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aiannar974 07-27-2012 08:24 PM

Oven Size / Ease of use
Hello Everyone,

I saw the Forno July newsletter today and it went into capacity of an oven. It seemd to me for home use there would not be a need to go too big because volume would not be high and cook time is fast. However, how easy is a small oven to use? Are the newletter capacities difficult to use without a lot of experience? In other words, how much more forgiving are big ovens?

Pizza Oven Size | Pizza Oven Throughput


david s 07-28-2012 12:02 AM

Re: Oven Size / Ease of use
I'm a fan of small ovens. The wood fired oven comes from a tradition in Italy where you have dozens of uncles and aunts, grandparents etc. etc. those movies of the huge long tables outside in the garden in the sun etc. etc. the reality today is that our families are smaller and there is little need for a large oven unles you want to roast a whole pig or goat. How big is the standard domestic oven?
The big advantage of a smaller oven is its economy of fuel use. It won't take a shorter time to heat up, that is more a function of the wall and floor thickness, but if you only want to cook two loaves of bread or pizza for three then the small oven is ideal. It can still cook pizzas for a crowd, but you're probably down to one pizza at a time. We can comfortably cook pizzas for 30 and have done parties up to 70 with our 21", but there are times that I wish it were bigger, although there are many more times that I'm glad it is so small. You tend to use a small oven more often.

WJW 07-28-2012 12:28 AM

Re: Oven Size / Ease of use
I think it depends on who you are, what your needs are, and the availability/cost of wood.

I have what I would imagine is a rather large oven as far as residential ovens go. It is a barrel vault style and measures 36 inches wide by 40 inches deep. I love it and wouldn't want it to be any smaller. I think a larger oven is much easier to use. That being said...I think that it probably takes more wood to heat it. I'm not really clear on how much less though because I think the rate at which an oven heats is more limted by the rate at which firebricks can accept energy than any other factor. Said another way...the vast majority of the energy generated by burning wood goes out the chimney because firebricks can't possible soak up all that heat before it goes out the chimney.

My guess is that a higher percentage of energy released in burning wood is captured by a larger oven than by a smaller one. I say that simply because the hot gases travel across more surface area in a larger oven than a smaller one. The bottom line is that I think it's complicated. I'd love to see some data on how much a given quanity of wood increases the temp of varying sized ovens. I expect that there is not a linear relationship to the size. But that's a guess.

A big oven has very clear advantages. I can cook ten loaves of bread at one time...I can cook four pizzas at one time (but that's keeping me plenty busy and would prefer to cook no more than two or three at once)...I can cook a whole bunch of things at once...or I can cook one small pizza. I tend to cook a lot in my oven. I entertain a lot. I bake bread. I use my oven very very frequently. I don't think my oven has dropped to ambient temperature for more than ten percent of the time over the last three months. If the situation were such that I only cooked a pizza or two for my immediate family...I might feel different.

It's a choice thing...I like the fact that the big oven allows you more flexibility.


david s 07-28-2012 04:33 AM

Re: Oven Size / Ease of use

If I had an oven like yours it would probably become a priority in my life, which I can't really afford in terms of time consumed ( that is a compliment in case you misinterpreted it )
On the question of fuel usage I weighed the amount of fuel used in a dry oven and it worked out to 4kg to reach 350C in my 21" oven. That makes cooking one loaf a distinct possibility on an evening whim.


ronh 07-28-2012 05:57 AM

Re: Oven Size / Ease of use
I've got the 28 inch primavera and based upon reading some posts, figured I'd eventually want to 'trade up'. Now, I can't imagine that ever happening. For me, the size is perfect. I can't imagine wanting to cook more than one pizza at a time, the work is making them, not cooking them for me. And I can fit anything else I want right now. Love this little oven.

aiannar974 07-28-2012 06:19 AM

Re: Oven Size / Ease of use
Thank you for the info. I am not really worried about fuel usage otherwise I would use my house oven. There is the fun factor and taste that I am after but I dont want to burn pizzas because I cannot manage them. I have a friend that has an oven in the 40+ range and I have never seen him handle more than two pizzas. To be honest, they cannot keep the oven flowing with eoungh pizzas.

