We make maple syrup by tapping neighborhood trees every year and boiling the sap down in our driveway on a make-shift cinder block fireplace. This year our syruping partner Lin suggested that we try using the fire to cook while we sat around all day drinking rum and watching the sap boil; a kind of high achieving slothfulness. My husband Michael had the idea that we could build a pizza oven into the bottom of the firebox and made some adjustments to our basic and ever-shifting fireplace construction accordingly.
First he built the usual base for the fireplace out of sixteen 2” x 8” x 16” patio pavers laid on top of cinder blocks.
Next he laid cinder blocks around the edge of the base. He asked a friend if he could borrow eight steel right-angle posts that he saw lying around in her barn. Each is four feet long. He used those to create the supports for the roof of the pizza oven. He used one at each edge of the oven and three sets of two wrapped together in heavy aluminum foil across the middle of the roof of the oven. The supports have to be steel because steel won’t buckle under the intense heat of the boil.
He placed a covering of aluminum foil under the edges of the pavers that make up the roof of the oven because we did not want ash to fall down from the fire onto our baking pizza.
He laid 12 patio pavers on top of the steel bars to form the roof of the pizza oven and the floor of the firebox. The resulting hollow space “oven” was 4 inches tall; tall enough to slide in a pizza.
After the oven was constructed, we built our normal jerry rigged cinderblock fireplace on top of it. The photo below shows the opening to the pizza oven underneath the fireplace.
We placed our pizza stone in the oven, and “closed” the opening to the oven with two patio pavers. We then built a fire in the hearth, which rested directly above our pizza oven, and went about our business of boiling sap for hours.
In mid-afternoon, once the fire was good and hot, Lin brought over a pizza she had assembled at home. We removed the door, used a pizza peel to slide the pizza onto the stone, put the door back on and left it for about 20 minutes. The oven was a little cool for pizza, so we put it back in for another ten minutes, and then removed it with the peel.
Eureka! Pizza! We felt so accomplished.