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  #11  
Old 02-13-2011, 02:53 PM
lwood's Avatar
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Default Re: Floor temperature drop-off rate vs. floor-brick saturation

I usually move my fire to the side when the initial fire becomes coals. About an hour. It seems the dome clears faster with the fire on the side and flames at least up to the top of the dome.
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  #12  
Old 02-14-2011, 01:50 PM
Il Pizzaiolo
 
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Default Re: Floor temperature drop-off rate vs. floor-brick saturation

Sogginess of the bottom has nothing to do with the hydration of the dough. And soggy dough is far more a function of dough thickness, topping wetness, and the amount of topping. The dough for a wood fired oven needs to be THIN - less than 1/8 inch. 1/16 is okay. If you are doing thick pies you don't really want a WFO. And if you don't want a caramelized top you are not benefiting from a WFO either. If you want a thick pie and a melted, uncaramelized top you need an oven at about 450 to 500 and using a WFO is like using a hammer to tighten bolts. Wrong tool for the job.
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  #13  
Old 02-14-2011, 03:28 PM
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Default Re: Floor temperature drop-off rate vs. floor-brick saturation

Thanks for the remarks Jay.... I do realized there are other factors involved, so I'll expand a bit on what type of pies I do...

I DO do very thin neapolitan pies (except I don't use 00 flour - too expensive here). I almost always stretch my center very very thin - 1/16 to 1/32 (about 1mm thick I'd say), with a puffed up cornicione. In this WFO learning curve I am only doing margheritas, with a bit more cheese than they do over in Italy (we like every slice to get cheese )

When I developed my dough recipe over the last year (before WFO, but using a self-built pizza oven at aprox. 750F), I tried ranges from VPN 55% hydration to about 70%. I finally decided on 65-66%, and sundays pizzas were probably around 67% hydration. I am going to try however going down again, maybe to 60-63%. A drier dough will dry-out faster and resist sauce moisture better, helping me get good char on the bottom (I figure).

Anyway I will post back letting you know how it went... I won't mind slightly caramelized if I get nice bottom/rim char. That's my goal... So continues the new learning curve (deep down I knew I'd have to learn to make pizza again once I had my WFO)
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  #14  
Old 02-14-2011, 08:16 PM
Il Pizzaiolo
 
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Default Re: Floor temperature drop-off rate vs. floor-brick saturation

If you have thin, sparse pies and you have a soggy bottom the hearth is too cold. There is no other explanation. But that doesn't fit with the story you tell. So???? something has to be wrong. If you have an 850 degree hearth your dough will be cooked in about 70 to 75 seconds. If the top burns before then the flames are too high. Part of the managing a WFO is getting the hearth and the flames/dome at the right temps. Usually they sort of go together but your oven seems very odd.
Jay
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  #15  
Old 02-14-2011, 09:46 PM
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Default Re: Floor temperature drop-off rate vs. floor-brick saturation

Jay,

I'm not moving the fire to the side until right before the cooking phase. With all the unburnt coals there, it could be the hearth is only just superficially hot, which is why I'm going to try moving the fire to the side -big fire like- during the final hour of clearing the dome plus some.

I personally replaced the entire floor with 2.5" firebrick with 2" CF board underneath, so the floor shouldn't be it.

My only other doubt would be too much thermal mass above? I have 6" pressed reds with a slight render. My low dome is in the neapolitan style (actually a bit higher at 45cm for my 130cm size), so I hope it's a matter of "fornaio" skill that I have yet to acquire - better fire/heat management on my part, or as I think proper heat saturation in the floor bricks.

I have only done pizza twice so far, I am pressed for time to finish the restaurant itself, and my business partner hasn't been the help I expected (lesson learned).

Thanks again for your comments (and thanks Lwood also, and those who chip in). They give me ideas and pointers on how to manage these problems. I hope it'll be a faster process when I can fire her up and be cooking pies at least 2-3 times per week.
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  #16  
Old 02-15-2011, 06:20 AM
Il Pizzaiolo
 
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Default Re: Floor temperature drop-off rate vs. floor-brick saturation

Rereading all of your comments I think your fire is way too small. Once your oven is dry and really ready to use you should be able to build a big enough fire to heat it up and clear the dome in less than an hour. With only 2 1/2 inches of fire brick to heat up in the floor the hearth should heat fast. An issue, I think, particularly for a commercial oven, is that those bricks are the only source of heat to cook the bottom of the pizza. Your pizza will cool the surface and heat has to come from below. Are your fire bricks heavy or light. If they are "light" you may not have enough hearth mass or they may be too insulating and that may be part of your strange problems. I know some of the people on this site have their firebrick right on the insulation and they aren't getting raw, soggy bottoms to their pies.

Also, if you basically clear the coals and sweep and put a pizza on a hearth that turns flour black in a second the bottom should burn almost instantly. An unbrowned bottom crust should be impossible. (Actually not burning the bottom should be impossible!) Are you cooking the pies directly on the hearth or are you using pizza pans??
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  #17  
Old 02-15-2011, 07:02 AM
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Default Re: Floor temperature drop-off rate vs. floor-brick saturation

The firebricks are medium 42% alumina, and rest directly on the fiber board. I am also starting to think that I'm not heating the floor properly, with the fire in the middle and black unlit coals underneath it.

I cook directly on the floor, and If I have a properly leavened dough, will not burn the bottom - only spot it (when I have slid in under-proofed dough, it's lack up air bubbles caused it to lay flat and stick to the bricks. I find the air bubbles create a hovercraft effect raising the pie as they fill up)

Maybe I was misleading - when I blackened the flour instantly I was at 850, but I let it drop to 790 before sliding the first one in. However I want to see if I can raise the floor temps with a big side fire. They always start to drop with a smaller cooking fire and I expect that's not good or indicates superficial heating only.

My other thing is that maybe it's a dough thinness matter. It's SO thin in the middle that it doesn't have a chance against the wet toppings once brought out. I did get leoparding but the slices still drooped – couldn't hold the wet sauce and cheese.

Next goal as stated is:

1) a bigger side fire to properly heat up floor
2) slightly thicker dough in middle (I'll try 2mm)
3) a not-so-wet / bit less tomato sauce (a white pizza I did my first try-out fared better than the margheritas)
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  #18  
Old 02-15-2011, 08:58 AM
Il Pizzaiolo
 
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Default Re: Floor temperature drop-off rate vs. floor-brick saturation

790 is still plenty hot. Heating the hearth is not usually a challenge. Keeping it hot can be, but...this whole thing feels really weird! Sounds like you may be using too much/too wet a sauce also. And dough recipes are important. I know you are using local flour. You may need/want to add a little oil to make it less sauce susceptible. Also, try putting herb oil on a pie and some coarse salt and bake that. It should come out as outstanding, crisp flatbread. If you can't get that to work then pies are hopeless.
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  #19  
Old 02-16-2011, 07:49 AM
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Default Re: Floor temperature drop-off rate vs. floor-brick saturation

I think my dough and sauce amount must contribute to the equation. I understated the white pizza I made, it came out excellent and crisp (add to that I usually do white pizza at lower temps - around 660). Its a white, prosciutto, bosc pear & EVO pizza, which has quite a following.

I'm gonna have to alternate red and white pizza. The thing I'm just having my gas line installed this week, I can't cook here yet and that hinders my testing. Sometimes I wonder if I should have stuck with my day job....
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