David Cargo on building portable, stack-brick wood-fired ovens


I bake two to four loaves of hearth bread every weekend. Not a bad thing if you’ve got a family of six, but there are just the two of us and, needless to say, lots of bread is gifted to friends.

So why all the baking? Because I love the fragrance of yeasty dough and the look of dark brown crusts, and the taste of mild French sourdoughs.

Yeah, it’s a bit of an obsession. And given this focus on hearth breads, I, of course dream of using my own wood-fired oven one day. I’ve only dreamed about it because building this type of oven is no small matter. They take up lots of room, can cost an arm and a leg, and take considerable planning and skill to construct.

This Deep Roots Radio interview with David S. Cargo introduced me to another possibility – a portable, stacked-brick wood-fired oven I could build in a day. I can almost see the pita breads puffing up in 90 seconds, the pizzas bubbling and ready to eat in three minutes, and the loaves of bread browning in just 35 minutes!

In addition to being the executive director of the Upper Midwest Bakery Association, a professional baker, and membership director of the St. Paul Bread Club, David is a mavin about wood-fired stoves. He’s got a terrific website filled with information about these ovens, and about community ovens in the Upper Midwest, across the country and around the world.

In this interview, David talks about the three most common types of permanent wood-fired ovens, and about the day-long classes he offers about the portable ovens most of us could construct in our own backyards. This years, he’s offering classes in both Minnesota and Wisconsin. Registration is now open for classes in May, June, August and September.

I hope you enjoy this conversation. [Audio below]