Old 12-06-2010, 04:50 PM
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 81
Default Re: Tall fire, yes. Wide fire too.

Thanks for the suggestions.

I had so much trouble with scorched loaves, I opted to let the oven cool down quite a bit. My 500 was a door temp; the dome and floor were hotter. I will follow your suggestion and go a little hotter next time, maybe 540, now that I have things a little more under control. I'm just pleased not to have 1/8" + of charcoal on the bottom and a little less on the top.

I'm also a little skeptical about how accurate door thermometers are. I've put three oven thermometers in my kitchen oven and gotten three pretty different readings. My 500 may be your 540.

Good point about swabbing later. I can't think of any benefit from swabbing earlier, and using the moisture is a good idea. I did spray quite a bit before loading. I'll swab before loading next time.

Thanks again.

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Old 12-06-2010, 05:41 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Disneyland, CA
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Default Re: Tall fire, yes. Wide fire too.

OMG Jay!

"Oven temp recovery profile". Hmmmmmm!

Another variable to equalizing one's oven! Actually, manipulating your oven's recovery cycle seems like a cool, er, neat process, kind of like how hot to get one's frying pan so an egg dropped onto it absorbs the pan's heat without turning the egg to plastic. I am curious to find out my oven's recovery profile given my soapstone 'floor cap'.

Given this thread's latest information, I am considering reducing my dome height from 19" to 18", thinking that a lower dome will be more efficient at distributing radiant heat, thus reducing the variance of floor/dome temps. Is this sound thinking?

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Old 12-06-2010, 06:14 PM
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Default Re: Tall fire, yes. Wide fire too.

I have not baked bread the same day as I fired the oven, I generally do it the next morning after it has cooled and equalized at around 500-520. Sometimes I have to leave the door off before I begin, but I still always put it back on for a while to equalize it.

A thermo-gun is essential, IMO.
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Old 12-07-2010, 06:32 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: San Antonio
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Default Re: Tall fire, yes. Wide fire too.

Hi Karl!

Door thermometers are sort of useless. At least in my experience. You are right, 500 on the door was likely 550 or more on the hearth so you were "in the range". Pizza doesn't need an IR gun IMO but bread really benefits and allows you to learn how your oven behaves (and to recognize a wet oven that cools way too fast relative to norm!)

In an ideal world when you clean out the coals and shut the door the interior surface of the oven will be 900 to 1100 degrees and the area near the insulation will probably be 500 to 600. The heat soak allows the heat to equalize to say 700 throughout the refractory (though realistically it will be cooler at the outside, near the insulation) and slowly drop to the baking range. Then you have a lot of 550 degree heat stored so that when you cool off the oven with the dough and sprayed water the stored heat can come back to the chamber to bake the bread. Like TS suggests...at the end of baking the temp will be somehat lower - say 400 or so...but if you close the door the temp should rebound back to 475 or 500 or more depending on your oven and how dry it is.

Hang in there!
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Old 12-09-2010, 12:07 PM
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 81
Default Re: Tall fire, yes. Wide fire too.

Thanks for the additional advice. I'll bump up the door temperature about 25 degrees this weekend, and pay more attention to the temperature of the heath, and see how it goes. I'll also pay particular attention to how the oven recovers after the first bake. I may try a larger second bake this time; the three pounds of focaccia I did for a second bake last time didn't really take much heat, and it's a pretty forgiving dough.

Thanks again for the advice.

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Old 12-29-2010, 10:44 PM
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Join Date: May 2010
Location: Portland, OR
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Default Re: Tall fire, yes. Wide fire too.

I am considering reducing my dome height from 19" to 18", thinking that a lower dome will be more efficient at distributing radiant heat
I'm skeptical that the exact shape of the dome or height of the dome plays a significant role in the distribution of radiant heat. I'm working on some calculations to show the intensity of the radiation pattern on the floor for various dome geometries - so we'll see if my intuition on the problem is correct (in a few months).
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Old 12-30-2010, 12:00 AM
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Default Re: Tall fire, yes. Wide fire too.

Originally Posted by mklingles View Post
(in a few months).
A few months...... some of us may be dead before then.......
The English language was invented by people who couldnt spell.

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Old 12-31-2010, 06:37 AM
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Default Re: Tall fire, yes. Wide fire too.

Low domes have been used for a long time. It's believed that Napoleonic ovens are said to use low domes for the better pizza making properties. Seems that i read that here. It makes sense that a lower dome would get the the fire brick closer to the pizza, thus more intense radiation on the pizza.

