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mikereeder 07-19-2011 03:39 PM

Over Heating! Help please.
 
I lit my first big fire yesterday after curing my Pompei for a few weeks. Oven floor temp was around 250C (480F) after firing for 2 hours and the pizza took a very long time to cook. Today, I started the fire around an hour earlier resulting in a floor temp around 450C (840F), problem is that the pizza base burnt in a few seconds.
Questions:
1). How do you know when to stop loading the fire?
2). What floor temp should I aim for when cooking pizza?
3). If the floor starts to cool too fast, should I rake the ash over the whole floor again or just re-load the fire at the side of the cooking floor?
4). Is the semolina method a better gauge than a laser thermometer? If so, what are the rules for the semolina burning?

We have 10 friends coming over this weekend for their first pizza so help would be appreciated.
Thanks, Mike

Neil2 07-20-2011 12:46 PM

Re: Over Heating! Help please.
 
I find 800 F or so is fine. The first pizza in will usually burn a bit on the bottom. I call this one the "Sacrifice to the Pizza God". It is still generally tasty. Subsequent pizzas will have less burning.

If you think it is too hot, just let it cool down a bit with the door open. It is better to start too hot than too cool.

eprante 07-20-2011 02:06 PM

Re: Over Heating! Help please.
 
I started out cooking at 750-800 f but found it went much too fast. I prefer to cook the pizzas between 675- 725, it takes 2-3 minutes but you get the crust cooked crisp without being blackened. I use my infrared thermometer to check floor temp. The hotter the fire, the farther away from the fire I keep the pie.
Enjoy,
Eric

davmorr 07-20-2011 03:48 PM

Re: Over Heating! Help please.
 
After firing the oven to white ash, I allow the fire to burn down to large coals, then move them to the side. I wire brush the floor, then use the infrared thermometer to measure floor temp, letting it come down to 800 or so. Then, I toss a couple of pieces of split wood, no more than a couple of inches in diameter, onto the coals. These burst into flame almost immediately. I'm ready to bake pizza.

My first pizzas are fast. Maybe a couple of minutes or so. With guests, we usually do a pizza or two, then wait, and do another round. So, the last ones take longer than the first -- maybe in the four minute range. I don't keep track of baking time because they still cook so fast I need to pay attention, turning them and moving them either nearer or farther from the fire.

When I'm done baking pizza, I spread the coals across the floor and toss on wood to refire the oven, which saturates it for baking bread the next day. When the fire burns down to coals, I close the door. I bake bread at about 550 around noon the following day.

My oven is a 42" Pompeii built to Forno Bravo specs. I use "00" flour for my pizza.

Good luck.

mikereeder 07-20-2011 04:28 PM

Re: Over Heating! Help please.
 
Thanks Guys,

I'll give the ideas a try on Friday.
Over making the pizza bases so I'll have chance for some test runs without the toppings!

Cheers,

Mike

nissanneill 07-20-2011 05:03 PM

Re: Over Heating! Help please.
 
Mike,
my oven is always max'd out (over 500˚C) when the first pizza goes in (whole dome is white after around an hour to and half fire), and I half cook it on the aluminium base, well until it needs turning, then lift it off the pan and place onto the hearth for the final bake. My first pizza usually cooks in close to or just a few seconds under a minute but then after a half dozen or so settles down to a couple of minutes each, but who watches the clock, sight and smell tells you when they are just right and lifting up an edge will show a leopard like colouring.
Enjoy and good luck

Neill

scottz 07-20-2011 06:29 PM

Re: Over Heating! Help please.
 
Hi,
I found the same problem....always burnt the crap out of the first pizza. One day when I was getting ready for a cook off, I got busy dealing with kids, ect and found that when I left the floor to cool down for another 30mins of so, the pizza bottom diddnt burn, and as a result you were not scrapping or playing 'dodge the black area on the floor' trick with the rest of the food. Give it a go, I use it as a rule now and havent looked back since!

Scott

dmun 07-20-2011 08:54 PM

Re: Over Heating! Help please.
 
A solution to the burnt first pizza problem, make pita breads first. You can't be too hot for them, as they only stay in a few seconds, until they blow up. This entertains the guests while the oven moderates to pizza temperatures.

dbhansen 07-22-2011 01:14 PM

Re: Over Heating! Help please.
 
I agree with Scottz -- rake the coals to the side, open the door, and let it sit for 15-30 minutes. This brings the surface temps down a bit.

david s 07-22-2011 02:01 PM

Re: Over Heating! Help please.
 
You can also keep .that first one much closer to the entry where the floor is cooler. The semolina trick is 3 secs then it goes black. 2 secs too hot 4 secs too cold. Only need about 1/4 tsp.


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