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70chevelle 09-22-2008 05:33 AM

What's going on?
Had the parents out for some football, ryder cup, & pizza yesterday. I fired the oven at around 11:00 and got it white. I started cooking at about 2:00. The first pie (marzano tomato sauce & cheese) I put on, the floor was too hot. I realized as soon as I saw the cornmeal left on the bottom of my pie start smoking. I turned the pizza until the edges were browned and the cheese was bubbly and browning also. The bottom was blackened and had an acrid taste. I let the oven settle, swept the floor, and put number 2 on (spinach & feta). Turned until the edges were browned and the cheese started to brown. The bottom was not as burnt, but still not good. The third pizza (eggplant, olive oil, & cheese) a little better, but still not good. The last (fresh garden tomatoes, olive oil, garlic & fresh herbs) was better yet, but still not great. The real problem was that none of the pizzas were crispy. The inner dough was too moist and and crust in general was droopy, as if uncooked. The rim had good oven spring. I cooked pizza's last week in my kitchen oven with a pizza stone on the top rack & another on the bottom rack @ 525* and the pizza's came out perfect. (I placed the pizza on the bottom stone and used the top stone for heat retention to help cook the top as quickly as the bottom) I was feeling pretty confident and didn't take any floor temps, so that data is lost. This is my dough recipe.

Con Agra Kyrol Hi Gluten flour 100%
Water 63%
IDY .56%
Salt 1.5%
EVOO .5%

350g ball, approx 13" pizza.

Any thoughts?????

dmun 09-22-2008 06:05 AM

Re: What's going on?
A couple of observations: The high-gluten flour recipe you are using may be unsuited to high temp wfo baking. The clue is that it turns out perfect at 550f. Also, your pizza may be too thick to cook all the way through with those temperatures. It sounds like you are making more of a NY style pizza, which will need you to moderate your oven temperatures for about an hour before you start cooking.

Try a thinner pizza, with a few toppings. And ditch the cornmeal in the wfo: it has too much sugar and will tend to burn and be bitter. Try rice flour as an alternative. You might try to get hold of a bag of Caputo 00: it makes a dramatic difference.

james 09-22-2008 08:56 AM

Re: What's going on?
I agree with all of Dmun's thinking.

350gr for a 13" pizza is pretty thick for a wood-fired oven. I have been making 270-280gr balls for 11" pizzas.

I find that cornmeal burns too easily and leaves a burned and gritty flavor. You can use regular flour or semolina -- and rice flour, which is really slippery. I use regular flour.

Did you have a good size fire going? How much reflecting heat did you get? You want balanced heat above and below so that your bottom is done (carmelized brown), and your top is done (browned cheese with some blister marks on the cornicione).

Keep going!

70chevelle 09-22-2008 10:20 AM

Re: What's going on?
I guess I'll have to start experimenting with different flours. I definitely had a good fire going. I have no idea how to quantify the amount of reflective heat I was getting? I'm going to give semolina a try on the peel. The cheese was nicely browned on the last pizza as was the cornicione. The bottom browned nicely also, but the crust overall was very limp. So on the final pizza, the top & bottom were good, but the middle seemed to need more time to cook. I normally use my 350g balls for a 15" pizza, but was having a little difficulty with thin spots and breaking, so I did thicken up the crust a little. I'll keep at it. Thanks for the responses!

asudavew 09-22-2008 01:59 PM

Re: What's going on?
How long did your dough rest after kneading?
If you had problems stretching it without breaking that may be the reason. A longer resting time could be the solution.

I have been using 67% hydration with my high gluten flour. I was using 60% and it wasn't near enough.
Try that and see what you think.


70chevelle 09-23-2008 04:40 AM

Re: What's going on?
Dave - I do a 24-36 hour cold rise in the fridge. The dough is really nice to work with, I've had some thin spots that have "broke" while trying to turn in the oven. If I have a break thru, I'll normally take a small piece from the dough & plug it. I'll also try upping my hydration a few points up from 63%. I guess I'll be making a big batch of dough on Thursday. Thanks!

asudavew 09-23-2008 06:11 AM

Re: What's going on?
Well that's definitely plenty of rest time.
Is the dough up to room temp when you begin working with it?

And be gentle when working with the higher hydrated dough as it can be a bit more delicate.

Let me know how it turns out. Hopefully we can have you making exceptional pies soon!


70chevelle 09-23-2008 06:57 AM

Re: What's going on?
Yes, I let the dough balls on the counter for about 2 hours before I make the skins. I handle them very lightly. I've had great success with pizza in general on my gas grill, Big Green Egg, and home oven, just having some issues with the WFO. I guess I'm going to have to make my dough and skins specific to my cooking vessel!:confused: This weekend I'm going to do the following:

1) No oil in the dough.
2) Maybe make a batch of dough with AP flour
3) Thin skins with no rims!
4) Check the floor temps before I place the first pie
5) Try some semolina flour instead of the cornmeal.

On the other side of this coin, my breads have turned out excellent! Thanks again.

70chevelle 09-25-2008 08:39 AM

Re: What's going on?
To try to correct my problem, and based upon the suggestion to try Caputo OO pizza flour, I found that Pennmac is about 45 minutes from me. I placed an order today for a 50# bag of Caputo and 106oz can of san marzano's. What a great resource to have in my backyard! I should have everything tomorrow and hopefully make some pies this weekend.

Mojoe 09-29-2008 09:56 AM

Re: What's going on?
I've tried AP, Bread, and Caputo all using the standard Forno recipe with the exception of a couple tablespoons of olive oil and all have cooked pretty much the same. Taste is a different story and you'll be pleasantly surprised by the Caputo, same goes for Pennmac.
I used to have the reverse of your problem, burnt tops, perfect bottoms until I started to spread the coals more evenly while firing. When my vault oven goes white, surface temps are over 1000f (IR max=1000), dome thermocouple is at 600f and hearth thermocouple is at 500f...both thermo's are halfway into the bricks. Before spreading the coals temps were Dome: 750 Hearth: 500

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