Personally, I was building a larger 60" oven and the resulting height seemed too high for my comfort. So I adjusted the dome to end up at a specific height which was close to the same height of 48" dome. As I remember, that was around 21". Would have to measure it again. I can't say with a high degree of confidence that the oven does perform better for pizzas, but it I think there is something to that philosophy. I have only cooked i one other oven and that was very briefly. But it does perform well and it has a sweet-spot large enough for 3 or 4 pizzas at once.

I am playing with baking bread now and having a bit of a problem with the tops getting done faster than the bottoms. Need to do more experimenting. As i said previously, my decision to go low dome was because of the larger oven diameter.
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Old 01-06-2011, 03:27 AM
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: saugerties, ny
Posts: 193
Default Re: Tall fire, yes. Wide fire too.

Hi gang,
I just want to give an update of sorts. I printed out a few of these posts because for me there was invaluable information addressing particular needs of mine and two days ago I was able to apply more of what we've discussed - to great success!
I did the perimeter fire again. And again, I love it. Such a fire!
I let it soak and soak. Such heat saturation! (A friend was over, visiting on bake day - shrewd mate - but he had to run an errand, saying he'd be back in an hour, time enough to see the breads go in. But he was gone two+ hours so I let the fire burn longer than I would have otherwise. And this really assured further heat saturation Nicely so.)
After the dome cleared - and had been cleared a while - I spread out the fire and let it be mostly coals. From time to time I tossed on very small logs which caught fire almost immediately, assisted in the heat retention and burned down to rake-able coals soon enough so that I would not be raking out unburnt logs.
I gave up on my friend returning in good time. So I shaped and proofed one batch of dough, waiting about a half hour before shaping and proofing a second load. I raked out the coals, all well burned down to small bits, closed the door and let the temps settle.
Once the hearth was at about 560 or so - I honestly cannot remember - I mopped the hearth and loaded up five Genzano (a new staple in the house from Dan Leader's Local Breads) boules at about 625 gr. ea. and a half dozen rolls at about 125 gr. ea. I closed the door and took a break.
Those babies blossomed - or is it bloomed? Well, they puffed - beautifully. When I took them out maybe 25 - 35 minutes later (again, not only can I not remember, I wasn't timing them anyway. I look & touch and tap. When they're done they'll tell me.) they were drop-dead gorgeous. My knees buckled. I had to catch my breath. I started having visions. I was delirious with delight. But I still had as many whole wheat loaves & rolls in the house waiting their turn at glory.
To date I have not had great success with second loads. It's one of the issues I've been trying to conquer on this thread, and it is something we've discussed here but I have not had the chance up to now to try out what I'd learned. Or suspected I'd learned. (Testing is the point. I needed a bake.)
I closed the door and let the temps get up again. The hearth was registering a high 400, like 480 or more, when I closed the door. Maybe 15 minutes later I checked and the temp was closer to the 500 range and I probably jumped the gun a bit but I loaded the oven anyway. As I sprayed a mist into the oven I worried I was cooling things down too much but I chose to go with the steam anyway as part of the gamble. I closed the door and went inside to stare at the first batch, such beauts!
I figured that as the oven was cooler at the beginning of the second load than it was for the first, it would, logically, take a little more time to bake the breads, so I just settled in for a longer stretch of patience than I might have liked.
A first look into the oven put a smile on my face. As did the second. And final results are that load #2 was as wonderful as #1.
This is a leap for me. And again I want to thank you all for the input. Imagine how much longer we'd all be struggling if left alone to sort things out. Thanks.

Last edited by KEmerson; 01-06-2011 at 03:33 AM.
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Old 01-06-2011, 06:48 AM
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 81
Default Re: Tall fire, yes. Wide fire too.

Kim, your experience matches mine. Heat soaking makes all the difference. I now plan on at least five hours from lighting the fire to loading the oven, including spreading the fire and closing the door, followed by a cooling down, and it's made a huge difference. I can get two large bakes that are great. (Could probably get a third, but two is all the bread I can handle.)

The other thing I've learned from this thread is the benefit of a larger bake. Based on Jay's comments, I now try to do at least 15 pound (6,792 gr) bakes in my 42" Toscana110 and the results have been great. Much less of a problem with scorching, lots of steam from the dough, so better oven spring. Takes a little while after the first bake for the temperature to get back up, but not that long.

This has all taught me that baking in a WFO is fundamentally different than baking in a kitchen oven. It's not just hotter; the bread heats up differently. I'm not an engineer, but it seems clear that much more heat gets to the bread from the hearth (is that conduction?) than on even a high quality oven stone in a kitchen oven, and perhaps there is more radiant heat as well. Certainly the amount of heat stored in an oven stone is minimal compared to that stored in a fully charged WFO hearth, and I'm thinking that in the kitchen oven, most of the heat comes from the hot air (convection?) and less radiates from the walls.

This has been a great thread; thanks to all.

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