No bread is an island

...entire of itself. (With apologies to John Donne!)
I live and breathe breadmaking. I’m an evangelist who would like everyone to make his or her own bread. I want to demystify breadmaking and show it as the easy everyday craft that it is. To this end I endeavour to make my recipes as simple and as foolproof as I possibly can.

I call my blog 'No bread is an island' because every bread is connected to another bread. So a spicy fruit bun with a cross on top is a hot cross bun. This fruit dough will also make a fruit loaf - or Chelsea buns or a Swedish tea ring...
I'm also a vegan, so I have lots of vegan recipes on here - and I'm adding more all the time.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013


After a neglectful summer with my chiminea, I had an email from someone asking how I assembled the 'mini-oven' inside the chiminea, to trap the heat - otherwise lost through the thin metal walls of the chiminea.

I replied that I'd go through the process this weekend - and follow through with pizza - taking lots of photos as I went.
And yesterday I did just that!  Here's the story:

I began, as I always do, with a glass of beer:

This is Bombardier, by Wells. I'd been given a selection of real ales for my birthday, and this was one of the two I had left. :( 

To assemble my 'mini-oven', I first of all laid 3 firebricks over the fire chamber
The firebricks are very fragile indeed and almost all of the dozen I bought have all broken in the middle. I think I've only got the one intact. They still do the job, though!
 Then I replaced the middle section of the chiminea over the bricks...

…and began to put the walls of the oven in place

The ones at the back (on the right in the pic) I was able to put directly on the base - whereas the bricks at the side have to go on top of the firebricks. Hence there is a gap over the top of the bricks at the back of the oven.

The bricks on the left hand side of the oven

Over the top of the oven I placed a large ceramic wall tile - and placed a broken one on the other side
To finish it off, I've placed 2 smaller tiles over the front of the roof of the oven

And here it is from the front

Looking in at the left hand side of the oven...

…and the right hand side
Reflecting on how I put the oven together, I put the firebricks comprising the back wall directly on the chiminea base, rather than on the firebricks which make up the floor. I did this to provide more depth to the oven - but I'm wondering if I need this. Next time I'll try placing the back wall bricks directly on the floor of the oven - which would eliminate the 1" gap at the top of the back wall. Hmm… Wondering why I didn't think of that earlier.

However, that job done, I quickly set about getting the fire under way:

For my wife I'm making a potato and cheese pizza, since she doesn't like tomatoes - of any description! While I make my usual vegan pizza.
Just a plain dough - she doesn't care for herbs and spices. 

Whereas I include tomato puree, sun dried tomatoes, stock cube and curry powder in mine

BBQ sauce is spread over the dough, which is covered with sliced cooked potatoes, grated cheese, sliced mushrooms and German sausage

Mine's a vegan pizza, which has a mixture of tomato puree, mushroom pate and pesto spread over the dough, then topped with mushrooms and tomatoes. Finally a sprinkle of nutritional yeast and oregano

Cooking the pizzas:
The pizzas were rolled out before the oven was lit, so I was a bit more organised than I have been previously.

I started with spills of wood - once they were well alight I spread out the fire and loaded it with larger and larger pieces of wood. When these were well away I covered the fire with more wood then filled the firepit with charcoal briquettes. I've taken to using these because they're supposed to burn hotter than charcoal - and I got a couple of bags on offer, anyway! ;)

At this stage I had the middle firebrick (well, half of it) turned on its side so that the heat can get to the inside of the oven - and while waiting for the briquettes to burn at their hottest, I was able to nip inside and put the topping on the pizzas.

I put the first pizza in the oven (after replacing the middle firebrick) - and 90 seconds later, the base was done. Instead of persevering with the top oven, as I've been used to doing previously, with wet hardboard under the pizza, or suspending the pizza over a small roasting dish full of water - all to prevent the bottom from burning - I placed the pizza on a small metal tray which I was able to balance on my small trenching spade, and slid it under the firepit. There was just enough clearance, if I was careful - and another 90 seconds and the pizza was cooked.

I did the same thing with the next two pizzas - in fact I took the second one out of the oven, and started cooking the third whilst I was cooking the top of the second pizza!

So it was a success all round! And, I saved on the briquettes, since I didn't have to use two lots as I've always done before!

Now I can't wait to get out there and do it all again - but the forecast ain't good for the weekend! :(


  1. 🐝Thanks so much! We got perfect pizzas first time in our new chiminea thanks to you. In oven part we put a fire brick either side and roof tiles on base. Also finished off pizzas underneath chiminea. Let fire burn first for over an hour, then added charcoal for much higher temp. 🐛

    1. Thanks for the feedback, Sophie - it's very gratifying that you've been able to replicate my methods!

  2. Pizza topping for us was tomato purée, Zest vegan pesto, chopped onion, watercress, chopped vegan sausage, griddled aubergine, olives, pineapple, grated cheezly. Yum! Will try curried pizza next time :)

    1. Wow! Sounds delicious! Have you tried Meridian vegan pesto? And do try hummus on pizza - quite delicious! Are you on Twitter? There's lots of vegan chat on there. Look for #veganhour, Tuesdays at 7pm here in the UK.

  3. Looks amazing! Cannot wait to try it :-) I just bought my first pizzaoven ( so I am looking for inspiration for all of the pizza' I have to make now!

  4. I like the look of that, Betina!
    Have a look at this WFO pizza forum for ideas.
    Thanks for stopping by!