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Does Not Having the Dome Insulated Effect Pizza Crust? - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community

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Does Not Having the Dome Insulated Effect Pizza Crust?

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  • Does Not Having the Dome Insulated Effect Pizza Crust?

    I haven't insulated my oven dome yet, but it has been cured and I have attempted about 5 firings now for pizza. What I am noticing is the crust's bottom does not seem to be fully cooking. The oven is burning clear and then some. What is happening is the outside and inside of the crust is perfect, but the bottom has some small brown spots and it tends to be very soft and flimsy.

    I'm trying to factor in what is causing this. Could it be that not having the oven fully insulated is hurting the bottom of the crust's performance?
    Journal of My Oven's Progress

  • #2
    Re: Does Not Having the Dome Insulated Effect Pizza Crust?

    Do you know what temperature you are cooking at? How long? What style pie are you trying to make? I ask all this because what you describe sounds like a traditional high heat(900F+) 60 second pizza. The traditional style is only kissed by the oven as they say in naples, and the center never really cooks through. It is always flimsy and floppy in the middle. Many people are after a different style and do things to achieve that, the biggest being lowering the temperature to 700-750F and cooking for a longer period. This yields a stiffer, more american style crust.

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    • #3
      Re: Does Not Having the Dome Insulated Effect Pizza Crust?

      I think you may be looking at the classic insulation-under-slab problem. You may have real problems getting a balance between dome and floor heat with the support slab bleeding the heat away, no matter how much wood you burn.
      My geodesic oven project: part 1, part 2

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      • #4
        Re: Does Not Having the Dome Insulated Effect Pizza Crust?

        Originally posted by dmun View Post
        I think you may be looking at the classic insulation-under-slab problem. You may have real problems getting a balance between dome and floor heat with the support slab bleeding the heat away, no matter how much wood you burn.
        I thought this but I easily cooked some onions, peppers and mushrooms after tonight's pizzas and the iron skillet immediately heated up with sizzle. I am indeed fearful of this as I started my oven the Alan scott style and did not go back an add board to insulate.

        Originally posted by shuboyje View Post
        Do you know what temperature you are cooking at? How long? What style pie are you trying to make? I ask all this because what you describe sounds like a traditional high heat(900F+) 60 second pizza. The traditional style is only kissed by the oven as they say in naples, and the center never really cooks through. It is always flimsy and floppy in the middle. Many people are after a different style and do things to achieve that, the biggest being lowering the temperature to 700-750F and cooking for a longer period. This yields a stiffer, more american style crust.
        This may be it because tonight I cooked the pizzas much further away from the flame so that it had more time to bake. Still, the bottom did brown some but it was as you said, "flimsy" in the middle. I don't mind it, but my wife isn't crazy about it. My son, who has been unhappy with the bottom, did say tonight's was much better.

        Maybe next time I'll try a lower heat and even further away from the flame.
        Journal of My Oven's Progress

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        • #5
          Re: Does Not Having the Dome Insulated Effect Pizza Crust?

          If I am reading this correctly you currently have no insulation over the dome and you have a Alan Scott style hearth with the support slab over the insulation? I also gather you have no way of taking temperature readings? I am now also leaning toward the idea your hearth may not be very hot and that is causing the issue.

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          • #6
            Re: Does Not Having the Dome Insulated Effect Pizza Crust?

            Hey Dave,
            Here are my observations after 4 months of cooking pizzas. With a big roaring fire the top of the pizza gets done really quickly and the crust is not crispy. During parties where I am cooking 15-20 pizzas the hearth doesn't cool down as the fire does and I tend to get crispier crusts. I have a FB remote thermometer with the thermocouple mounted about 4" above the hearth. My best crusts come out when the oven temp reads about 650 and the hearth at 725-750. If you need the top done a little more then hold it up in the top of the oven on the peel for 20 seconds and everything bubbles and sizzles just perfect. Try waiting a little longer before you cook after the dome clears, and easy on the tomato sauce.
            A $25 HF infrared thermometer helps to figure out the temp profile that works out to your tastes.

            Good luck and enjoy the learning curve

            Eric

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            • #7
              Re: Does Not Having the Dome Insulated Effect Pizza Crust?

              If your oven is still fairly new it is possible that the floor and under the floor still contains moisture which will lower the temp. More firings may improve the situation although with no insulation under the floor this is more likely the cause in which case you're stuck with it unless you can remove the floor bricks and put in some insulation.
              Kindled with zeal and fired with passion.

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              • #8
                Re: Does Not Having the Dome Insulated Effect Pizza Crust?

                Thank you everyone for your responses. Yes, the bottom of the hearth has the concrete slab and is insulated underneath, and I'm not canceling out that this is much of my issue. Eric mentioned that it's a learning curve, and I'm sure that is currently the majority of my challenge. For instance, it was just last night, after 4-5 earlier tries, that everything was in order and timed so that I had a good fire and the preparation station was organized so that pizza production was possible.

                I think I'm rushing perfection. I also think I need to bite the bullet and purchase a digital thermometer. I told myself I want to go about it a more natural way, but getting the thermometer will help in determining temp and knowing where I need to be for the right pizza.
                Journal of My Oven's Progress

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                • #9
                  Re: Does Not Having the Dome Insulated Effect Pizza Crust?

                  Hi Dave!

                  I have the Scott base (insulation under slab) because I wanted the extra mass for bread baking. Your problem is clearly either water in the slab (not dry yet - it takes a good while to dry out a Scott base) or inadequate preheating. I use big fires and can do pizza in 45 minutes. However, at that level of preheating, the hearth will not be fully charged and will cool relatively rapidly and require recharging about every 20-30 minutes (rake coals out and let the heat soak in, then rearrange/clean the hearth and go again. At about 1 1/2 to 2 hours of preheat the hearth is fully loaded and I don't find I need to recharge it stays cooking hot.

                  NOTE: Every oven is a bit different and your times could easily be different from mine. But I will bet your problem is primarily that the slab is still wet. And GET THE INSULATION, AND WATERPROOFING ON THE DOME or it will get soaked every time it rains! And you will have to go through a number of fires to dry it out every time!

                  There is IMO no great need for a thermometer. If the dome clears and you fire for another ten minutes or so and keep a decent fire going your dome should be in the 800 degree range and the dome will be fine. The hearth is IMO best tested with semolina. Simply toss a quarter teaspoon on the hearth and count (one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three, etc.) The heart is at the right temp when it the semolina suddenly turns black at the count of three (two is okay and four is okay but shorter is too hot and longer is too cold). But if you want a thermometer (good for bread) buy an infrared thermomoeter.

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