Building a terracotta pizza oven is inexpensive and rewarding. You can assemble it in a day by yourself. To cook with a clay oven, you light a fire and let it burn for three to four hours inside the oven. Then you remove the fire, insert the food and seal the oven with a door to retain heat. When you are finished, your pizza will have an earthen lightly smoked flavour and crisp baked edges.
Dig a square hole in the ground 10 inches deep, 2 feet wide and 3 feet long. Use a level tool to measure it. Keep it as level as you can, but it does not need to be perfect.
Fill the hole with 6 inches of sand. Lay a brick foundation on top of the sand, keeping the bricks tight against the walls and one another. Tamp them firmly down with your foot. Brush away excess sand.
Coat the bricks with 1/2 inch of terracotta clay. Wait until fully dry.
Make a pile of moist sand on top of your foundation that is 18 inches high.
Cover the pile of sand with damp newsprint.
Packing your terracotta clay around the pile of sand. Do not press the clay too hard into the sand or you will give your oven an uneven shape. Give your clay shell a depth of approximately 4 inches.
Smooth the clay using your hands or a flat object to eliminate ripples and dips in the clay exterior of your oven. It does not have to be perfect. Wait two to three hours before cutting out your door.
Measure the dome and make a mark 11 1/4 inches high for the top of the door. Use a sharp knife to cut a hole 6 inches in diameter directly under this mark at the base. Remove the sand from the interior of your oven.
Cut a semicircle doorway for the oven with a sharp knife. Begin at the top and follow the shape of the dome. Cut the doorway at a slight angle, so you can lean the door against it while you are cooking.
Measure the doorway carefully, then make a terracotta slab to fit it. Let your oven completely dry before use.
For a more effective clay oven, keep the walls even and create a tight seal between the walls of the oven and the foundation. The door of the oven does not have to be shaped perfectly. When cooking with the oven, use a damp towel to seal the edges For added moisture during the cooking of your pizza, soak your door in water before using it with the oven.
Be careful when cooking with your terracotta oven. The sides will be extremely hot to the touch. When removing your door to take out the cooked pizza, always use oven gloves.