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Intro from California - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community

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Intro from California

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  • Intro from California

    Hello,
    I tried to post to this forum yesterday, and can't figure out where my post went. Apologies if this is a duplicate.
    I have been wanting to build a wood fired oven for years, and am finally ready to do it. I'm interested in it mainly for bread, but will hopefully use it for most of my cooking. I'm having a hard time settling on an oven, though - is this forum for Forno Bravo oven users only, or would it be appropriate here to ask about the relative benefits of other brands, and/or of Alan Scott designs?
    Thank you,
    Polly

  • #2
    Re: Intro from California

    Okay, I've figured out that there is a bit of a delay between posting and the post getting published.. So I'll combine my initial posting with this other one, and hopefully will be able to figure out how to delete the initial one.

    Here is the initial posting:
    Hello, I am new to this forum - I'm trying to figure out what oven to build for home use, and the more I look around, the more confused I get. I'm mainly interested in bread baking, and would like an oven that retains enough heat that I can do 2 or more bakes in a row using retained heat.
    I started out thinking I'd just follow the instructions in Alan Scott's book, then heard about the FB Pompeii kits, the new Casa100 kits, and the Mugnaini Medio100 kits. I would love to hear what people who do home-scale WFO cooking have, and especially would like feedback from anyone who has built and/or used more than one of these.
    What I'm wondering in particular is why the Mugnaini kits are so much more expensive than the FB ones, and if there is anything noticeably different between them in terms of performance for the kind of cooking I want to do.

    Since I posted this, I've read that the AS ovens take more wood to heat than the kits do, and that they also are better at retaining heat for multiple bakes. Can anyone tell me how the Pompeii stacks up in this regard? And how the Pompeii compares to the FB Casa and the Mugnaini Medio kits?

    If people don't know this information, I'd love to know how you all decided on which oven to build. It seems daunting to me.
    Polly

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Intro from California

      Hi Polly.
      I built a barrel type oven and it suits me fine, I had a castable oven before this one which wasnt as good thermally.
      My latest oven is absolutely brilliant and stays hot for about 1 week with a medium firing (not pizza temps)
      It takes about 2 hours to get to cooking temps using good dry Oz Eucalyptus, but just lately rarely cools down..

      My build is here.
      http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f44/...two-15241.html
      The English language was invented by people who couldnt spell.

      My Build.

      Books.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Intro from California

        Dang, that's a beautiful oven, Al!!
        Thanks for the input. By "castable" do you mean one of the kit-type ovens that come in sections? Do you think there is something intrinsic about those ovens that makes them hold heat for less time? (and maybe they heat up faster, so they're better for pizza rather than bread?)

        Comment


        • #5
          Good morning Polly

          Regardless of the oven you build, its a good idea to remember a few points learned from those who have gone before us and made all the mistakes

          The big idea you want to incorporate into your oven is to control where the heat goes after the fire is out -you did mention bread baking didn't you? A simple idea, yes, but there have been several iterations to get to today's best practices recommended day after day on these forums.

          You want to insulate the floor under the oven very well. You want to insulate the rest of the oven well also. That is to say you want to encapsulate the oven completley in insulation, except for the door opening.

          People here with barrel ovens report excellent pizza cooking results and good performance after pizza for baking breads and other things too.

          I chose the pompeii oven design because the free plans offered here have the bugs worked out of them, AND, this community is suportive and willing to answer even the dumbest questions over and over again. As far as building the oven is concerned, building the dome, after some study and contemplation, is fairly easy. And the oven entry isn't that bad if you plan ahead. Lots of help via words and pictures on this site when you build the pompeii oven.

          In my view, this site is politely biased toward the old fashioned dome ovens and against the others, even the good ones.

          Read the green words below.

          HTH
          Lee B.
          DFW area, Texas, USA

          If you are thinking about building a brick oven, my advice is Here.
          Our One Meter Pompeii Oven album is here.
          An album showing our Thermal Breaks is Here.

          I try to learn from my mistakes, and from yours when you give me a heads up.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Intro from California

            Hi PollyG,

            There is a lot of latitude when building an oven of bricks and mortar. You can choose the size of the finished oven and materials to suit your needs and even modify the insulation and thermal mass requirements. Some choose to add extra thickness to the dome so as to retain heat for a longer period and some choose to add extra insulation, or both.

            A bread oven generally requires a lot of thermal mass so it stays hot for several batches of bread. It may take more wood and time to heat though, that's the trade-off we make for bread ovens. An oven used primarily for a few pizzas doesn't need all the thermal mass and long heating time. However, you can cook a few loaves of bread in a pizza oven and lots of pizzas in a bread oven, so there is a generous cross-over in use.

            A round oven made of fire brick like the Pompeii design can certainly be made with an eye towards baking bread. A little extra insulation over extra thick cladding on the dome and perhaps extra insulation under the hearth and you will have a great dual purpose oven for everything from pizza to breads and roasts, etc. The only real decisions to make are the interior size and exterior features.

            Best of luck,
            Bob

            Here is the link to my oven number 1 construction photos!

            Here is the link to my oven number 2 construction photos!

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Intro from California

              Hi Polly, welcome to the forum!

