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Faith In Virginia 11-06-2010 08:49 AM

surface temps
I got got my oven up and running and I took a shot at some pizza and bread. the bread was fine but the pizza stuck to the floor and charred in seconds. I have thermocouples in the oven but they are all an inch or more out from the interior. I just got my hand held surface temp reader and I would like to know what surface temps work for cooking different items.

Thanks for your help

fxpose 11-06-2010 09:28 AM

Re: surface temps
I wait until the dome interior clears (turns white, top to bottom) for pizza.
Instead of using my IR thermometer I rely on the oven door temp gauge for doing roasts, bread, and low and slow type cooks. It's always there, monitoring dome air temp constantly.
I rarely use my IR thermometer now.

DaveW 11-10-2010 05:51 PM

Re: surface temps
Hi Faith,

I am interested in your bread baking experiences. You mentioned in the "reveal" thread that you have 7 inches of firebrick in the floor. As I mentioned we went with the 4.5 inches to have a better bread baking oven also. My wife has been making fantastic naturally leavened bread in our home gas oven on a baking stone for years but she is just now getting into using the brick oven.

I find that for Pizza a surface temp of around 375c with the IR works great. Any hotter and the flower burns, colder and the dough doesn't crisp up as much. To maintain that temp I need a pretty good flame in the oven, but need to wait 10-15 minutes after mopping the floor for it to settle down. For bread, we use the thermometer in the oven door. 500F seems about right for a rustic bread, 450-470 for a golden baguette style loaf.

The learning process is turning out to be a lot of fun, although we are using quite a bit of wood.

Also, it takes awhile to cure the oven. The first pizzas we made were nowhere near as good as 10 firings or so later. In fact the oven keeps getting better.

Have Fun,


Faith In Virginia 11-11-2010 04:34 PM

Re: surface temps
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Thanks Dave,

Your temps are something for me to look at and work with and will be a great help in dialing in the oven.

I have been baking bread for many years, mostly yeasted breads in the oven. About a year ago I jumped in head first into sourdoughs and have not looked back. I'm starting to build my three starters for a bake this weekend.

I'll attach a picture of my first bake in my oven it was a real success for me. Check out the construction zone baking and my fancy hand made table. but I have some nice peals and that's a start.

It's good to know the oven will get better the more I use it. I do have a lot to learn. Wood is not a problem for me I have so much wood to burn I use to put it in my burn pit and have big fires to make it go away. Now I'm making piles for the oven.

I noticed your in Virginia, What part? I'm down near Christiansburg.

DaveW 11-11-2010 05:50 PM

Re: surface temps
4 Attachment(s)
Hi Faith,

Your bread looks great! My wife (Tee) is from Rome, Italy and she keeps a sourdough barm alive for her breads. We still haven't totally dialed in the oven yet. We soak the wood door so that it doesn't burn and it adds a little steam in the oven. I may make an insulated steel door though, as we loose a lot of heat overnight. It would be nice to be able to bake the bread the morning after a pizza party. With the wood door we are down to about 350F the next day.

We are about 4 hours from Christiansburg near Dulles Airport.


DaveW 11-13-2010 05:08 PM

Re: surface temps
1 Attachment(s)

We did pizza again tonight and I paid closer attention to the IR on the surface. 375c makes good American pizza or Focaccia - no black spots and well cooked. But, for authentic Roman pizza we needed 400c to 410c surface temps. Pizzas cook fast and and come out crispy and rustic. Note: to get away with the hotter temps the crust has to be very thin.


Faith In Virginia 11-14-2010 08:13 AM

Re: surface temps
2 Attachment(s)
Yum Dave,

That looks good!

Thanks for your attention to the temps. This time around I had my IR so I could get a reference of what was going on. So even though my thermocouples in the oven were one thing the surface temps were quite different at times during firing the surface was 500f degree hotter than one inch into the brick.

After I took out the coals I closed up the oven and gave it 1-1/2 hours to regulate the heat then I swabbed it out before I loaded the bread. The IR was handy because it let me know that the floor was too hot to load bread so I was able to let it get right before I got started.

Yesterday I did 4 runs of bread and the oven was ready for more. After a long day I had a pizza dough in the fridge so in quick time I through together a quick pizza. With no fire in the box and the floor at about 425f it cooked a nice pizza.

Thanks for the surface temp vs types of pizzas that is just where I made my mistake on my first attempt. Thick pizza and super hot floor.

Your right my oven is better even from the last firing it got hotter quicker and used less wood so it will be cool when it's at it's peak.

Here is a few pictures of my yesterday on the in the oven is the Vermont sourdough, then some baguetts, 66% rye and 40% whole wheat.

david s 11-14-2010 08:17 AM

Re: surface temps
Try the old method of throwing a little semolina on the floor. If it turns black in 2secs it's too hot, if it turns black in 3 secs, then just right, 4secs then too cold.

DrakeRemoray 11-14-2010 09:16 PM

Re: surface temps
Great looking bread. Is that all from a single firing? Did you add any extra mass to your oven? That is a good picture to show someone who thinks the Pompeii plan will not be suitable for bread baking and is thinking about a barrel oven. More heat than you can use!

Faith In Virginia 11-15-2010 06:20 AM

Re: surface temps
Yes that is a single firing. 4 rounds of 10 loaves each and it was good to go for more on that one firing. I now need to look into long slow cooking items for after the main bake.

Extra mass you bet. I have 7 inches of mass in the floor and walls. I also have 4 inches + of ceramic insulation over the dome. I have 3.5 inches of vermiculite and Portland cement in 5 to one ratio under the oven. This I think is my weak point. On a do over I would put some thick insulation board underneath. Two days after the firing I felt the under part of the oven support (through 7" fire brick, 3.5 vermiculite insulation and 6" of concrete ) and it was warm to the touch.

I still need to work on my door I was baking after dark and the light reveled lots of steam escaping through the chimney. My door is heavy 4 inches of vermiculite packed in a steel casing. It works well but is heavy. My plan is to add some rope to the door and use it for a long shut down and make a lighter door for while I'm baking. I want to put a window, light and thermometer in the light weight door. I will test the oven glass prior to putting food and glass together just in case the glass won't hold up.

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