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Floor temperature drop-off rate vs. floor-brick saturation - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community

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Floor temperature drop-off rate vs. floor-brick saturation

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  • Floor temperature drop-off rate vs. floor-brick saturation

    Hi all,

    It's been a couple of weeks since I fired, but last night I finally managed to light her up and do some pizza (only 8 to be precise).

    Starting cold, I had my dome (51 in. diameter) clear in about 1:30-1:45 (didn't time it ), and my floor at 850 when I moved my fire to the side **mental note: I have to practice removing the ashes and unburnt coals from the start-up fire sooner (maybe at 1 hr), which were covering the whole center of the oven floor like a blanket.**

    The floor got hot anyway, but I am wondering if there wasn't a true heat saturation throughout the floor bricks. I guess this is the main question....

    After cooking my first four pizzas (leisurely, 'cause I was eating too ), the drop-off in temperature was quite noticable. If I wanted the underside done properly, the cheese on top was burnt "pizza hut" style, which isn't my thing because I'm going for almost neapolitan.

    If I keep a nice big flame licking the middle of the dome from the side, I figure I can control the drop-off. But doing that, then the dome is too hot which will turn out 1:30-1:45 pies, bottom soggy / top nice.

    Any comments from anyone futher down the road? I eventually will have to keep the oven hot in 4 hr shifts, producing, hopefully, many many pizzas in that time for paying customers.

    How do we get the floor hotter that the dome?!? That would be the bomb.... Then I could just lift it up to get a proper finish. The pics are the floor being replaced (2" ceramic fiber board / 2.5" firebrick) after the oven was done. Nasty job, I don't recommend it especially with no help and a low dome!!
    Attached Files
    May your Margheritas be always light and fluffy.

  • #2
    Re: Floor temperature drop-off rate vs. floor-brick saturation

    Ash is very insulating. Assuming your oven is dry and properly insulated, the hearth was not heat saturated. It appears your firing practice is building up too much ash on the floor too early in the process. I would suggest clearing the oven of ash after 45 minutes or so (push the bigger pieces to the side and simply clear the ash then rearrange the big pieces) and add more wood. Your problem is not too unusual and spreading coals back over the hearth for five minutes or so is a normal cure --- but your description suggests your hearth is seriously cold. What temp does it drop to? (And if you don't have an IR thermometer buy one!)

    When you fire and keep the oven fired daily the problem should go away. And there is NO way to make the hearth hotter than the ceiling in a proper oven for heat rises. The hearth will always be 50 to 75 degrees F cooler than the dome. Besides, you don't want it hotter!

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    • #3
      Re: Floor temperature drop-off rate vs. floor-brick saturation

      Thanks Tex,

      I just had a discussion with my business partner on the logistics of shovelling out ash twice a day, and what to do with it in the restaurant environment....

      So you finish clearing the dome with the fire on the side? Your central floor still comes up to temp? At 45 mins I guess I'm about 50% clear.... Once I finish clearing the dome the soldier course clears pretty fast.

      I need to make proper oven tools.... There aren't any to be bought down here... I'm using fireplace stuff. Help me out, I would need a log-handle:
      shovel
      rake (without teeth / flat)
      rake (with teeth, to pull coals without pulling the ash?? Does this damage the floor?)
      metal ash bin
      oh a decent log mover or something
      As soon as I uncover the ash/unburnt coals on the floor, the light up thanks to the fresh air.... If I take them out I guess they'll be red hot. Do you douse them or something? When you say bigger pieces, do you take out the little red coals aslo?

      Man I hate the learning curve...
      May your Margheritas be always light and fluffy.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Floor temperature drop-off rate vs. floor-brick saturation

        In a home oven, the amount of wood needed to fire the oven burns down to a negligible amount of wood ash. Most often this is shoveled out later when it's cold. In a commercial environment there must be a way to separate ash from fire, but I don't know what it is.

        When I need to shovel out a live fire for retained heat baking, I put the coals into a metal trash can. This is outside, so it doesn't matter if it stinks a little. You might want some kind of sealing container if you are working inside.
        My geodesic oven project: part 1, part 2

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        • #5
          Re: Floor temperature drop-off rate vs. floor-brick saturation

          Hi Tenorio...

