Ovens out on the road again!

The portable oven's been on the rampage again, this time back at Crosby Ravensworth for their seasonal food market.

I have felt over the past season that the oven could perform better than it has been doing and to try and improve its performance I thought I would try and increase its insulation efficiency - sand takes far too long to dry out before being useful and is very heavy to carry from venue to venue. I resolved to try something else - Perlite.

It has improved matters beyond my wildest expectations, so much so that pizzas have merely to look at the oven before crisping and preventing the complete structure from bursting into flames has proved difficult. You will all be aware that the oven is a portion of discarded oil drum set upon 24 ex-storage heater bricks within a wooden box.

On the trial run of mk 2, improved version, I managed to char away the front of the oven, above and around the door. This was solved. At the above venue, no charring was observed, the oven got very hot and pizzas cooked in under a minute.

However, when I returned 18 hours after the last firing to pack it away and take it home I found the base of the oven still very warm - this with the door open all the time. The bricks in the middle of the oven floor were too hot to handle without gloves and hey presto, when I got down to the 'box' floor, it was charred away in a small area. Back to the drawing board.

Today, saturday 30th July I've been demonstrating bread making at the new cob oven at The Watermill, Little Salkeld, a most attractive looking piece of kit, complete with stone flag roof to keep it from the weather and provide shelter for the baker, fireman etc. The oven, built by Niall Wildewood with help from Sarah Clarke, drew lots of admiring comments and 24 attenders on the mill farm walk and bread making demo went home with a warm bun baked in the oven.

Back tomorrow with pizzas and yeasty stories.

by Peter Dicken

Photos of the protable oven at Crosby Ravensworth

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