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nissanneill 06-17-2007 05:07 AM

Neill's Pompeii #10
4 Attachment(s)
(I started a new thread because I cannot find my #9 posting and Maver's response. Other posts are on my oven construction are found in Neill's Pompeii #4 and starting in the Pompeii oven construction thread)
Sunday 17th June.
It’s up late (what else do you do but sleep in on a Sunday) and make up 2 batches of dough for the family feast of pizza. Repositioned and re-wired the down lights in the oven stainless vent hood and ran the cabling through the hood in heat resistant fiberglass braided tubing. I also packed the back of the lights (especially the wiring), with the offcuts from the thermal blanket. It worked an absolute treat with no excessive heat affecting the power cables and shorting out the lights.
Just got that job done when Paul “Hendo” arrived to check out the oven and to collect a ‘left over bag’ of fire clay.
I made another log support out of scrap metal in order to set a larger and wider fire, now, almost the full width of the oven.
I lit the rather large fire at 4:00 pm, (as I was determined to get it hotter than last night) I continually stoked and loaded it with longer lengths of dry hardwood (Jarrah and gum) and it was ready to cook at 5:30. The whole of the dome was white this time but without the thermocouples and/or the infra red digital thermometer, still not able to check the final temperatures.
Although we initially used alfoil to cook the pizzas on, the latter pizzas were prepared and cooked bare bottomed. A little salt on the square edged peel had the pizzas sliding beautifully onto the hot hearth, puffing at the edge and cooking wonderfully.
The whole family was very impressed, with some going back for seconds. I finished the night by cooking two pizzas which I intend to take for ‘show and tell’ tomorrow at work.
I still need to master the reduction of the dough balls to a thin flat base


maver 06-17-2007 06:01 AM

Re: Neill's Pompeii #10
Neill, you really have an elegant oven opening design.

Keep working with those bare bottomed pizzas. Some people have reported a preference for semolina rather than flour to help it slide better. I use flour and it works well, but there is a technique involved. Be sure to give the pizza a small shake when you have it on the peel - hold it horizontally and just get some movement in it prior to sliding it into the oven.

With those three pizzas in there you don't have as much flame as I usually use while baking pizza - I know you are waiting for temperature measurements but my guess is you could keep a bit more wood on the fire while baking. Have you tried with the fire all to one side instead of in back?

nissanneill 06-17-2007 06:17 AM

Re: Neill's Pompeii #10
Hi Maver
this was only my second try and still very green when it comes to wood fired oven cooking. This is certainly a science when it comes to the whole deal. It is one thing to build one (relatively easy) but the heat control and use, (making, and baking in one) is quite new to me.
There were very hot coals but I haven't attempted to keep fire in the oven. The first pizzas cooked in around 3 minutes but could obviously been even hotter. I should get my thermocouples and infra red thermometer for the next firing for a better guide to temperatures.
I found that salt on the peel helped the easy placement into the oven but I also need to educate the rest of the family not to push the sticky side of the balls onto the board that we use to make up the flattened base and assembled the toppings.
They don't look the flashest but they certainly taste great.
I try to refrain from using flour as the forum pointed out that it burns very quickly and easily, spoiling the taste.
It only goes to prove my point of what I claim to my students, in that "the more I learn, the more I realise how little I know"!


maver 06-17-2007 08:40 AM

Re: Neill's Pompeii #10
I disagree with the flour concern - it's what I use, and probably most of us, and it works fine.

Some flours burn easier than others. I think at some point everyone ought to try the caputo flour - it really works better. I'd wait until you've made enough to feel like you've worked out the kinks - it doesn't burn as easily and gives a great crust. For now, I suggest you use a blend of cake 25% and a good bread flour (75%) - I liked the fineness of the cake flour and the blend brings you down to the proper protein %.

How did the salt affect the taste???

RTflorida 06-17-2007 05:00 PM

Re: Neill's Pompeii #10
I started with the Caputo and will never use anything else. I love the crust, the only other times I had crust similar were the pizzas I ate in Naples...I wonder why. I am starting to play with the hydration and such, but the Caputo is here to stay. As for burning, I think just about anything you may use (Caputo, Semolina, corn meal) can and will burn at the hearth temps we use. Practice makes perfect, you will figure out how much and what temp makes the best pizza for you. Many (myself included) like a little charing on our crust.


Bacterium 06-17-2007 07:04 PM

Re: Neill's Pompeii #10
good work Neil....its fun to get to the actual eating part :D
If you struggle with the peel, try aluminium trays....I use them with very little (almost no flour) and it helps me get a decent base as the dough soon releases from the tray and then you can whip it out to let it cook the crust on the oven floor.

I've worked my oven out know where I can get top and bottom cooked consistently within 3minutes. So the more you do the more you will "read" the oven.....

In regards to the Caputo, has anyone here in Australia tried getting it? Is it cost effective?.......would be really keen to try it.
I currently have tried "pizza dough" flour from a couple local bread bake shops....that can vary in price and quality.

nissanneill 06-18-2007 04:06 AM

Re: Neill's Pompeii #11 - Oven illumination
5 Attachment(s)
Monday 18th June
Just catching up on the great feedback from other forum members and I thought that I should share my oven light set-up which works fantastically.
I initially wired up two 240volt normal non adjustable domestic household downlights with a couple of short extension cords but the heat entering the vent cooked the cables and shorted them out on Saturday's pizza test session. I then rewired them on Sunday running the cabled through the stainless hood using extra high temperature fibreglass braided tube and keeping the same short extension leads away from the hot hood (especially since I had twice the fire on Sunday night's cook-up). I also packed the back of the light's stainless mounts with offcut and left over thermal blanket and on checking the heat of the hood surrounding the cabling exit points, found them only warm - nowhere hot enough to cause trouble during pizza baking.
See the pics to see how I cut and shaped the thinner stainless and tack welded them to the hood ensuring that they were aimed across the openning and well into the oven.
It is almost impossible to see what you are doing without them as my family experienced when I turned them off, even with a 100 watt floodlight mounted under the house eaves directly behind the 'chef'.

To Maver, RTflorida and Bacterium,
thank you for your input and I will take them all on board together with further experimentation.


james 06-18-2007 04:39 AM

Re: Neill's Pompeii #10
Hey Neill,

One more thing. I moved your posting on your first pizzas here to the pizza category. I thought it would add a lot of good information there. That's where your #9 got to.

Take a look.

Bacterium 06-18-2007 11:30 PM

Re: Neill's Pompeii #10
a couple things to add about lighting (I'm a licensed sparky)....from an Oz point of view

The ELV downlights are a safer option (240Volt goes to a transformer which on the others side comes out as 12v and goes down to the globe as that.) in comparison to the LV (240 Volt only - all the way to the globe - no transformer)

With some ELV downlight types (eg. Clipsal dual head units) the leads from the transformer to the 12v globe is over a meter. Which means you can then put the transformer(and mains lead which is 240v) further away from your heat source .....also the globes are usually cheaper (about AUS$4 each)

Having said all that.... if you use LV (240Volt) downlights make sure the earth is good - and that it is fed off of a circuit from your safety switch (to reduce the risk of electric shock.

Looking at your setup Neil has got me thinking about something for mine tho ;)

james 06-19-2007 03:33 AM

Re: Neill's Pompeii #10

Your lights are very cool. Nice job. It really puts a lot of light in the oven opening. Does it also light up the inside of the oven pretty well? Very nice work.

Are they going to get a little sooty over time? I guess you can just clean them ocassionally.


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