          It sounds like you may not be fully charging your oven. And...why is your soldier course not clearing with the fire inside??? Sounds like you need to go longer - if 45 minutes as I think you indicate, perhaps 1 hr 15. Your oven is not really "ready" when it clears. The refractory is still absorbing a lot of heat. The temp at the surface is ONLY about 750 and that is on the dome. The hearth will almost always be cooler. Go longer. Get the oven significantly hotter than you want it. I am going to guess you are burning soft wood and that is contributing to your ash issue. Rereading your origninal post you are definitely NOT getting your oven hot enough.

          You need to see an oven in a good operation. With a 51 inch oven you need a good size fire on one side of the oven. You can have a ton of ash on that side and it won't matter. But the side you are cooking on needs to be HOT! 750 to 850 on the hearth depending on flour, hydration, etc. IF you don't have an infrared thermometer the easiest way to guess the temp is throw some flour or semolina on the hearth. If the flour turns black in about 3 seconds (count one thousand one, one thousand two, etc.) the hearth is about the right temp . Your soggy pies are being cooked on a hearth that might NEVER turn the flour black. And...if the flour should turn black in one second it is way too hot and will burn the bottom of the pies. If the time gets much longer than 3 seconds, rake the coals out across the hearth to recharge the cooking area. Then push them back onto the fire side and clean the cooking surface and wait for it to cool some and start testing the temp again. Once you get to the soggy pie stage it may take half an hour to get the surface hot enough.

          Good luck!
          Jay

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Floor temperature drop-off rate vs. floor-brick saturation

            Thanks Jay!

            Just to clarify.... I do have an IR thermometer. Surface temp was about 825 when I moved the fire to the side. Flour blackened in 1 second.

            I let it drop to about 800 and did my pie in about 1:30. But the top got way overdone, bubbling cheese (for some this is ok, I like my cheese just melted).

            My dome clears fine, starts out in the middle then expands out. What I meant is that the soldier course is the last to clear, usually fast once the whole top is white.

            I'd love to see an oven in full operation, but this type of pizzería does not exist down here, and I can't travel anywhere now to see. So I guess it'll just be trial and error.

            OK, floor bricks aren't saturated enough.... I have a big floor. So I'll go longer once I clear the dome. My question is, do you finish clearing the dome with your center (initial) fire, or finish it once you've moved the fire to the side??

            Thanks for your insight,
            Tenorio
            May your Margheritas be always light and fluffy.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Floor temperature drop-off rate vs. floor-brick saturation

              Ten, I don't think you are saturated. Once the dome clears, the fire-brick is only 800F on the interior surface. The entire fire-brick needs to get to that temp. Your 51" floor will take longer to get totally saturated. I have a 60" oven and I take at least an extra hour, after clearing, to get it saturated.
              Our Facebook Page:http://www.facebook.com/pages/Stoneh...60738907277443

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              • #8
                Re: Floor temperature drop-off rate vs. floor-brick saturation

                Wow, an extra hour... Thanks for that Lwood. I'll keep it an hour more on the side - do you finish clearing your dome with the fire in the middle or off to the side?

                Your 60" must consume A LOT of wood (jajaja that's the your nickname expanded - Lot of WOOD).... I think I underestimated my overhead wood costs...
                May your Margheritas be always light and fluffy.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Floor temperature drop-off rate vs. floor-brick saturation

                  Not really that much wood....never thought of it that way...but the Lots-a-Wood handle would be kinda cool... The Lwood comes from the old Blues Brothers days. L is my middle initial and Wood is my last name. I can get my oven saturated with about 2 cubic ft of wood... and I'm not using anything special. Just what I find around the property. But I am finding that is not sustainable for a commercial application. I am going to install a gas burner.

                  I can get to 600F in your standard 45 minutes, but that's just barely getting warmed up. You need to keep a good hot fire going for another hour to be sure. Your 51" should take less time but you will see a big difference in the heat retention time if your get completely saturated.
                  Our Facebook Page:http://www.facebook.com/pages/Stoneh...60738907277443

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Floor temperature drop-off rate vs. floor-brick saturation

                    Next pizza trials I'm gonna fire 1:30 in the middle and 1:00hr more on the side..... We'll see how that helps out. I'm also gonna drop a percent or two on the water content in my dough, to combat the sogginess (and it'll help the pizza tossing!). That should be this week, I'll let you guys know.

