#11  
Old 10-28-2006, 10:09 AM
CanuckJim's Avatar
Il Pizzaiolo
 
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Location: Prince Albert, Ontario, Canada
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Default Swabbing and Steam

Everybody,

Generally speaking, I agree with what's been said here regarding pizza baking on a deliberately low mass floor. You do not want to lower your temp at all, therefore swabbing is probably not a good idea.

The comments that follow have to do with bread baking. When my burn has gone to ash, I rake out, then brush (brass), seal the opening with the door, then let the oven moderate for about two hours, to a hearth temp of about 600 F of thereabouts. My peak temp just after firing would be in 900 range. Although the hearth temp has dropped quite a bit during this time, the slab and cladding temps have raised to around 450 F for each.

Then I swab out the remaining ash; the hearth temp might drop a degree or two, but that's all, but my oven is very high mass. For swabbing, I made a handle, cut a groove around one end and wired on an old piece of towel. The towel is used damp, not wet, to clean up the remaining ash. I have encountered zero problems with cracking, mortar falling, etc., doing this or injecting steam, but my refractory mortar joints are very tight.

Swabbing contributes very little to steam content in the oven, but I should stress this is done very quickly, with a wrung out, damp piece of towel. Once I've finished with swabbing, I give the oven a long spray with a garden sprayer, then seal again. I can't be absolutely sure, but I don't think the fine mist spray actually ever contacts the bricks; it goes to steam in the superheated air. I spray again once the breads are loaded to make sure there is visible steam in the oven chamber. I've already posted the benefits of this with hearth breads. I can see no detrimental effects inside the oven from doing this.

In France, commercial wood fired brick ovens have steam injection systems that are controlled by the head baker.

All of us know that a little ash won't hurt you, but I'm dealing with the public for my breads, and 90 per cent of them wouldn't be very understanding if the bottoms of my breads had ash on them. Besides, I like to point out the impressions of the hearth brick on the undersides of my kilo hearth breads. There's a certain wow factor in it, and if I had to brush off ash to show them, it would be, umm, distracting.

I'm not at all sure about the wisdom of swabbing or steam with cast refractory FB ovens; this would be more James' topic.

Jim
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  #12  
Old 10-29-2006, 10:20 AM
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Alf Alf is offline
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Interesting difference in words and meanings. What you guys across the pond call “swabbing out” an oven we call “Scuffling” the oven

Lets not get confused on this subject, we are talking about high mass low temperature (lower than pizza ovens) bread ovens in this case.

The ovens we use this technique in are from two – four meters deep so you would need one big long brass brush and a lot of time to clean the oven. Generally we use a hollow mild steel of wooden ash pole roughfully the same length as the depth of the oven. At the business end of the pole is attached a swivel and choke chain that one would use to walk a large dog. The choke chain is then choked or closed round the middle of a damp but not wet Hessian sack. Once placed inside of the oven the wet sack is rotated or swivelled around the oven floor by agitating the pole in a rotating manner.

The action of the rotating scuffle and the evaporating steam has the effect of lifting the ash from the ovens floor and suspending it in the hot air of the oven. As the hot air and resulting steam rushes to leave the oven chamber and exit up the ovens flue the suspended ash exits the oven thus leaving a clean oven for baking. For smaller oven we use a normal string type mop head on a long handle.

We have ovens with tight airset cement joints; wide refractory mortar and lime based joints and have no problems with this scuffling method of cleaning the oven floor.

Don’t scuffle a hot pizza oven, for one, there is no need as the oven is much smaller than a commercial oven and you cant afford to loose any hearth temperature. The brass brush is just fine for the job.

Steam

As Jim says the garden spray works good, we have ovens working with that type of operation, also, with water in containers inside the oven. One oven is well into the twenty first century, we installed two steam lances down each side of the oven chamber and they are serviced by a dedicated live steam boiler. The baker can chose how much, and over what period of time he want to flood the oven with live steam and thus influence the crust and appearance of the product.

There are many different methods of injecting or creating steam in a commercial oven; I wont go into them here as we are usually talking pizzas. If any one is interested I will get some photos of the various steam injection methods and post them.

Alf
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  #13  
Old 10-29-2006, 12:22 PM
CanuckJim's Avatar
Il Pizzaiolo
 
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Location: Prince Albert, Ontario, Canada
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Default Steam Systems

Alf,

I'd be very interesting in seeing pictures of steam injection systems. I've been messing about with using the garden sprayer when my hearth breads are just loaded, then again in about two minutes, once they've set. As you know, this affects the crust and caramelization. Having the ability to inject steam without opening the door would be a benefit.

My steam methods come from my reading and plain old experimentation.

Jim
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  #14  
Old 11-13-2006, 06:00 PM
Peasant
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Santol. Boac, Marinduque, RP
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Default Need Help

I have a 3 x3 hearth with a 18'' wide and 20'' long antichamger or area before the hearth by the oven door. I plan on having an oven door made this afternoon using a two pieces of plywood and a wooden handle on the outside. The
two pieces of plywood will be seperated bt two peices of coconut lumber that we cut from our coconut trees using a chain saw and a graphit laidened string.
We are still having problems with the oven maintaining heat. I hope the door will help. Any other suggestions.
The oven has a clay brick floor and a dome height of about 18 inches and a door arch ove 15 inches and a with of about 20 inches.
Thanks for any and all suggestions.
JJ
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  #15  
Old 11-27-2006, 09:51 AM
Peasant
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: thailand
Posts: 33
Default coconut wood

Can someone please tell me the advantages of coconut wood? I live in the tropics were coconut trees are in abundance. I am half way through building my pizza oven (36"igloo). Is it able to withstand high heat or something. I have read a few references to coconut wood without the explanation.
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  #16  
Old 11-27-2006, 10:37 AM
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Talk about being outside of your experience base.

Does anyone is the group have experience with tropical woods? I can't' even venture a guess, but I am very interested in learning more.
James
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  #17  
Old 11-27-2006, 06:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beammeup View Post
Can someone please tell me the advantages of coconut wood? I live in the tropics were coconut trees are in abundance. I am half way through building my pizza oven (36"igloo). Is it able to withstand high heat or something. I have read a few references to coconut wood without the explanation.
There was some other post, perhaps from a member in the Philippines, which talked about 'coco lumber', I seem to remember...

From my limited experience with palms, their 'timber' or 'lumber' is very stringy and sappy, I have a feeling this might not be the right stuff to burn in a high-heat oven. But I live and learn: I have some Canary Island palms which I cut down and uprooted (because they are pests in the bush) - I'll try to burn some of the stuff once my oven is built and report the experience.

Cheers,

Carioca

Last edited by carioca; 11-27-2006 at 06:32 PM. Reason: typos, what eles?!
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  #18  
Old 11-27-2006, 10:47 PM
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Default sometimes I feel like a nut

JayJay has talked about coconut charcoal (made from shells) and burning coconut shell husks directly - I scanned back through his posts and did not see any mention of burning the coconut lumber itself. It looks like he has done ok with mango wood. Jayjay does mention on an earlier post on this thread using coconut lumber in his door construction between two layers of plywood. He mentions that it was cut with a chainsaw - presumably it's challenging to split this wood? Jayjay, are you out there to address this?
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