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  • cleaning ash before cooking

    Hello,

    I've just tried cooking pizza in my new brick oven, and, considering it was my first time, nothing turned out completely disastrous, but I did have some problems with black ash on the floor making the bottom of my pizzas dirty. How do I clean the floor after the burning woods have been moved to the side and right before the pizzas go in so that the center of the oven will be clean enough? Some of my woods today were turning white, but I still had some black ashes that got smudged onto the floor...

    Thanks in advance!!

  • #2
    Re: cleaning ash before cooking

    After I have moved all the coals to the sides I blow the ash of the floor. I use a 2m long 10mm aluminium tube with one end slightly flattened. Start at the front and blow the ash towards the fire. This way I can even get all ash out of the corner at the sides.

    The tube is also usefull for blowing on the fire if it is slow to get going and you don't get your eyebrows singed or a face full of smoke.
    Paul

    Deficio est nusquam tamen vicis ut satus iterum
    (Failure is nothing but the opportunity to start again)

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    • #3
      Re: cleaning ash before cooking

      I use two tools to clean the floor for pizza.

      The local 'Cash and Carry' store sells brass bristle brushes that are intended to brush the floor of pizza ovens. You can get similar tools from Forno Bravo to brush the floor clean.

      Like Alter Ego, I built a tube to concentrate air and blow the ash off the floor, after the brushing. Although built from different materials (search this forum for 'blow hard bellows') the air through the tube is a great tool for helping with the fire, and cleaning the floor of the oven.

      JED

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      • #4
        Re: cleaning ash before cooking

        I'm wondering about the "black" cinders that the OP is having trouble with. If your oven is anywhere near the temperatures you need, there shouldn't be any exposed carbon that doesn't burn away in a hurry.

        I generally move my fire off to the side about twenty minutes before I'm ready to cook. If there is a stray black streak from moving the fire over (it's mostly bright coals and white ash by that point) it's long gone by the time I come out to do my final brush.

        Pianotehj: are you firing your oven until all the carbon is burnt off the interior of the dome? A lot of new ovens are still somewhat damp, and don't come to the temperatures you need right away. Also, a lot of new oven owners are hesitant to build the "scary" big fires needed to get your oven up to temperature.
        My geodesic oven project: part 1, part 2

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        • #5
          Re: cleaning ash before cooking

          alter ego & jed: sounds like a costless yet effective solution! I will be making a tube tomorrow.

          dmun: I have been curing my oven for the past week, and I had gotten the temperature up to about 700 when I tried baking pizza for the first time. but you are right--I am new to both building and handling huge fires. how much wood do you suggest I use to get the oven up to 800 degrees?

          thank you everyone!
          Last edited by pianotehj; 10-12-2010, 08:26 PM.

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          • #6
            Re: cleaning ash before cooking

            Make sure that your wood is dry and preferably seasoned.
            Just keep adding the wood maintaining a fairly aggressive fire. Keep the fire fiercer until the dome and the sides are white, ie. the carbon has burned off and the oven is then ready for your pizzas. I push the coals to the back and one side, brush the hearth with a bristle brush (not a nylon one) and bake. I also put on the coals more wood to keep the flames running around the oven dome, so you will use possibly a wheelbarrow load of wood to get it up to 500˚C and then cooking 20-30 pizzas. Get yourself a well insulted door and use that stored heat and cook for 2 days.

            Cheers.

            Neill
            Prevention is better than cure, - do it right the first time!

            The more I learn, the more I realise how little I know


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            Neillís kitchen underway
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            • #7
              Re: cleaning ash before cooking

              Hi all,
              Does anyone use a damp cloth to clean the ashes before placing the pizzas on the hearth? If so, are there any problems doing so? The tube to blow the ashes sounds good but aren't those ashes going to fall back on the floor again???
              Thanks

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              • #8
                Re: cleaning ash before cooking

                I am taking an artisan breads course at the french culinary institute, and my chef (who has worked at a bakery that uses only wood-fired brick ovens for all of their products) told me that they would quickly sweep with a brush (brass bristles), then wet a mop (not dripping wet, just lightly dampen) and wipe the floor after the woods have been moved.

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                • #9
                  Re: cleaning ash before cooking

                  After I have the oven up to temp and push the fire to the side (and hold it back with my homemade iron log holder), I brass brush the available cooking floor, and then give it a quick wipe with a damp towel wrapped around a hoe...and then I'm ready to get after it.

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                  • #10
                    Re: cleaning ash before cooking

                    I do similar and use the brass brush to move wood back/side then keep brushing back 3 or 4 times to push the ashes back and get the floor 'cleaner'.

                    THEN I DO A LIGHT DAMP MOP: I get the cotton "replacement" mop heads available most anywhere, cut in half, trim the length a bit and wrap thin wire around the mop head and 2" tip of a short pole. I dip this in a bucket of water, squeeze, then just the lightest mopping.

                    I really don't mind the bit of ash though. The brass bristle brush get's enough for pizza, but for bread, mopping is essential. (well, highly recommended )
                    "Life is a banquet and most poor sons-of-bitches are starving to death." -Auntie Mame

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                    • #11
                      Re: cleaning ash before cooking

                      Ash is sterile and does not stick. I brush it out and cook pizza.

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                      • #12
                        Re: cleaning ash before cooking

                        Yep, I only damp mop for bread baking. Sweeping is good enough for pizza cookery.

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                        • #13
                          Re: cleaning ash before cooking

                          The tube to blow the ashes sounds good but aren't those ashes going to fall back on the floor again???
                          Remember: you have a pretty fierce fire and strong draft going at this point. Any airborne fly ash is going to be sucked right out the flue.
                          My geodesic oven project: part 1, part 2

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                          • #14
                            Re: cleaning ash before cooking

                            Just a couple of quick questions... 1). the wet/damp mop won't hurt the oven floor? 2). I did pizzas for the second time Saturday night. Tried a wetter dough which definately worked better, and didn't let the oven get quite so hot. I used a brown rice flour for the peel and it scorched.. fine by me, but the kids complained.. bought a infrared thermometer at Harbor Tools this morning on sale for $39.95... is the floor too hot? is the rice flour the right kind? by the way, we only sacrificed one to the oven and the last one, pesto chicken and evo turned out perfect...

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                            • #15
                              Re: cleaning ash before cooking

                              Just a couple of quick questions... 1). the wet/damp mop won't hurt the oven floor? 2). I did pizzas for the second time Saturday night. Tried a wetter dough which definately worked better, and didn't let the oven get quite so hot. I used a brown rice flour for the peel and it scorched.. fine by me, but the kids complained.. bought a infrared thermometer at Harbor Tools this morning on sale for $39.95... is the floor too hot? is the rice flour the right kind? by the way, we only sacrificed one to the oven and the last one, pesto chicken and evo turned out perfect...

                              Comment

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