                    Thanks a bunch,
                    Tenorio
                    May your Margheritas be always light and fluffy.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Floor temperature drop-off rate vs. floor-brick saturation

                      I usually move my fire to the side when the initial fire becomes coals. About an hour. It seems the dome clears faster with the fire on the side and flames at least up to the top of the dome.
                      Our Facebook Page:http://www.facebook.com/pages/Stoneh...60738907277443

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                      • #12
                        Re: Floor temperature drop-off rate vs. floor-brick saturation

                        Sogginess of the bottom has nothing to do with the hydration of the dough. And soggy dough is far more a function of dough thickness, topping wetness, and the amount of topping. The dough for a wood fired oven needs to be THIN - less than 1/8 inch. 1/16 is okay. If you are doing thick pies you don't really want a WFO. And if you don't want a caramelized top you are not benefiting from a WFO either. If you want a thick pie and a melted, uncaramelized top you need an oven at about 450 to 500 and using a WFO is like using a hammer to tighten bolts. Wrong tool for the job.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Floor temperature drop-off rate vs. floor-brick saturation

                          Thanks for the remarks Jay.... I do realized there are other factors involved, so I'll expand a bit on what type of pies I do...

                          I DO do very thin neapolitan pies (except I don't use 00 flour - too expensive here). I almost always stretch my center very very thin - 1/16 to 1/32 (about 1mm thick I'd say), with a puffed up cornicione. In this WFO learning curve I am only doing margheritas, with a bit more cheese than they do over in Italy (we like every slice to get cheese )

                          When I developed my dough recipe over the last year (before WFO, but using a self-built pizza oven at aprox. 750F), I tried ranges from VPN 55% hydration to about 70%. I finally decided on 65-66%, and sundays pizzas were probably around 67% hydration. I am going to try however going down again, maybe to 60-63%. A drier dough will dry-out faster and resist sauce moisture better, helping me get good char on the bottom (I figure).

                          Anyway I will post back letting you know how it went... I won't mind slightly caramelized if I get nice bottom/rim char. That's my goal... So continues the new learning curve (deep down I knew I'd have to learn to make pizza again once I had my WFO)
                          May your Margheritas be always light and fluffy.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Floor temperature drop-off rate vs. floor-brick saturation

                            If you have thin, sparse pies and you have a soggy bottom the hearth is too cold. There is no other explanation. But that doesn't fit with the story you tell. So???? something has to be wrong. If you have an 850 degree hearth your dough will be cooked in about 70 to 75 seconds. If the top burns before then the flames are too high. Part of the managing a WFO is getting the hearth and the flames/dome at the right temps. Usually they sort of go together but your oven seems very odd.
                            Jay

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Floor temperature drop-off rate vs. floor-brick saturation

                              Jay,

                              I'm not moving the fire to the side until right before the cooking phase. With all the unburnt coals there, it could be the hearth is only just superficially hot, which is why I'm going to try moving the fire to the side -big fire like- during the final hour of clearing the dome plus some.

                              I personally replaced the entire floor with 2.5" firebrick with 2" CF board underneath, so the floor shouldn't be it.

                              My only other doubt would be too much thermal mass above? I have 6" pressed reds with a slight render. My low dome is in the neapolitan style (actually a bit higher at 45cm for my 130cm size), so I hope it's a matter of "fornaio" skill that I have yet to acquire - better fire/heat management on my part, or as I think proper heat saturation in the floor bricks.

                              I have only done pizza twice so far, I am pressed for time to finish the restaurant itself, and my business partner hasn't been the help I expected (lesson learned).

                              Thanks again for your comments (and thanks Lwood also, and those who chip in). They give me ideas and pointers on how to manage these problems. I hope it'll be a faster process when I can fire her up and be cooking pies at least 2-3 times per week.
                              May your Margheritas be always light and fluffy.

                              Comment

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