Peruvian Watia Oven made with Spaded Soil

The impromptu Peruvian oven that is is built in the Peruvian highlands to bake potatoes can easily be adapted to bake bread. While the Peruvian watia dome is heated and then collapsed onto the potatoes, one can use the form to bake bread the usual way.

The Peruvian potato oven is constructed in situ with sod or weedy soil. If your soil has a high clay content then using clumps of soil that are already bound with roots is more or less equivalent to building a cob or adobe oven. I don’t know how big a dome one can build out of sod but if one doesn’t have a weedy field to dig up I imagine the following experiment: seed a prepared bed of clayey soil large enough to construct the dome of an oven that is three feet (1 meter) in diameter with grass and when the grass is well established shovel clumps to build an oven as illustrated below. Continue reading “Peruvian Watia Oven made with Spaded Soil”

Building a Mud Oven with Soil/Concrete

The ovens demonstrated here are based on designs from the Jewish Moroccan community in Israel. They were built at the Jewish Moroccan Museum and Archive for Living Culture at Moshav Sedot Micah, a village in the center of Israel.  There is a profound way in which these ovens are traditional constructions. The ovens are built on the ground, but with the ground elevated so that one doesn’t have to sit on the ground to operate the oven. The same effect could be achieved by excavating a place to stand or sit in front of the oven which was a common system for military ovens in field kitchens.

The oven is built over a pile of manure and straw is used to separate the manure layer from the mud. The mud is made up of sand, soil, and a little concrete, so this is a concrete/earth construction material similar to the material called for the  Sunset Magazine’s Adobe oven (which is three parts soil and 1 part portland cement). The use of a small amount of portland cement greatly simplifies the mixing of the mud as it virtually eliminates the need for any skill in preparing the soil (clay) mix.

These ovens are not insulated. That are designed for making breads with a fire going in the oven which is also why the door opening is much larger than in a conventional European domed oven.


Building a Clay or Cob Oven

This is part 6 of a multi-part video by Kurt Gardella. Kurt is affiliated with the Northern New Mexico College adobe construction program. He offers workshops in building a traditional New Mexican horno. Kurt also offers online workshops.

This is a brilliant video. Anyone interested in building an earth oven (clay, cob, adobe, argile) will find this an invaluable recourse. Kurt refers to Kiko Denzer’s invaluable book, Earth Ovens, during the course of the video. I’d love to post the rest of the series but have so far not been able to find other episodes.