Fire Building Methodology
We have had 4 firings, and I was wondering, how do you (anyone?, anyone?) build you fires - meaning do you build in the center, let it go to red coals, then move to the side? Or do you just build in the corner and leave the fire in one place? I have been working with the fire at the 10 o'clock position, and am getting to 900F+ on the dome, and about 500F on the 2 o'clock floor position - but I am finding that it takes a roaring fire to get the floor to that temp. I think I did a good job on building, as 16 hours after intial firing the dome was still at 224F, with the floor at 167F. I picked up a ratek RT-6 which has been invaluable in wokring thorugh 'heat management' ! Last Saturday, we did 8 pies, for 19 people - what a blast..
I build my initial fire just inside the entrance (6 o'clock behind the vent)once it is burning nicely ,I push it in to the middle.Just before i'm ready to move it to the side (when i have some nice red embers) I put a couple of good size logs on the side to get nice and hot so that they will ignite quickly when I move the embers onto them.I consider the oven ready when the dome is all white.I know at that point it's above 900 at the top of the dome.The middle of the floor is 580-600.I usually get to this point after about 90 minutes.my oven is approx 42 x 20.
I use about 1 1/2 to 2 cu ft of dry oak for my fire. I start just behind the chimney, build it up until it's burning nicely and then keep adding wood from my little pile until it's all in there. Then I burn it down, push the coals to the side, add a log split and start cooking pizza.
Check out my fire building photos at http://photos.yahoo.com/colonelcorn76
(Yea for Stan finishing & making his first pizza party!) :)
I like to start the fire in the center of the oven, a little toward the front. When it is going well, I start to build the fire toward the sides and back. That way you get good flame coverage in the entire dome, and a nice bed of coals over most of the floor. I think that drives a lot of heat into the floor.
I push my fire to the left and cook on the right. Which side is more popular -- and why? I'm left handed and wonder if that matters.
Ditto (fire on the left).
BTW, it's a mistake to keep the fire on both sides with a pizza in there unless pizza inferno is desired :-) I usually spray the top of a pie with olive oil (pump bottle) and a friend popped one in while we were experimenting with fire size & location and the olive oil burst into flame taking the whole pie with it in the time it took him to slide the peel out and start to hang it up on a hook hanging from the roof eave.
sounds like something from an episode of MacGyver ...
A ton of coals
hey all...does anyone ever remove coals from the oven prior to cooking? After I get the fire built and hot enough (I use the "white dome = ready" method), I seem to have a lot of coals...does anyone take a few scoops out?
For pizza, the fire is pushed to one side, and kept going. For bread, the coals are removed (and put in a non-combustible covered container).
My experience is that at times you have a lot of coals that want to spill into the area where you are cooking. I use a shovel and steel pail to get them out of the way, while leaving the hot stuff and burning wood in place. In the winter, I even took the hot coals into the fireplace in the house for heat. If you have an outdoor fireplace or wood coal grill you can use then that way.
If you have a larger oven, those coals are less of an issue. You just push everything to the side, and don't have to worry about it, because you just have more space to work with.
i really need to get around to building a tool that will scrape or push the coals sideways, instead of scraping them front or back, like the scraper/brush tool does. it's always a pain in the ass to get the fire/coals situated as far over as possible.
i think i'll weld some angle iron or a flat piece of steel along a handle, instead of perpendicular to the handle like the other tool. has anyone made a tool like this?
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