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james 03-18-2005 02:37 PM

Why Italian Ovens are Round
3 Attachment(s)
This is the Why Round posting. We can add to it over time, and refer back to it.

1. The Round Oven design heats up much faster than the barrel vault oven -- less than an hour, compared with 2-3 hours or more for the heavier oven. The round dome is self-standing (ala the Duomo in Florence), so it does not need a lot of concrete clapping to hold it together. The barrel vault has a great deal of outward thrust, and needs a lot of concrete for buttressing. The round oven is lighter and depending on the material, will heat in an hour (or less depending on the type). Modern refractory ovens are designed with speed in mind, and heat up in about 40 minutes (not much longer than Kingsford). The barrel vault oven burns more wood (which isn't good for the environment or your pocketbook). For many, the heat up time is the difference between using my oven after work, or not. Round oven owners use their ovens a couple of times a week, and I know barrel vault oven owners that never fire their ovens.

2. The Round Oven can reach high Pizza Heat. Pizza should cook at around 700F, even higher. The round oven can reach and hold that heat, cooking pizza for long periods of time. The heavier oven has real trouble reaching and holding those high temperatures. The problem with too much thermal mass is that the heat from your fire has to heat the entire mass. That means that heat is continually moving away from the inside of you oven, where you want it for cooking, toward the outer edge of the thermal mass. That continues to happen until the entire mass is heated, which can take a very, very long time.

3. The Round Oven is designed for fire-in-the-oven cooking and pizza. With a round oven you have room for your fire on one side, and food/pizza on the other side and in the back. It's all reachable. With a 32x36 rectangular oven, there isn't a good place for the fire. If you put it on one side, you have very little room for food on the other side, and you cannot access the back. If you put the fire in the back, the heat and flame does not reflect to the front of the oven. A 35" round gives you much more usable space than a 32x36. For all the effort you are going to be putting into installing a wood-fired oven, a 32x36 rectangular oven is a one-pizza oven -- which is a shame.

4. The Round Oven cooks more evenly. The round, spherical dome does a better job of bouncing heat evenly on the cooking floor. You can cook pizza everywhere (or roasts and veggies) in the oven, and it cooks evenly. That is how the high volume pizzerias cook all those pizzas. The rectangular oven has a barrel vault, which gives you hot and cool spots, depending where the fire it.

There are also little things, like clean up.

The downside (if there is one) is that a pizza oven can only bake around 20-30 loaves of bread from a single firing, not 75. But for a home oven, that works for me. I make more bread than we could ever eat, and I give lots away.

There are about a million pizza ovens in Italy, and they are all round. I also think it is interesting that there is a lot of wood-fired oven bread in Italy (Pane Cotta a Legna), which is baked in large commercial brick bread ovens -- which are rectangular barrel vault oven. I think the idea is that there are two basic oven designs: pizza oven and bread ovens, and you need to think about how you want to use your oven.

minnman 04-04-2005 10:35 AM

thanks for info
alot to learn.want to build one on a will do alot of lurking. thanks again doug

james 04-04-2005 01:04 PM

Trailer oven

Stay tuned. There are going to be some postings soon on trailer ovens. Very fun.


pmikal 05-23-2005 09:37 PM

Pizza cart
I'd love a trailer oven or, even better, a pizza cart. I've looked at getting the Solo Pizza Cart, but 20k seems too expensive.

james 05-26-2005 07:11 AM

We're building them and they will be available through Forno Bravo. Portables make so much sense, and are widely used around the world.

There are a number of ways of tackling the requirement. There is the large, full-service trailer like Inzo's Place, the "pull behind" trailer that we are building for Farmer's Markets, and "roll around" carts that can be trucked to the site, then rolled into place for catering and parties.

We're excited about watching the market grow and mature.


david 05-26-2005 10:02 AM

Where is that Inzo's Place located?

james 05-26-2005 10:14 AM

Las Vegas. Noel's family is originally from Sicily, so if you fly there you'll get a great pizza.


pmikal 05-26-2005 11:45 AM

Big Green Truck
My favorite truck oven is the Big Green Truck. I first saw it listed in a Costco newsletter.

rollo 12-28-2005 04:04 PM

Hi can anyone advise me? Am having difficulty accessing fire bricks. ARE normal red solids ok ? are white solids better any info would be apptreciated. I am in the northern rivers NSW australia

dmun 12-29-2005 07:35 PM

Fire brick
Fire brick are a standard building supply item. They are the yellow colored bricks that line the inside of masonry fireplaces. They have a higher alumina content that allow them to withstand extremes of temperature, and rapid changes in temperature. You can go to a special refractory supplier, and get better than standard fire bricks, but there is no advantage for an oven project.

Good luck with your oven.

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