Masonry Ovens have been built in American homes since the first colonists landed here. Oven traditions date back much further-at least to Roman times. Now you can have an authentic brick oven in your home or backyard.
Cooking in a masonry oven requires some experimenting. A fire is built in the oven and stoked until the fire is heated sufficiently. When the oven is ready, food is cooked right on the hot firebrick floor.
Wait at least 24 hours after construction of the oven has passed (this will allow insulation to dry). Build a small fire to break-in the oven. Try to build up the temperature inside the oven at a rate of 50 degrees F per hour up to about 500 degrees F. The break in fire will drive out any moisture, cure the refractory mortar and minimize the chance of damaging the oven.
To build a cooking fire, start with a small kindling fire in the front of the oven tunnel, under the flue. Add wood when the fire is burning well, and gradually move the fire back into the oven. You can use the oven door to regulate the air flow (when you are not adding wood) but take caution not to block off the flue. As the oven heats up to “Cooking Temp” you will notice the carbon build-up along the walls and dome, causing them to turn black. An expert tip: Once the walls and dome of the oven turn back to clean white, the oven is ready to cook!
***NOTE: The dome of the brick oven is likely to crack. Cracking of the dome and sidewalls is not structurally hazardous, and is necessary for natural expansion and contraction of the masonry, which will occur during extreme heat fluctuations.