How hot can it go
I have a casa 90 and this weekend I got the floor of the oven near the coals up to 850. I assume I can get this higher. What have others been able to get the floor temp up to? I need it even higher for a 90 second pizza.
With an infrared thermometer I've taken my brick oven to 850, I get 90 seconds with that temperature. I don't think you need to be concerned about any danger going higher if you have properly cured the oven, but goodness, will you still have room for pizza with a fire that big :o ?
I would recommend working on consistently reaching and retaining 750F- 800F as something to shoot for -- which takes a lot of practice. That will give you 90 second plus pizzas, and the ability to reliably cook multiple pizza's in a row for your family and friends.
I have been concerned for some time that the so-called 900ºF "goal" has caused a lot of confusion. It's just marketing by a subset of VPN, and a few misguided individuals -- and it's very misleading. Consistently cooking at 900-1000ºF is something that very, very few restaurants do -- including most of those who claim they do. A vast majority of the Pizzerias in Italy and in the states, including the famous ones who claim VPN, are cooking between 700ºF-800ºF. All of the mainstream Italian commercial ovens recommend cooking at 800F, and the major American-made commercial oven has trouble holding 700F. My favorite was the U.S. wood-fired pizzeria that told me that the oven was over 800F, and the pizzas cooked in 5-7 minutes. I've been testing wood-fired Italian pizzerias with my infrared thermometer, and not one I've seen comes close to 900F. They might hit 900F while firing, but not cooking. And these are large, expensive commercial ovens.
But this is not a negative. Cooking at 750F-800F is great. It's what you want.
There are even Pizza Napoletana associations in Italy that recommend 800F as the target -- so the 900F figure itself is questionable. The problem I see is that the high temperature level is something that is easy to describe (as they said in Spintap, mines goes to 11), so it has caught on. But there is so much more involved in great pizza making.
My view is that you should enjoy your oven, make great pizza, and don't worry over the last few 50ºF. Your Casa oven will perform wonderfully.
I hope this is helpful.
Just to add a little to James' excellent dissertation on 900 degree ovens, when I was reading hearth temps of 850 the point between done and badly burnt was about 5 seconds. I aim for 750-800 for good pizza - usually a bit over 90 seconds, but my guests have never complained!
Thanks for that Maver. Here is a link to an interesting little site on Pizza Napoletana from a pizzeria owner and trainer in Salerno. He's a self-described expert on Pizza Napoletana :rolleyes: , and he recommends cooking at 750ºF.
There are couple a short videos that are fun to watch, so you should click around some.
Another "log" on the fire
Here's a fun photo. It's a commerical oven with a thermometer, set to Farenheit -- reading 700ºF.
Thanks James, great videos.
I have been getting 2 minute pies fairly consistently. This usually has a temp of 750-850 by the coals, but I am running into the problem with the overall hearth temp. My underside of the pizza isn't as cooked as I'd like it to be which tells me that I'm putting my pizza way too close to the coals (I put it right up to them) to get the 2 minute pie, but I don't have the overall heat of the oven up enough. The hearth on the other side of the 14"-15" pizza is only about 650. I may need to move the pizza away from the coals a bit and try and get the oven (floor) hotter.
This makes sense. How long are you firing the oven, and are you building up a good bed of coals to fully heat the cooking floor? Did you see my graphic on filling your oven with heat? One way of thinking about this is that commercial ovens are fired continually, so you need to give your home oven time time to really absorb heat so that is can maintain its high heat.
I find that keeping a good fire not only heats the dome, but also drives heat across the cooking floor.
One small thing. A traditional Italian pizza is about 11" (one per person), which is also part of of the fast-baking philosophy. That, along with the thinner ingredients and lean dough, are parts of the style. If you go heavier, you won't get that Napoletana feeling. One last thing. How heavy is your dough ball? Does the weight seem in line with the fast bake theory?
One thought. Although untraditional, you might try using a metal strap (like the ash gaurd sold in the FB store) to help get more even baking. I suspect that direct radiation from your coals is searing the top of your pizza ahead of the crust - especially right next the coals. Blocking some of this radiant heat with a metal strap may even things out. Try getting the hearth up to temp longer first per James' suggestion, but if you are cooking right up to the coals you might also want to try blocking the radiant heat. My pizza is also in the 2 minute range, probably 2" 15', but the crust takes a nice char and I usually raise the top to the dome to finish browning the toppings.
I typically fire up the oven for over an hour (maybe 1 hr 15 minutes) with the top of the dome almost fully white. Then I push the coals to one side and add some more wood. Once the fire is going across the dome (almost to the other side) I put my pizza in.
I typically use a 1 pound dough for a 15+" pie. This is a pretty thin pizza.
The metal strap idea is interesting although I'll probably try raising the heat after the coals are on the side and move my pizza a bit away. I too raise the pizza for a few seconds to the top of the dome before taking out.
It all seems to be working fine except ( :( )my floor doesn't seem to be retaining enough heat. I do have 3.5-4 inches of vermiculite underneath and now have full insulation on the dome as well.
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