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OvenBoy 08-12-2007 03:05 PM

Fire/Ash Tray
I am pretty close to finishing the oven and firing it up. I had an idea of using a fire tray in the back of the oven. The fire would be built on the tray and when it was all finished, cleanup would be easy because you could just pull out the tray with the ash on it and don't have to fish around for it with a shovel. Could this work? Does the fire have to be directly on the brick to work?

maver 08-12-2007 06:48 PM

Re: Fire/Ash Tray
This would work in the sense that the fire does not have to be directly on the brick, but I'm not sure it provides any real advantage. I think having an oven rake and a brush does the job of managing the ash and coals quite well. I have a nice brush, but still use the old garden hoe I used to mix mortar during the oven build as the rake. I think you'll still want to use a brush even if you have a tray as the wood spreads ash when it pops (maybe you'll have better seasoned wood than I so it won't pop at all).

nissanneill 08-13-2007 01:44 AM

Re: Fire/Ash Tray
Oven boy,
I'll jump in here with a thought as well.
My experience with fires and heat sources on/in trays is that when the heat is applied to the tray, the edges lift and the plate buckles, just like a barbeque plate. Remember that the bulk of the heat will rise to heat the dome, but much less will be transferred to the hearth due to an air layer beneath the tray, which will act as an insulator.. You need the coals on the hearth to transfer the heat directly into it for the heat required to cook your pizzas.
I believe (not experienced) that the hearth would ultimately heat up but at a much slower rate than by lighting your fire directly on the hearth. Hey, it only takes a few moments to either push back the fire/coals and brush the hearth or scrape out the coals into a metal bin and then brush the hearth clean.
I merely push the coals back, brush the hearth bricks and cook either pizzas or bread on that without wiping over with a moist cotton mop.
I have even eaten damper (tradional Aussie bread) baked directly in the hot white ash of a campfire with no foil, or oven whatsoever, covered with ash and cooked for 10 + 5 minutes flipped part way through with no grittty bits. This was demonstrated by a group of Aboriginal women whom we as a 4WD club did a pile of work for.
The truth be known, you might do yourself (or visitors) a serious injury when trying to remove a largish very hot, heavy metal tray through a smallish oven entrance.
Good luck.

Bacterium 08-13-2007 05:24 PM

Re: Fire/Ash Tray
you'll be surprised how easy it is to sweep the coals aside (with something like a shovel) and then tidy it up with the brush or slightly damp mop methods.

I assume the metal tray idea would have no holes/perforations underneath. 2 things:
- I've found with my oven, having the coals burning evenly across the oven (more central than rear) it gets to the "white hot" stage quicker and more evenly.
-As the fresh air for the oven comes in down low its good to have areas of your wood up off the hearth (maybe an inch or 2, here and there). James sells a log holder here which is the go:
You want to encourage cold air(relatively) to come in underneath but you don't need all the wood off the hearth.

Once you get to white hot, the coals can go along one side (useful for browning off the pizza crust). Plus if you have any spills where toppings of pizza end up on the hearth and burn(yep I still have them). You can then rake some coals from the side back over the spill, let it burn off, then you can push the coals aside, brush again and then reuse that area.

Each and every oven has its differences so part of the fun is experimenting with different things......which is probably part of you suggesting the tray in the first place...... :cool:

Peter O'Brien 08-14-2008 01:37 AM

Re: Fire/Ash Tray
hi I am a 61 year old baker that started his apprenticeship at 14. The first oven I worked on was a scotch oven briquette fired.The fuel was so dirty we
had to scuffle the oven before baking.A scuffle was a jute bag on a long peel handle. Dipped in water it was spun by a skilled tradesman(not easy).It would also take care of hot spots.As I am planning to try to build a brick oven for home I am very interested in all the information available on this site.
Cheers Baker1

david s 08-14-2008 02:53 AM

Re: Fire/Ash Tray
I find the best way to clear the floor of ash is to use a long pipe (eg 12mm copper tube) to blow the ash away from your cooking area- very easy.

egalecki 08-14-2008 06:15 AM

Re: Fire/Ash Tray

Originally Posted by david s (Post 38969)
I find the best way to clear the floor of ash is to use a long pipe (eg 12mm copper tube) to blow the ash away from your cooking area- very easy.

That's what I've been doing too. It works well, just don't inhale thru the pipe by mistake. I have to keep reminding myself to inhale away from the tube end! A mouthful of ash isn't pleasant....

It does do a good job of cleaning off the floor though.

nissanneill 08-14-2008 04:17 PM

Re: Fire/Ash Tray
Peter O,
welcome to the forum.
Where abouts in this wonderful wide land are you?
I am always interested in learning from a craftsman, especially a baker!
My neices daughter is an award winning baking apprentice in Qld but too far away to play with my oven and teach me a few (or a lot of) tricks.
Hopefully you are closer to Adelaide
I have been playing with baking functions in the Pompeii and find that there is plenty of room for improvement.


Peter O'Brien 08-14-2008 07:33 PM

Re: Fire/Ash Tray
hi there nissanneil I live in deniliquin NSW not that far from Adelaide I have sold my bakery about 6 years ago. I now want to make good bread at home
I have had a lot of experience with the old scotch ovens as i owned two in my first business in Ravenshoe in north Queensland and also worked on them during my apprenticeship.There is no doubt that they make the best bread.
I see by some earlier posts that you advocate solid red house bricks.This would suit me as I have access to some old bricks made here in Deniliquin many years ago.Is there some way of telling if they are suitable as the brickworks closed a long time ago?
Regards baker1

nissanneill 08-14-2008 09:48 PM

Re: Fire/Ash Tray
Hi Peter,
The bricks I feel should not be too soft or porous. Years ago, when I and my grandparents used to live near the pug holes and brick kilns of Beverley (used to be called York them days) and I used to play in and around them, the bricks that were close to the fire in a 'closed brick kiln' and burnt with wood as the heat supply, were commonly known as 'klinker bricks'. They were very hard and had a glazed appearence although they were not coated or 'glazed' as the bricks today. They were used in and around fireplaces as they were better suited for this application.
I would be looking for relatively hard bricks rather than softer more porous ones, ones that will break with a hard smack with an sledge into pieces than into crumbs. You can also check the porosity by pouring some water over a few of the bricks and you will hear them absorbing the water easily.
Been through Ravenshoe on my extended 4WD trip in 2003, stopped there for coffee and continued onto Cairnes. A wet but very picturesque place, worthy of a return trip for a better look around.
It's a pit that we are about a 7 to 8 hour drive as we could cook wonderful breads together.
At least you are in an area with plentiful supplies of that wonderful dry river red gum timber. It is really too good to burn but better for making fine furniture, only burn the offcuts!
I might just email you direct or maybe even call you if appropriate for some advice and sharing of ideas.


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