HOT BREAD AND CLAY: BUILDING CLAY OVENS – CLOAM OVENS

I have always hankered after a clay oven ever since I first saw one of the West Country cloam ovens. We bake our own pizzas regularly in the kitchen and it would be great to make our own bread. There is a pile of firebricks out back and plenty of clay. We keep talking about it…

A couple of years ago we explored Northern Spain and took a battered copy of Llorens Artigas’s Spanish Folk Pottery with us to see if it would act as a guide. It was published in 1970 and Artigas periodically suggests that the potteries can’t survive much longer. It was surprising then to find that many of the wares were for sale in local markets and shops. In Benia de Onis (Asturias) we met the mother of potter Miguel San Juan Peñin in the market selling familiar pottery (in the book pages 89-93). Their pottery is in Jiménez de Jamuz near León about 100 miles to the south. She was selling their pots and cooking dishes that we recognised as from Pereruela, famous for its clay ovens (83-85). Pereruela is at the southern edge of León near Zamora and the Portuguese border. She was dismissive of the Pereruela ones and offered to supply one made by her son. Too far and too heavy were our excuses, sadly. The Pereruela potters have various films of them making on their websites eg this one from Alfareria la Fabrica.

 

There is a more detailed film of Portuguese clay oven making on YouTube, annoyingly unidentified.

When we were kiln-building at the Plimoth Plantation in Massachusetts we met Paula Marcoux who has become more and more interested in clay ovens and cooking with them. Her website has all sorts of good stuff on it including lots of photos of her ovens in various stages of making and use The Magnificent Leaven. After a recent conversation with her sparked by The Bickley Book I have started building…

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