              There are several stickies you should read in the Newbies Forum that will help you understand the differences and similarities between pizza WFOs and bread WFOs. Here are some of them:

              http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f2/b...-oven-862.html Start reading at post #10

              http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f2/p...-oven-493.html

              http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f2/h...-heat-684.html

              http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f2/w...s-round-2.html

              The Pompeii pizza oven is somewhat more difficult to build than a barrel arch oven, but has some advantages that the threads noted above will explain. If you decide to build a Pompeii, be sure to download and study the free plans available on this forum. If you decide to build a barrel arch oven, there is probably no better example than Brickie's oven thread referenced in post #3 above (note that Brickie is a professional mason - his advice is solid and practical, but sometimes you may need an Australian-American dictionary to understand what he writes ). Regardless of which oven style you choose, this forum is a great home - you will have access to an endless amount of knowledge and friendly help here.

              By the way, every new member's first post is reviewed by a moderator before it gets posted to the forum. This is to help us avoid spammers and other jerks that have no business here. My first post disappeared in to the digital ozone, too. I have no idea what happened to it.

              Good Luck! Bob

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Intro from California

                Originally posted by PollyG View Post
                Thanks for the input. By "castable" do you mean one of the kit-type ovens that come in sections?
                By castable I meant a do it your selfer from bags of refractory concrete.

                I am currently building a domed oven (pictures will be put on the forum after its finished) and I can say a domed Pompeii oven is way harder to build by a factor of about 5 times over a barrel oven.
                The ppl who build the gorgeous domed ovens on this forum must have a lot of patients(sp).
                Last edited by brickie in oz; 07-06-2011, 01:15 PM.
                The English language was invented by people who couldnt spell.

                My Build.

                Books.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Intro from California

                  Originally posted by brickie in oz View Post
                  must have a lot of patients(sp).
                  There were times when I thought I should have been committed.
                  Check out my pictures here:
                  http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f8/les-build-4207.html

                  If at first you don't succeed... Skydiving isn't for you.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Intro from California

                    PollyG,

                    After you get started it all seems to get put into perspective. I don't think it is hard to build a Pompeii oven. Now that mine is done I wonder what all the fuss was about. It's round, its made of bricks and mortar and the hardest part was just getting started. The plans are good and I will "commit" to helping you with your questions.

                    All the best,
                    Bob

                    Here is the link to my oven number 1 construction photos!

                    Here is the link to my oven number 2 construction photos!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Intro from California

                      I think the construction of the simplest dry laid block support stand is more physical labor than building either form of oven. The oven build at least has the challenge of a puzzle. It's also possible to spend more time and expense on even a fairly simple enclosure than on the oven it's self.
                      My geodesic oven project: part 1, part 2

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Intro from California

                        Oh you are all awesome! Stoveup, I will start studying the links - and as for Brickie's extensive info and photos, I've got rellies in Oz, so I'll be right, mate, in terms of the lingo.
                        Lborou and Azpizzanut - the tips about insulation are useful. I was warned by the Mugniani people that some kinds of insulation work, and some don't. Actually, they argued against relying on insulation rather than on really good refractory materials in the oven itself. I think the gist was that some materials soak up the heat and don't do so well radiating it back into the oven. They were, of course, proponents of the material they use in their pre-made ovens and oven kits - and were pointing to the quality of these materials to justify the high price of their ovens - and this is why I was looking for unbiased opinions about the different ovens and kits, to either verify or contradict that theory. Do any of you have experience with those kits?
                        I'm not so worried about the difficulty of building a Pompeii or other oven from scratch - my husband is a farmer, and seems to be able to build anything he sets his mind to, and I'm a potter, and so can find firebrick and such. What I'm worried about is: what if we build an oven from scratch, and then find out later that we built the wrong oven? It's not like we're going to re-do it.
                        Anyway, I'll go ahead and read the Newbies posts, confident you are all here to help me with questions - thanks again!
                        Polly

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Intro from California

                          The best reasons to build a Pompeii oven are its beauty and its function. The hemispherical shape reflects heat evenly over your cooking area. I have only built one oven but I did not find it especially difficult to do. Dmun is right, the building the block stand and structural concrete concrete base are the most demanding part in terms of labor. Now if you want to build a difficult oven- take a look at Dmun's build, truly impressive. Though I think he has stated that if he were to do it again, he would do the Pompeii.
                          Good luck and enjoy the process.
                          Eric

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Intro from California

                            Actually, they argued against relying on insulation rather than on really good refractory materials in the oven itself.
                            Polly,

                            I don't believe the Mugnaini ovens are any better than any other established oven brand since castable refractory is at this point in time, a commodity. Any supplier who argues against insulation is clearly trying to differentiate another feature/attribute of their oven, in this case, their refractory.

                            Dmun, Lee, Bob and Eric all make good points. The principles of oven construction and function are not rocket science, which is a good reason to consider building one instead of buying a precast unit. Unless time is an issue, it is further in your favor to design and construct an oven built to accommodate your cooking preferences. If I hear you right, bread is your primary specialty but you would like an oven with the versatility to cook everything else - appetizers, roasts, soups, stews, pizzas, etc (doesn't everybody?). This sounds like a soundly insulated brick Pompeii would fill the bill nicely.

                            My oven is yet to be completed but I believe all of the gentlemen above would agree with me that the satisfaction of building an oven that will provide years of service far outweighs the convenience of purchasing a precast oven. $.02.

                            John

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Intro from California

                              Originally posted by PollyG View Post
                              Do any of you have experience with those kits?
                              Polly,

                              I have a friend that installed a Mugnaini and another that installed a Forno Bravo. From what I heard and have seen, they pretty much function the same. I personally think that my home built out performs both of them - but I am clearly biased.
                              Check out my pictures here:
                              http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f8/les-build-4207.html

                              If at first you don't succeed... Skydiving isn't for you.

                              Comment

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