While many might think that an outdoor clay oven is a bit Medieval, for Kevin and Donna Philippe-Johnson, their homemade $100 clay oven helped them through some tough financial times. The couple turned this self reliant baking technique into a modest business. When Kevin Phillippe-Johnson lost his job, he and his wife built an outdoor clay oven and learned to bake bread the old world style. Using the book Build Your Own Earth Oven by Kiko Denzer, the couple was able to build the oven themselves and take advantage of this naturally sustainable and inexpensive method of baking bread. Not to mention the fact that the bread is crusty on the outside and moist and delicious on the inside. Today Kevin and Donna make a modest extra income baking bread for family friends and for the farmers' market. They also produce an instructional Vintage Bread and Blues CD.
Baking with a Clay Oven
The oven was constructed using cinder block, clay, sand, and hay together costing $100. Now the couple bakes in the oven about twice a week making about eight loaves at the same time. The oven only requires a few chunks of wood to run and the bread bakes using three forms of heat: radiant heat from the clay, convection from the movement of steam, and conduction from the bread hearth. The oven holds heat for 10 hours after baking even in the midst of winter so it can be used for cooking other foods when the bread is done.