On a smaller oven, do you tend to over cook or burn the side of the pizza next to the fire?

Thank you,


texassourdough 07-28-2012 06:53 AM

Re: Oven Size / Ease of use
Hi Anthony!

I have a 1 meter Casa and after having a moderate size oven I can't imaging going down to a 28 like ronh. It "feels" way tight and constricted. As it is I have wood and coals filling most of the right half of my oven and bake pies on the left. A 1 meter oven gives you plenty of room. OTOH it takes about 12 pounds of dough to have enough bread in the oven to give a great crust without major humidificaiton efforts so... there are advantages to smaller ovens! While many on this listserve have bigger ovens, I think a 36 is a really nice compromise between small and large.

Good Luck!

WJW 07-29-2012 10:07 PM

Re: Oven Size / Ease of use
Apparently...everyone is happy with the oven they have. Beautiful! I think, as a rule, a person who puts an oven in their backyard puts a great deal of thought and research to the project. ( I know I did.) I guess the result of that process is that we are likely to end up with what we are looking for in an oven.

David...that is a very impressive stat. on the wood! What level of saturation is that? In other words, how much masonry have you heated to that temp? Is that an IR reading off the surface, or is a thermocouple reading from some given number of inches of brick from the hot face?

I need to weigh some wood to generate that type of data. I'd like to know that stuff.

On a happy note...had a cocktail party at my house last night for sixty-five people as a pre-party for my thirty year high school reunion (The reunion was today.). Cooked five large sheet pan (approx 12x18) sized foccia bread pizzas right as people began to arrive, put them on some platters, and put away my peel to enjoy the party with my guests. I threw a bunch of logs in the oven and the roaring fire visible through the entry served as a great backdrop for the party around the pool. In conversation it turns out that one of my old good buddy classmates who I'd lost contact with is in the process of removing and re-planting several old citrus and avocado orchards which are past their prime. In the process they are also clearing a bunch of eucalyptis and several large oaks which have died. It seems that wood availability has just gone through the roof for me. Oak for a hundred bucks a cord, avocado for a bit less. Basically, just enough to cover the cost of his farm hands to cut it and drop it in my driveway. Two cords of oak are coming this week.

david s 07-30-2012 04:23 AM

Re: Oven Size / Ease of use
"that is a very impressive stat. on the wood! What level of saturation is that? In other words, how much masonry have you heated to that temp? Is that an IR reading off the surface, or is a thermocouple reading from some given number of inches of brick from the hot face?"

It is not as fully saturated as I would usually do for cooking pizza. I was just interested to find out how much wood I'd used to get to that temp. The walls of my ovenware 2" thick, floor 2.5 " and it took about 1hr 15 mins to get to that temp. My thermometer is about half way up the dome. If I'd used an infrared thermometer at the apex of the dome on the inside I'm sure it would have read a lot higher. The dome was completely white at that point. I think the fuel used is probably a function of oven volume. Of course the bigger the oven will mean the bigger the fire and of course the great er the volume of fuel consumed.

WJW 07-30-2012 06:35 PM

Re: Oven Size / Ease of use
I'm sure you're correct on that David. I'm just curious as to what does what. I need to weigh some wood and see how much oak it takes to fully saturate my oven. My guess, based on past usage, is that it takes about tweny-five pounds of wood to do the job. I base that estimate on the fact that I typically start my fire with about six pieces of wood which are each about three to five inches in diameter and about eighteen inches long. I let that burn for thirty to forty-five minutes and then add two or three more of the same size. I figure on average they weigh a bit under three pounds each.

That amount of wood will saturate my oven to the point I can cook a bunch of ninety second pizzas, bread the next day, and slow cook meat (like a pork shoulder) the day after that.

I am not counting the wood used to keep active flame over the pizza as I'm cooking them. That depends how many pizzas I cook, but it's probably an additional two pounds of wood per ten pizzas.

These ovens are fun.

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