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Pizza Variables - Wood - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community

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Pizza Variables - Wood

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  • Pizza Variables - Wood

    After drawing inspiration from a recent visit to Da Michele in Naples I turned my attention to duplicating that light crust style, leoparding, the minimalist topping and non-traditional oil that characterises their age old style of pizza making. The only difference was that I wanted to achieve this duplication using only locally available ingredients - including flour.

    Interestingly, Da Michele are non-VPN (and have no desire to conform to that standard I understand) giving them an additional "rebellious" dimension which adds to their appeal. My research encompassed observations, tasting, gathering snippets of information on their methods, ingredients and preparation process and was quite exhaustive. This process took me offline as I didn't want any distractions and diversions that regularly occurred during my earlier posts.

    I am pleased to report that I have achieved this objective - and have been able to duplicate it several times successfully so believe I have developed consistency in producing the recipe. Not wishing to begin a discussion on the recipe itself, something else that I discovered involved the wood that I used, and I thought that a discussion on that topic may be of interest to those here.

    There have of course been some discussions here on the "types" of wood used but not so much on the gathering and preparation of the wood itself - which had a significant impact on the end result, particularly leoparding, of the pizza. I will however start with the types of wood (WA specific) that I have found to work well.

    Listed in order of hottest to coolest burning: Mallee roots, White Gum, Jarrah and Peppermint. I first build a good fire with White Gum and mallee and let that burn for a few hours, then introduce finely split Peppermint and White Gum for the flare to keep the fire running optimally for pizzas. Sounds simple enough but where do you get these products you may well wonder...

    After a recent trip to the woodyard to get some White Gum (at $15 /small bag) I decided to find another source for this great burning wood. On looking around I noticed that there is tons of it growing everywhere! We are surrounded by it - growing like weeds. For those that have bulk rubbish collections in your area - keep a lookout for sawn branches/logs. I found heaps just waiting to be collected. Also (pics in an earlier post), a neighbour did some severe tree pruning of a White Gum tree and I grabbed all the good bits from him - enough for about 8 - 10 fires.

    Now, what you will need is a good chainsaw and a log splitter to process the wood. Sounds expensive? No, not really - reasonable 50cc chainsaw plus 2 blades delivered to your door - $135. Hydraulic log splitter costs a bit more = $300 - $420 (7 Ton capacity). With those two items you will be able to process all your wood for future WFO needs very cheaply. If you don't want to spend the money on the hydraulic splitter - just go to Bunnings and buy an axe type log splitter for $30. It will have the same effect, only slower, but will be hard on your back!

    I also bought a pole mounted chainsaw during my buying spree. I tried it on my neighbours White Gum that was hanging over the back fence. The trunk was almost 30cm thick and the small blade struggled a bit but soon it came crashing down. I took the chainsaw to it and after a while had split the logs into oven size bits - both larger for coals and thinner ones for flare. That made about 8 fires worth and there is another branch awaiting surgery too for when I get the next urge.

    Logs will of course take a while to dry completely but I load my next firing of wet wood in the warm oven (after a cook) and it should be perfectly ready for use when I next fire up the oven.

    I will post pics of the log splitting machine activities shortly. This piece of equipment has turned out to be one of the most useful items in my pizza making arsenal and it ensures that I have perfectly sized and very cheap wood available at all times. Definitely worth exploring if you are a serious pizzaiolo.
    Last edited by heliman; 10-03-2010, 03:21 PM.
    / Rossco

  • #2
    Re: Pizza Variables - Wood

    Dear rossco
    I'm going to show my age here when I was a child living in the bush all our ovens were solid fuel stoves "timber getting" was a task that everbody undertook utherwise you would pay a small fortune for the timber. Cause a large log took many years to dry and "wet timber" easy to cut across the grain logs were cut into lenghts and left to dry in big lose piles in the paddock.
    Left to dry a minimum of at least 1 year, 2 to 3 was perfect. Wet timber is hard to split along the lenght and if you took home partly dry timber you had a hell of a task a head of you. You had to split it down to smaller widths I used to have to do this with a sharp axe as a log splitter only work on really dry timber. You had to them re stack it up and leave it again to properly dry. You may has well left it in the paddock and saved youself the task of splitting stacking and waiting..... However now with that.... said that that power log splittter sound the go. If that thing can split the timber into smaller pieces it should then dry faster. how much faster i'm not sure. Hope you have some spare room on your property cause i suspect at least a year.
    I'm lucky at the moment as I have a small supply of 2'x3' hardwood saved from helping a couple of Friends with some house renervations... 50 years in a wall... definitry dry.
    But this is only going to last for so long so I'll be faced with cutting wet timber and find the time and space to season it or burning out chainsaws and cutting dry ( hopfully) fallen timber.
    Hope that log splitter speads the process await the results please post the results in I suspect a years time.
    Regards
    Measure twice
    Cut once
    Fit in position with largest hammer

    My Build
    http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f51/...ild-14444.html
    My Door
    http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f28/...ock-17190.html

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    • #3
      Re: Pizza Variables - Wood

      Hi Dave - thanks for the very informative post.

