[Sca-cooks] terracotta dome ovens vs. mass ovens

Stefan li Rous StefanliRous at austin.rr.com
Fri Jul 4 00:32:38 PDT 2008

Bear said:

<<< What Dragon is describing is closer to the Athenian cloche ovens  
than the
Egyptian bread molds.

The Athenian oven is a terracotta dome on a flat terracotta base.  The
Egyptian bread molds were made of two terracotta cones (probably  
joined and
sealed at the base by a little mud) about 30 inches overall length  
and 18
inches in diameter.  These were seated in a group of indentations and a
charcoal fire built around them. >>>

I note that Bear said *and a charcoal fire built around them*. I also  
noted this when looking at the pair of websites which someone else  
pointed to.

This is a key difference between the large, domed, "mass" ovens we've  
previously talked about. In the pure, mass oven the great mass of the  
oven is heated up first, the coals are removed and the residual heat  
in the stone/other mass is what bakes the food. In these terracotta  
ovens, while you probably want to heat the terracotta up first before  
adding the food, you still need to keep some coals around the oven to  
continue to provide heat. The terracotta is there primarily to smooth  
out the temperature variance, both in time and around the oven, not  
to act as a mass to retain the heat. In this way, this type of oven  
is in many ways closer to a modern oven heated by gas or electricity  
than a mass oven, which has a declining temperature rather than a  
steady or varying one. It is also more likely to be more prone to  
temperature spikes and hot spots, depending on how well the fire is  
tended, than is a mass oven.

Perhaps this is obvious to everyone, but I thought I'd highlight it  
just in case it isn't.

THLord Stefan li Rous    Barony of Bryn Gwlad    Kingdom of Ansteorra
    Mark S. Harris           Austin, Texas           
StefanliRous at austin.rr.com
**** See Stefan's Florilegium files at:  http://www.florilegium.org ****

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