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how many coals? - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community

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I'm Peter Reinhart! Ask Me Anything! Monday, February 15, 2016 7:00-8:00 pm EST

To kick off our AMA feature, we have invited author, chef and master bread maker and host of Pizza Quest, Peter Reinhart, to be our first host! Peter will be in the Forum on Monday, February 15th, from 7:00 - 8:00 pm EST. If you are unable to be online during the live session, you can post your questions in the sticky post. Peter will answer those questions during the live session on February 15th. You can view Peter's answers to your questions as well as what happened during the live session in the session thread.

Ask Me Anything New Forum Feature

You will notice a new forum at the top of the main page called, "Ask Me Anything". This forum will be used for live one hour "Ask Me Anything" (AMA) sessions hosted by people who are knowledgeable in different areas pertaining to wood fired ovens. How it works:
- Each AMA will have a "sticky" thread where the community can post questions they would like answered during the live session. This will allow everyone to participate even if you can't be online for the live session. These questions will not be answered by the host until the live AMA; if you need an answer quickly, you should post it in the appropriate Forum area for the community to respond.
- Another thread will be posted for the live AMA. Registered users who are logged in during the live session can interact with the host by asking questions and receiving responses.
- The live thread will remain in the AMA forum to view after the session.

We hope you enjoy this new feature! Please let us know if there is a topic that you'd like to have as an AMA and we'll look for a host!

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how many coals?

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  • how many coals?

    I had my fist wood oven experience yesterday.

    at a local community garden (Glandore)

    the learning curve is steep.

    the person who fired the oven had a pile of coals that was about 30 cm tall and was all the way across the back of the oven.

    they had the door removed.

    while some fire would be needed to make up for heat loss.

    the amount of coals was more than I expected.

    did they have more coals than they needed.

    the cooking seemed harsh with the top cooked and the bottom raw

  • #2
    Re: how many coals?

    The amount of coals doesn't sound totally excessive if it is a larger oven. Based on the coals being at the back I'm going to guess this is a barrel vault oven?

    The issue could be multiple things.

    The first thing that comes to mind is that the oven was not properly fired, the open flame cooked the top, but the heath was not up to temperature and hence the bottom was uncooked.

    My second guess would be that this is an Alan scott type oven with the structural layer above the insulation and the hearth does not get as hot s a true pizza oven which led to the undercooked bottom.

    My last idea is that the oven was fired and performing fine, and the type of pizza this style of oven produces at high temperature isn't your thing. Traditional neapolitan pizza cooked on a 900F hearth in under a minute is going to be wet, soft and pliable. If you expect your pizza crisp you might think this is raw.

    My best advice would be to try and find a way to measure the temperature of the ovens hearth next time you have a chance.

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    • #3
      Re: how many coals?

      it is a round dome type oven

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      • #4
        Re: how many coals?

        To measure floor temp cast about a 1/4 tsp of semolina flour onto the centre of the oven. It should go black in 3 secs if the temp is right. 4 secs= not hot enough, 2 secs = too hot
        Old Italian trick, no need for fancy infrared guns or thermocouples.
        Kindled with zeal and fired with passion.

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        • #5
          Re: how many coals?

          First, if the bottom and top don't cook properly in the same amount of time, the less cooked side is TOO COLD and needs to be hotter. (IF the top and bottom are done but the interior or lower toppings are raw the pie and toppings are wrong for the oven temp!)

          There is another potential problem to this description though. You want FLAMES in a WFO when cooking pizza and coals as I define them don't have much flame. You need pieces of wood IMO to give appropriate flames.

          Your description clearly suggests the oven was not well managed for sure (hearth temp improperly managed - and probably improperly fired such that the hearth never got hot enough to begin with.

          The oven was almost certainly way cold for WFO pizza.

          The semolina test is a very accurate and easy test that is quite reliable. If the hearth is hot the bottom will at least cook. And the dome temp can be controlled with wood/flames.
          Last edited by texassourdough; 03-22-2012, 08:23 AM.

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