      I have reported finding some White Gum over the road from my house some while ago in this post: http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/16/c...html#post79322

      That was on 2 Feb so that makes it 8 months ago and I have been using the wood for about 4 months now (unsplit) and it was pretty dry an burned well. I have since used the log splitter on the remaining logs and they seem to be pretty well dry and ready for use. Based on that history and given that I am spliting the logs into pretty small pieces I would envisage that they would be ready for use in about 4 -6 months time - particularly as we are heading into summer now and it is likely to be very hot.

      The Peppermint wood that I have has been dried for about 13 years so there is no problem with that for now. I also mix the bought, super old and dry fallen wood with the newer White Gum and find that a good combination.

      I have plenty of space in the back garden so will keep a pile going for as long as I have supplies. I will avoid buying any more from the woodyard if I possibly can.

      Will post pics of the 8 month dried wood and the 1 week old wood for comparison a bit later. Will also include pics of the 7-Ton splitter.
      / Rossco

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Pizza Variables - Wood

        The 7 Ton Splitter in action Video

        Pics

        Pizza - sample of Da Michele clone (more recent ones have pure mozarella)

        Wood - Peppermint, 8 month aged White Gum, 1 week aged White Gum
        Attached Files
        Last edited by heliman; 10-01-2010, 03:57 AM.
        / Rossco

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Pizza Variables - Wood

          Lucky enough to have a few trees on my place as well as backing onto bushland with a good supply of peppermint, tas oak, wattle and blackwood. Usually take a hand saw with me and bring back dead and dry saplings up to around 75mm dia. Some up to 8 metres in length. Cut them to length on the docking saw and store under the WFO and BBQ. With it coming into the 'season to be jolly', I feel there will be a few trips 'up the back'.

          Cheers Doug



          U Dont Have 2 Have a Long Neck 2B1

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Pizza Variables - Wood

            Heliman,

            Could you post your clone recipe or pm it to me. I would love to try it out.

            Thanks

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Pizza Variables - Wood

              Hi Rossco,
              So nice to see your posts again. Touring Naples eating at and studying Da Michele is a fine and acceptable excuse .

              Your pic of your 'clone' is perhaps the most beautiful example of a pizza I've ever seen. Bravo. The fine marinara translucently lapping the edge of the cornice with perfect leoparding is breathtaking.

              I compared your pizza with pics on the net of Da Michele and you've got down perfectly. I bet it tasted great.

              How did you make the marinara or tomato sauce? That hydraulic splitter is cool. It looks like I could fit one perfectly in my wfo side storage. I may have to adjust my xmas list this year.

              cheers, Dino
              "Life is a banquet and most poor sons-of-bitches are starving to death." -Auntie Mame

              View My Picasa Web Album UPDATED oct
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              http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f8/d...arts-5883.html

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              • #8
                Re: Pizza Variables - Wood

                On the subject of wood splitters, I bought a manual hydraulic log splitter from Harbor Freight (I don't like buying all this Chinese stuff, but all of them come from China, no matter who sells them). It will crack open good sized gnarly live oak log (which you can not split with a maul) pretty well. It starts popping and finally gives up and cracks open.

                That electric splitter will not split the live oak around here, it will split straight grained well seasoned mesquite, but not live oak.

                I paid $100 for it with the 20% coupon.

                10 Ton Hydraulic Log Splitter
                Attached Files

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Pizza Variables - Wood

                  Hi Dino - thanks for the kind comments. Especially complimentary coming from you as a master of the wood oven!

                  In relation to the sauce - my observations at Da Michele was that the sauce was simply San Marzano tomatoes - pulp extracted (no pips) and no additional condiments, herbs or oil added. If oil is added, the sauce takes on a shiny appearance and there was definitely none evident. They would have reduced the consistency (slight colour change to darker red) as well.

                  To emulate that - I use my KA attachment and extract Roma pulp, then reduce it and that's it!
                  / Rossco

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Pizza Variables - Wood

                    Rossco
                    Thanks for that thread that lead to all that interesting talk on wood. It was interesting to hear our american friends talk of all the different woods and there flavours. On that do you have Sheoaks on the west coast? Remember on the south coast many moons ago eating mullet cooked over sheoak coals on a wire rack and just when it was ready throwing a handfull of green sheoak leaves on the coals so it smoked the fish. Its an old Abo trick Now that was good I'll have to follow that up.
                    Saw the u-tube of the log splitter in action... its a beauty!!!. Ive never seen anything like it, what a cool tool.
                    Complements on the pizza... a bit cruel though... can't make pizza due to the rain and the oven is soaked can't put a seal on the dome due the rain will not stop. Highest recorded rainfall for Brisbane for a sept. Can"t winge though Begining of last year we were only 15 per cent water in the dams.


