Oven Hearth, Hanging

The hearth design described in Alan Scott’s bread oven plans called for a hanging hearth, where the firebrick cooking floor, the concrete oven hearth and vermiculite concrete floor insulation were literally hung using rebar resting on the oven’s concrete block stand. If that sounds crazy, that’s because it was. Alan was focused on the artisan bread baking market and his users deeply cared about oven efficiency and how much bread they could bake from a single firing. In the days before cost-effective ceramic insulation, Alan’s mad-genius idea was to construct a sandwich of a concrete hearth layer and a vermiculate insulating concrete layer, where neither touched the block stand. I spend countless hours trying to understand how it worked, and eventually got there. Today, we can insulate the bottom of a massive brick barrel vault bread oven, cost-effectively and efficiently, using multiple layers of 2” thick calcium-silicate board insulation.