Sable Springs

The Dragonfly Den Project - (2009-2012)

As schedules permit, Mike moves out to his garage prep room to make large, hand-mixed batches of bread dough once a week and then fires up the wood fired oven (WFO) for baking. With friends joining in to use the oven (and also contributing time, good cheer, snacks, quality home brew, wine, and "additional dough"), between 16 and 24 loaves of bread are produced during each normal 2 to 3 hour bake session. In appreciation of their help and support during this ongoing WFO project, friends and neighbors receive most of the freshly baked loaves after each session. Friday afternoons have become a wonderful time to try out new foods (& drinks) with two other couples from the neighborhood and we have dubbed these special times as meetings of Club Dragonfly. Below are some construction photos of The Dragonfly Den and the WFO it contains. The firebrick WFO (now named DD after The Dragonfly Den) is a modified Pompeii dome based on the free plans available at FornoBravo --my modification was an outward angled "beavertail entry"-- DD has a 39" hearth diameter, 20" internal dome height, and a max depth of 45".

Initial block layout. The "Y" configuration of blocks seemed the most efficient way to support the top slab and to create bays for two carts. Insulated oven base on poured slab. Firebricks placed in future position for opening. Ash slot is the gap between the raised, insulated oven base and the two bull-nose bricks in front. Mark setting the angled hearth bricks on sand capped, insulated oven base. Straight firebricks are placed at the entry to the oven chamber.
Second course of firebricks being mortared into position. Note the sweeping wall curve as you move towards the front of oven. The intent was to eliminate sharp inside angles which would impede sweeping the hearth ashes into the front ash slot and container. Mark setting cut firebricks into the back of the modified Pompeii style dome. Plastic bags filled with sand were placed on top of a styrafoam platform and then covered with more sand. The smoothed, top sand acted both as an internal dome "reverse mold" and provided support for the remaining firebricks as they were mortared into place.
Final keystones cut and mortared into place. The Pompeii/igloo style dome is no longer just a dream. Cleaning up the inside of the dome and seeing how big of a turkey could be placed in the oven. Next, a thick layer of insulation (5 parts perlite:1 part cement) was mixed and applied to the exterior of the dome for insulation. Space for the chimney flue pipe was created between two brick arches laid about nine inches apart. The ash slot shows between the front bricks and oven hearth entry pad firebricks.
Finished oven front and chimney support. Two flue tiles were cut at an angle and mortared together to produce the lower chimney section. A rectangular eight inch flue pipe section with a cap was set in place for the oven's fire curing phase. Jerry designed and built the patio enclosure for the wood fired oven. Mike just tried to pound the nails in as needed. Framed up, plywood on the roof, and Susan's French doors hinged into position.
The Dragonfly Den stained, roofed, and screened. Inside, the insulated oven's exterior dome was covered with bricks cut lengthwise. The facade of half bricks gave the oven a "brick oven" look at half the weight. Left cart set up for pizza prep and party time. Carts were built by JC, a student of UCC's welding class, as his term project. Thanks to JC and Ian for all the metal work and dragonfly cutouts on the carts. Thanks especially to Ian for the gift of the light-weight cooking door--it's fabulous! Right cart is for wood storage below and a pizza cutting board/serving station on top. Upper surface is large enough to provide cooling rack space for 15-20 loaves of bread.

Photo group--clockwise from left

1) Mike and Susan with a load of fresh baked bread.

2) Completed Dragonfly Den oven with heavy, insulated oven door in place and light cooking door on left side platform.

3) Completed oven with both bay carts pulled out.

4) Completed oven with both carts pushed into bays.

5) The Dragonfly Den's first Thanksgiving day turkeys-2010.

6) Neighbor Diane's Seedy Barley Bread baking in the oven.

7) Light cooking door in place showing off the dragonfly ornament handle.

The Dragonfly Den Project continues: 2011-??? Finishing DD (the oven's name...from Dragonfly Den) and putting her to work.

Great neighbor Jamie doing tiling to complete DD's new look. Travertine and cut end pieces, ready for grouting. Wow, it really turned out fabulous...Thank you Jamie!
Carts and ash dump (now on rails) back in place. Carts extended for a bake. Prep on the left, cooling & wood on right. Mike and his 1,000th loaf (10 May 2012).


For great service, quality pizza tools (like my banjo peel in our picture above), and a wide variety of other wood fired oven baking accessories & information - check out Frankie G's web site

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Sable Springs Links to Home to our Travels or to some of our Bakes