                    Regards Dave
                    Measure twice
                    Cut once
                    Fit in position with largest hammer

                    My Build
                    http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f51/...ild-14444.html
                    My Door
                    http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f28/...ock-17190.html

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Pizza Variables - Wood

                      Hi Dave,

                      Thanks for the comments.

                      Yes, strangely, wood can actually be quite an interesting topic as it's so integral to successful WFO cooking. So much so that it seems that I have a bit of an obsession with wood at the moment! When driving around the suburbs I see trees in a new light - as food for my WFO!!! Bulk rubbish collection coming up in a few weeks time so that will be like Xmas for the oven. The new chainsaws are itching to attack.......

                      In relation to the varieties of oak available in WA - not too sure on that one.

                      Bad news that you haven't been able to cook pizza lately. Quite the opposite here. Cranked the oven up last night again for the family. Boerewors starter then straight into 6 pizzas. Super light, mozarella di latti, leoparding - done in 90 seconds. Very well received by the guests.
                      Last edited by heliman; 10-03-2010, 06:37 AM.
                      / Rossco

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Pizza Variables - Wood

                        Went for a cycle yesterday and saw that there was a bulk rubbish collection in the next suburb - including heaps of wood. Friend with a ute was also riding and he offered to collect it for me. One lot was well seasoned and ready to be split - which the new splitting machine took care of with ease - and the other green.

                        My wife also noticed a whole lot more wood when she was out shopping so I stopped by the place this morning an loaded a whole lot more wood (have split most of it already).

                        So, I have now got plenty of wood - some will take a while to season but now that it is summer and warm, that should only take about 4 months till it's usable. Amazing how much is tossed out when the price of wood is $280 per ton. Saved myself about $300 so far so it is definitely a worthwhile proposition processing it yourself if you can get wood supplies for free.

                        Pics:
                        Left - some of the processed, already seasoned wood I found
                        Middle - Split but green (needs 4 months seasoning)
                        Right - wood pile to be processed

                        Wood is mainly White Gum with a bit of Red Box.
                        Attached Files
                        Last edited by heliman; 10-17-2010, 03:26 AM.
                        / Rossco

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Pizza Variables - Wood

                          Dear Rossco
                          Like you Ive hit the road to find further supplies of wood and guess what I found

                          Name:  80342e25e9c38855eeeba49e5e4bd9f4.jpg
Views: 1
Size:  1.02 MB

                          Too good to be true. You guessed it... to good to be true. Those bloody huge bags were full of wood...Chipboard, painted house boards, varnished floor boards all cut to length.....
                          Brissy council has done away with the Green waste thro outs they have brought in green bins collected fortnightly. so the options are going down.
                          Does anyone know the laws in QLD on collecting wood in the bush roadside??

                          Regards Dave
                          Brisbane Qld
                          Measure twice
                          Cut once
                          Fit in position with largest hammer

                          My Build
                          http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f51/...ild-14444.html
                          My Door
                          http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f28/...ock-17190.html

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Pizza Variables - Wood

                            Hi Dave - wow ... anything goes as far as firewood is concerned it would seem!!

                            I wondering the same thing about collecting wood lying around in parks etc and even went as far as contacting the Chief Arborist arborist at the local council to ask about picking up and "recycling" wood. At first she was a bit apprehensive but after a while she told me she also has a WFO so understood the need. Whilst she didn't encourage collecting fallen wood in parks etc, she said "if you get there before us that will be OK". So there is the challenge I guess!

                            That being said, I have got over a ton of split wood now all seasoning in the back garden. I located a good stash of wood outside someones house and did two loads with a friend's ute and grabbed it all. The hydraulic wood splitter and chainsaws have already paid for themselves and I have got about 2 years supply of wood so fire the WFO 2 x per weekend now as standard practice. There is in fact too much wood around as people are happy to go to bunnings and pay $15 /bag for Jarrah and don't bother collecting and processing their own.

                            In your case, where there's no bulk collection, contact a few tree loppers and see if you can find out where they are operating on a particular day then show up and load your ute with free wood. They will be more than happy for you to take it away (and may even cut to size if you're lucky) as it will save them chipping and having to pay to dump it at the tip.

                            Will post a pic of my latest stack tomorrow - I have prepared a special metal-framed platform that allows free flow of air to speed up the drying process. Definitely worth getting wood yourself and doing the processing - but invest in a chainsaw and hydraulic splitter ... they will save your back!!
                            Last edited by heliman; 10-25-2010, 07:35 AM.
                            / Rossco

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Pizza Variables - Wood

                              These are some pics of my current stockpile of wood.

                              1. Wood stacked left, right and under the oven.
                              2. Bagged super dry White Gum salvaged from a verge throw out.
                              3. My wood pile on "custom made" metal rack to aid air circulation.
                              Attached Files
                              Last edited by heliman; 10-26-2010, 04:04 AM.
                              / Rossco

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