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I rec'd a very good email from a Casa100 owner and serious bread baker. Good information on firing, and loading your oven. Here goes.
"Well, I finally got it right! I heat soaked the oven for about two hours. I made about 13 pounds of loaves and that was enough to get the humidity up in the oven AND I finally actually put the loaves in early enough - with the floor temp at about 550. And it went very well. My slashing could have been a bit better but the color and such are very good - different from the cloche, butvery nice. I can live with this.
My earlier attempts had always involved too few loaves, ususally put in the oven too late. I was pretty confident I knew what it would take to get good results. NOTE: It is not that my other bread was bad. It tasted great. But I have a reputation to uphold - including having Peter Reinhart declare my breas superb so I am pretty critical about how it looks.
This is a good omen. My next test will have to be to see how the temp bounces back and to do two batches.
I don't have any desire to go full time commercial, but I had found a 75 minute burn didn't really load the oven enough to make bread. My 90 minute fiirings were okay but I still felt the temp was falling off too fast. Knowing what the profile is is important to me since I expect to do this again and I want to know whether I need to add another inch of refractory cement to the outside or not."
I find this discussion very interesting as I got interested in a brick oven based on bread baking. I too have found that when I fire "just for bread" I do not get it hot enough for the long haul. But when I have been making pizzas for an hour (meaning that I fired for around 1 hour and made pizzas for 1 hour), my heat lasts much longer.
I have a pompei oven and I added a decent amount of refractory concrete on the outside of that (probably 1 inch).
I've found that it's best to overheat than underheat. I usually give my oven 90+ minute burn with apple or almond wood before making pizzas. That gives enough heat for several pies before it starts to cool significantly. I like to see it pegging at about 500+ degrees on my digital thermometer. (In Argentina, before the digital age and even today, temperature is tested by tossing in a wadded-up newspaper. If it bursts into flames the oven's too hot. So much for hi-tech!)