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dlachez 01-29-2007 07:14 AM

Black and White Ovens
I have a freind that bought a restaurant with a white oven. A brick oven that has a heating source not in side the cooking vessel. It can be heated by gas or wood.
Does anyone no what differences there may be between the heat managment of a white oven over a black oven.

I got the black and white thing from Wikipedia

maver 01-29-2007 09:30 PM

Re: Black and White Ovens
My oven converts from black to white when it heats up!

The heat management with a commercial oven vs a home oven is probably a bigger difference than white or black. Can you share more information about the particular oven?

CanuckJim 01-30-2007 06:11 AM

Re: Black and White Ovens
It's very hard to know the differences in heat management between a black and white oven, just as it's difficult to write hard and fast rules for heat management in any of the black ovens members are building from brick, because they vary. The exception would be the FB modular and Modena ovens, because the specs are constant. It would depend on how your friend's white oven was built, the thickness of the slab, the orientation of the bricks, the height of the dome and the amount and kind of insulation. I can't say if one is superior over the other or not. Kind of like comparing apples and oranges. If you had two ovens of the same size, one white, one black, with similar specs, then it would be possible to measure performance. Otherwise, it's a guess. On the East Coast, years ago, many commercial baking ovens were built with a white design, but this, I suspect, had a lot to do with the fact that hard coal was abundant, and this was the fuel they used. Suspect, too, that coal would be difficult to manage in a black oven, but I've never tried it.


dlachez 01-30-2007 06:27 AM

Re: Black and White Ovens
Thanks guys,
I've asked for dimensions and some pictures.
That was funny maver.
Jim's comment makes sense. My friend has never used a brick oven and knows little about them. I suppose he'll have some experimenting to do.

I have not see it but his descriptions now sound as if it is a black and white high-bread of some sort.

Again thank you.


CanuckJim 02-12-2007 04:20 PM

Re: Black and White Ovens
Dlachez, Maver, James,

This afternoon, blacksmith Lloyd Johnston delivered (for a consideration of bread) the Beta version of his combination draft/oven door. Looks really fine. I'll take some stills of it tomorrow, and then get some video of it in use. This might be the kind of thing that members might have fabricated in their areas. Of course, though, this guy also makes cannon for historical recreations, so this kind of work might be called a diversion for him. Anybody really need a 1720 muzzle loader? He's yer man.


maver 02-12-2007 08:10 PM

Re: Black and White Ovens
won't need to lean bricks against this one then? :D

Looking forward to the pictures.

CanuckJim 02-13-2007 12:19 PM

Re: Black and White Ovens

Have a look at the pics of the draft/oven door combo that Lloyd Johnston made for me. I've posted them in the gallery. He also forged a nifty rake for me.


DrakeRemoray 02-13-2007 12:35 PM

Re: Black and White Ovens
Jim, That is a work of art! So those feet keep it leaning back (instead of bricks?). very cool.


james 02-13-2007 12:54 PM

Re: Black and White Ovens
This is another one of those harmonic convergence moments. I just got the photo of the more basic door that Forno Bravo will be selling for Pompeii builders -- I rec'd the photo today. Pretty weird. I will post that photo under a different thread.

But wait. There's more.

I wanted to jump into the white oven/black oven thing. Alf has taught me a lot about this, as he had build and restored both types of ovens. I think he's traveling right now.

My understanding is that a white oven uses a fire chamber below the coooking oven, and a vent that blows heat into the cooking chamber. The refractory bricks are heated with the hot air that blows is. There isn't any black soot, and thus the term white oven. These ovens can build a wider range of wood, including pellets, coal and wood chips, as the wood never enters the oven. Alf has worked on projects at commercial bakeries where the accurately calculalted their fuel costs on heat up time, loaves per bake, etc, and they were able to successful control fuel costs. The white oven is also called a Scottish oven, or French oven.

A black oven is what the Romans build, and they type of oven you see throughout Medieval central europe (it was an institution in the feudal system -- keep those poor folks under conrol). The Pompeii oven and the traditional Italian oven is black oven. The fire in the hole makes the oven black, and of course pizza ovens are black ovens. Carbon goes clear at about 700ºF, which is why our ovens all go white (or clear), when they are ready to cook pizza.

I have never seen a white oven in anybody's back yard, but there are some whoppers out there for commercial baking. Have you seen a photo of one of Alf's white bread ovens?

My understanding a white ovens is that they are rectangular barrel vault ovens with a very low dome. The retained refractory does all of the baking and they hold mid-range temperature for hours. Of course they are incredible thick, with layers of brick and sand, and take very large amounts of fuel and time to heat up.


CanuckJim 02-13-2007 01:37 PM

Re: Black and White Ovens

Lloyd put a bit of spring into the legs so the door holds tight against the brick while baking. The whole appearance of the thing complements the look of my oven, which was deliberately built to be in harmony with my old house.

Next on the list for him is a forged rack on which I can hang my peels, poker, rake, brush and so on. He's an artist, that's for sure. After all, he's made cannon and reproduction rifles from absolute scratch for historical reinactments, so I guess he's capable. He's also agreed to make the steel stands here for The Pizza Builders group.


I have a very strong, early memory of a white oven very similar to Alf's. I was visiting my grandfather in Philadelphia (must have been about 7), when he took me into a bakery in a neighbourhood called Kensington. There it was, in the basement. I saw it in the evening, and they were shovelling in coal below to get ready for the next day's bake. Maybe the glowing hard coal makes the memory so vivid. And, yes, it was a low dome barrel vault. I'm guessing from a child's perspective, but I think the door was at least six feet wide. How deep I don't know.


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