby was working in Hawaii (which made me totally bitter) I was taking two online college classes and preparing to move from Phoenix to Fort Worth. But I’m here now. Better late than never and you can believe I am going to continue scrolling until I reread every cob oven related post. Because I now have a deep seated desire to know what the differences are between a cob and horno oven. Is it merely just regional vernacular?

    • Karen says:

      Sheesh you call that busy? Amateur. 😉 Cob, horno, adobe, beehive … they’re all the same. There may be slight variations in the shape but they’re the same thing. A layer for heat retention, a layer for insulation and the right sized opening to allow smoke to escape. I can’t even BEGIN to tell you how great it works. Way better than a modern oven. ~ karen!

  16. I was searching for ubiquitous globe fixture and a strand of white lights on your blog website, but instead found this video how to build a pizza oven. Your video is hilariously funny, you have the great sense of humor! That pizza oven is so cool too …It’s so great thing to have it and you always can use it for nice crackling fire while entertaining guests!
    Love your Blog! You have a new fan:)

    P.S. can you still direct me please to the outdoor ubiquitous globe fixture and a strand of white lights on your blog website ?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Iryna! I love my pizza oven too! If the weather isn’t too bad I’ll be making a pizza this Saturday night. Welcome to my site and here’s the post I think you’re looking for. Glowing Outdoor Orbs.

  17. Vanessa says:

    I am SO excited!!!! I just convinced my land lords (AKA my Mom and Aunt) to let me build an oven in the back yard!!!!! And there is still enough summer left to get it built this year!!

    • Karen says:

      Excellent! Make sure you get the book I recommend. It’s imperative! It’ll really help you through little technical questions you’re going to have. Have fun, follow the instructions and make it as BIG as you can, lol! ~ karen

  18. Suzanne says:

    Karen,
    What size is your oven?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Suzanne! I’m actually not sure! It’s hard to say because the interior is one size and the exterior is another because it’s so thick. The size of the oven you build really just depends on the amount of space you have. The bigger the oven the longer it takes to heat up but the longer it holds the heat as well. I’m not home right now to measure it but as a wild guess I’d say the exterior is about 3′ across at the base? Maybe a bit more. ~ karen!

  19. Peter Kruckow says:

    Hi Karen, it’s now over 2 years since you built your oven, so how is it holding up to regular firing, are there any major cracks anywhere or all good? There’s a lot of differing opinions on the best type of oven be it cob or brick.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Peter! The cob oven is holding up perfectly! There are cracks on the outside but they are the very same ones that were there the first time I fired it. They open wider as the oven gets hotter. But they don’t reach down below the insulation layer so it doesn’t matter. I’d say the best way to go is with whichever one holds the heat the longest. Brick gets points because it stores heat well, but cob gets points because you build such a large insulating layer around it which retains the heat. So … basically I don’t know which is better, brick or cob, lol. So far so good with mine though, I still love it. ~ karen!

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