Your Brick Oven – Building It & Baking In It

With a forward by the formidable Australian cookery expert and author, Maggie Beer, and an endorsement by the legendary, late Rose Gray of The River Cafe London, Your Brick Oven – Building It & Baking In it calls out to every man or woman who fancies their very own brick oven in their house or garden.

Maggie Beer calls it a book that includes all the points that other ‘How to build brick ovens’ books miss out.  Rose Gray believes, “with the help of Russell’s book, you can build a wood-fired oven in your own back garden, without huge expense, giving you an exciting new way to cook outdoors.”

Russell Jeavons, an Australian restauranteur and builder (of at least four brick ovens) writes passionately about these ovens used in his own restaurant in Willunga, giving us aspiring builders simple but concise instructions on how to achieve our own dream oven.

So what does the book contain?  Great photographs, which take you straight to an Aussie house and garden (or ‘backyard’), along with Russell’s introductory philosophy of how these ovens take us right back  to the beginnings of ‘cookery’ using natural materials and ingredients.

There are literally step by step instructions in the separate sections for Building Your Oven, The Base, The Dome, The Flue, The Insulation Cavity and Firing Your Brick Oven. Line drawings and photos make it look so simple that even I began to convince myself that I could have a go.  And Russell’s explanatory notes and tips that go with the drawings make so much sense, even to me.

In the section Firing Your Brick Oven, Russell tells and shows us how he uses copper pipes wound around the dome of his oven then links the pipes to his hot water system. In these days of fuel companies driving us all to penury this seems like a good idea.  (Mind you, in England those Health and Safety officers would have something to say about this!)

Staying with ways to save on fuel, Russell takes us through the logical sequence of using all the strengths of heat temperatures to cook dishes that could feed a family for days.  For instance, when the oven has achieved its hottest temperature, this is perfect for grilling steaks or fast roasts, kebabs, roasted vegetables and pizzas, then when slightly cooler, it’s perfect for a batch of bread, cooler again, for casseroles (even left in overnight if you want), puddings or pies, then as the temperature drops away to gentle, custards, meringues etc will cook gently.  This makes so much sense, in these days of spiralling fuel costs – just think, cook while you sleep.

Cooking in your Oven contains a brilliant section on Preparing your Oven for Baking Bread. Such in-depth instructions are welcome to all us brick or clay oven users.  The hints and tips, such as how the oven works better filled with loaves, to create a steaming effect, and the technical reasons why our loaves become flat, don’t rise or are heavy, plus he mentions that wonderful moment when you think your loaves are ready, hopefully golden, and sound hollow when tapped on the base.

The recipe section includes bread, pizza dough and pizzas, Roast Chicken and English Pan Gravy, Fritatta, Greek Meatballs, Baked Snapper with Leeks and Olives,and all manner of desserts, including Chocolate Cake with Poached pears, Creme Caramel, Apple Strudel, Fruit Tarts and Almond Meringue.  Sufficient to give the new brick oven owner a chance to try every form of cooking in the new oven.  I, myself, am looking forward to trying out all these recipes, and will report how I get on.

To sum up, Your Brick Oven – Building It & Baking In it, is a glossy textbook with evocative photos, written by an expert brick oven builder who imparts a great deal of useful information for both building and using this most natural form of cooker.  Just writing this review has made me want to go outside and fire up my oven and cook great food, and I must admit, I have learned a lot from this book myself.  Can I say more?

Click here for more information and to buy.


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