Before one can use a cob oven (cob meaning earth or in this instance clay, sand, water and a smattering of straw) there is the necessary–and often long–drying period. The cob needs to dry (outside and inside) and harden, forming a kind of mud brick before the oven is usable. Because we used a sand form during the Fort’s Beehive Oven rebuild, drying takes even longer. Over several week the oven dried in the sun (mostly sun) and bit by bit the sand upon which the oven was formed was removed to reveal the OVEN.
Then a series of small fires were built in the oven to help the drying process and to burn off any of the newspaper that remained (wet newspaper was used atop of the sand form the keep the cob from sticking to the sand).
The first official firing of the Fort’s Beehive Oven took place during our 2014 French and Indian War encampment. 18 two-pound loaves of bread were produced. Lovely, heavy, moist, delicious loaves.