Getting started! Help! Marcel??
Hello all. I haven't posted in awhile and have spent the winter studying ovens both inside and out (finished design). What I've learned is the more I study the more confusing I see this process is.
Marcel mentioned in one post that one of the most important decision to make BEFORE building is how you will finish the oven. Why is this important? Rather, if I have decided to use a hard exterior of some sort (rather than wood cladding, or metal) but don't know EXACTLY the stone (brick? stone? cinderblock?) - am I prepared enough?
I have been told a number of times an Alan Scott oven is better for bread (my main intention) and Forno Bravo is better for pizza. I've also been told that the Scott oven is better for bread than Rado Hand's oven (due to thicker cladding).
Are these things true????? (For clarifcation, I am only baking bread for myself/friends etc. I'm not doing this professionally. I won't need successive baking capability but, if I am going to all this trouble for the holy grail of perfect bread, I want a REALLY REALLY great bread oven).
I also see there is a huge difference in how people pour the hearth foundation. Alan Scott floats his on rebar. Rado doesn't. Some people say the Scott method allows the rebar exposure to air, and thus rust, which might weaken it. Is this true? Could I pour a Rado-style hearth foundation but have the thick cladding of an Alan Scott oven?
Since I am as NEWBIE as it gets I don't really have the confidence to start vamping on a design. Ideally I'd pick a really straightforward design (I have to say the Scott floating thing seems really hard) and stick with it.
Sorry this is so long and rambling. I hope someone out there will jump in here.
best wishes - hope winter was good for you all!
S.O.S. Help? is on the weigh!
(M) I apologize if my message about an important decision was less than clear. Let me try to qualify it better.
[ Maria ] "Marcel mentioned in one post that one of the most important decision to make BEFORE building is how you will finish the oven. Why is this important? Rather, if I have decided to use a hard exterior of some sort (rather than wood cladding, or metal) but don't know EXACTLY the stone (brick? stone? cinderblock?) - am I prepared enough?
(M) The reason I feel that this is important is that if you are going to protect your oven dome with some kind of housing, irrespective of whether it is to be
"(brick? stone? cinderblock?) - am I prepared enough?", you ARE prepared enough. If you don't cover your oven dome then you want to be meticulous in that dome finish as it will be highly visible. Some builders took great care making beautiful arches only to hide them with a housing after all that work.
[ Maria ] "I have been told a number of times an Alan Scott oven is better for bread (my main intention) and Forno Bravo is better for pizza. I've also been told that the Scott oven is better for bread than Rado Hand's oven (due to thicker cladding).
(M) From the reading on this forum I've done it seems that the main distinction is not between the Alan Scott & Rado Hand design, which both use a rectangular footprint, but between the rectangular footprint of their ovens and the circular one of the Pompeii oven to which most builders on this forum subscribe.
(M) Since you write that:
[Maria] "I'm not doing this professionally. I won't need successive baking capability but, if I am going to all this trouble for the holy grail of perfect bread, I want a REALLY REALLY great bread oven).
(M) I feel that the Pompeii oven has the qualities that will best suit your needs. I wrestled with this decision of [__] foot print versus ( ) footprint and decided for several reasons to go with the circular perimeter:
1- Less thermal mass means less heat up time
2- Less heat up time means less fuel to burn
3- Less mass in construction means less cost in dollars
4- I prefer the look of the unhoused Pompeii, and if, as I did, decide to house it, I found the smaller size lended itself more aesthetically to my taste. The A.S. seems too massive. Many end up looking like a crypt to me.
5- I'm not sure that the igloo dome is any more difficult to build than the vaulted ceiling and when done correctly, a dome may actually be stronger.
6- This forum's builders have been very generous with their support and knowledgable about the specifics of a Pompeii (circular) footprint.
(M) Rather than post a lot of redundant material I've already offered, I hope you'll free to write directly to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
(M) While I've made many errors in building my oven, those errors have given me the opportunity to rethink how I could have done things better. I hope that this helps.
I think you are going about this in the right way. Thinking about how you want to use the oven before you start thinking about the details of how to build it should get you off on the right foot. That's a mistake I made when I built my first Scott oven (of course the Pompeii plans weren't available then :D ).
One question I would ask myself is how much bread you want to bake? Are you looking to bake 100+ loaves per firing, 10-20, or 5-10?
And how often you want to fire the oven? Daily, where the oven is always hot like a commercial bakery, or less frequently, where the oven will completely cool off.
If you are going to bake 20 or less loaves per firing, and fire your oven from scratch each time, I would highly recommend the Pompeii design. The Italian brick oven does a great job of a single batch of bread, and they are much easier to fire. As Marcel noted, you save time as well as money (and the environment) on wood fuel. The other advantage is that the Pompeii design is better at other types of cooking, such as fire-in-the-oven, pizza, and higher heat cooking.
A good size Pompeii oven can easily bake 20+ loaves at a time, and the oven bakes with retained heat and steam -- which is what you are looking for to bake the best bread. There is no better oven for baking bread at home. The idea that the Scott oven is "better for bread" is just plain wrong.
If you are looking for multiple batches per firing (100+ loaves a day), I would definitely go with the Scott design. The Scott design is also good for continuous use, where it s fired every day, and never cools down. After all, it's a commerical bread oven design.
I got into brick ovens baking bread primarily, and now enjoy the pizza, roasts, grills, etc., and the range of other things you can cook. As a baker, you will enjoy either design, and if you go with the Pompeii design you will be very happy with how it performs for bread.
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