In mid-December 2015, I gave an earth oven building workshop at Juthour Arboretum. I am thankful that Juthour welcomed me in their space to give my first workshop in my home country Palestine. This oven was built using Kiko Denzer’s technique, of which you can buy a comprehensive guide by clicking here. We built the oven base/plinth with a Palestinian earth building technique that utilizes stones, clay, and short straw. We packed the oven floor with a glass, straw, wood shaving and clay to build an insulation layer to help preserve heat in the hearth/ cooking surface. We placed fire bricks over this layer to provide a baking and cooking surface. This was followed by shaping a dome form, out of sand to support the first layer of the oven.
Our construction mix was made of 1 to 1 clay and course limestone powder due to the unavailability of course sand. The mix performed satisfactorily. I would still recommend using the standard 2 to 1 sand and clay mix, since it’s much easier to work with and can dry much faster. The dense layer is then followed by a 4-inch insulation layer consisting of wood shavings. Due to cold and wet weather, I delayed finishing the last two layers, insulation and plaster, for two months.
After the cold weather passed, I returned with a few workshop attendants to finish the final layer of the oven. To build this layer we mixed wood shavings and clay. This will help the oven retain heat for a longer time and will thus improve its efficiency in cooking. Finally, we plastered the oven with a thin layer of straw and clay.