My good friend Tony D’Amato offered to build a bread oven in our backyard about 10 years ago. Tony is one of those guys that can do anything – tilework, carpentry, welding, brick laying, plumbing and so we set work to construct the mass that I now bake bread in and did so over a couple of months on evenings and weekends.
I was Tony’s labor – I know that the oven has over 2 tons of fire brick and concrete because I organized, mixed and lifted all that material into place. Tony declined the need for drawings – the entire structure existed perfectly in his head an, upon completion, the tolerances between the brick and support steel structure of only a 1/16th of an inch.
We set the oven up with an burner used to heat pizza ovens and piped in natural gas (Much easier to manage than using a wood fire and cheaper than Propane. An engineering friend helped me how to use a pressure cooker to generate steam (Commercial bread ovens enable the baker to flood the oven with steam when loaves are loaded – the steam helps develop a crisp and chewy crust helps give the loaf an oven spring.)