Why build a clay oven?

There are many benefits to owning a wood-fired, clay oven in your garden. I couldn’t live without mine now and, as an advocate, I can’t believe everyone hasn’t got one yet. However, you may need a little encouragement or may even need a little help to convince your partner that it’s a great idea so I have listed just a few of the benefits below.

1. It’s all about the food
If you love food and love cooking then a clay oven will take your experience to another level. If you have never eaten a pizza cooked at 450°C for 1 minute in a clay oven – you have never eaten a pizza! Just imagine a thin, crispy, slightly smoky base covered in hot melted cheese, olive oil, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, dried cured sausage, smoked ham, anchovies…do I need to continue? How about loaves of hot bread cooked to perfection, cracked open and smothered in real butter or a large joint of lamb or pork belly cooked slowly over several hours in the oven’s residual heat and then falling off the bone when you serve it. I think you get the picture. Cooking in a traditional clay oven is wonderful; it feels different and definitely tastes different.

2. Outdoor oven cooking is fun
Who wants to be indoors, slaving over a hot oven, on a warm, sunny day? If you love your barbecue then you’ll love the extra flexibility that cooking with the garden, clay oven provides. Baking alfresco and eating alfresco is fun and communal. On a sunny afternoon gather friends together for a pizza party where they get to construct their own pizzas, choosing combinations of sauces and toppings, before popping them into the oven for a minute or so, eating, sharing then coming back for more. It really is great fun and kids absolutely love it!

3. Your friends will be jealous
Really! Everyone who experiences these ovens wants one for themselves. In fact, I guarantee that once you have built one for yourself you will be called upon at least once to help a friend to build their own clay oven.

4. They are relatively cheap and easy to build
I am no DIY expert (just ask my wife!) and have no previous building experience but I have managed to build several ovens now without any major disasters. If you can build sandcastles then you can build a clay oven. As for cost, well if you are canny you can scavenge, beg or borrow most of the materials for free and even if you have to buy everything your total cost is likely to be no more than £200 (depending on choice of materials and location).

5. The look great in any garden
The oven is the focal point in my garden and certainly the main talking point when I have visitors, regardless of the beautiful flower beds I have planted around it. Made from natural materials, a clay oven will enhance the look of any garden, large or small.

6. You don’t need lots of space
Finally, you don’t need a huge garden in which to construct a clay oven. The base only covers a small area of approximately 1.2m square. You can safely build them near to other buildings because, apart from the chimney and front entrance, the external surfaces of the ovens stay remarkably cool during use.