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Old 04-10-2009, 06:50 AM
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Default consistent hearth temp

I was wondering if anybody has any tips for getting the hearth temp consitent in all areas when baking bread. I generally bake bread after pizza and find that the side of the oven where the coals were is always hotter than the opposite side. For example three quadrants are around 550 F but the back quadrant on the side where the coals were is 600 F. I have tried raking the coals over the whole of the hearth floor before taking them out with limited success. I have found that the bread cooked in the hotter quadrant is usually a little burnt underneath!
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Old 04-10-2009, 07:01 AM
david s's Avatar
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Default Re: consistent hearth temp

Try cooking your bread on trays. This tends to even out temp differences and avoids burning the bottom of your loaves.
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Old 04-10-2009, 08:18 AM
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Default Re: consistent hearth temp

I've had trouble with hot spots too. I find that I have to rake the coals all over for at least half an hour, and then I have to rake it out, clean it up, and put the door on for another half an hour (my door is insulated) for the temperature to really moderate all over the dome and floor. I also check my floor bricks with my IR thermometer.

I have had several batches of bread without burned bottoms now. Prior to developing a little patience (which I am notoriously short of) I would get loaves with half the bottom burned and half not- you could see the pattern of hot bricks and cooler ones! Give them time to even each other out.
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Old 04-10-2009, 09:01 AM
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Default Re: consistent hearth temp

I think Elizabeth is spot on.

This has been a problem for me too. I think the best thing to do is rake the coals around for a soak (for like 1/2 hour) then scrape them out and let the oven equalize sometimes for as much as an hour.

The biggest problem for me is letting the oven cool enough. Usually after pizza I am ready to throw the bread in and get on with it. Sometimes all that bread is ready and the oven is not, it can be a problem! I swab, spray, leave the oven door off for a while...anything to cool it down. I really just have to have shorter pizza sessions. We tend to cook pizza over 2 or 3 hours....
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Old 04-14-2009, 05:46 AM
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Default Re: consistent hearth temp

Thanks everyone for the advice. I definitely need to be more patient and leave the coals raked over the floor longer and then let the oven moderate longer once I have removed the coals. I usually cook bread at the end of a long pizza night as well - but I am on leave this week so I am actually going to do a bread bake during the day and then cook a roast after for dinner. I will try out the more patient approach!
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Old 11-21-2009, 07:14 PM
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Default Re: consistent hearth temp

A trick I recently learned at a WFO class in Maine was to build the fire in the perimeter of the oven. Start on the left side of the door. As if the oven was a clock and the door was at 6 O'clock. Lay down the first piece of wood at 7 O'clock along the wall, then the next piece 1/2 on top of it and so on all around the oven back to 5 O'clock position. The wood should lay as if they were dominos that fell on top of one another. They will ignite when the fire started in the center of the floor gets hot enough. You will then have a ring of fire surrounding a doughnut hole of fire in the center of your oven. This works well with both round or rectangle ovens. Tonight, we fired up our oven that way and by the time we had coals all around our Allan Scott shaped oven it was ready to make pizza. It was cool outside here in NJ, around 50 degrees F. Flour thrown into the hearth after sweeping the coals to the sides turned brown. That is my indication that it was ready. Tomorrow morning we bake breads after I restart the warm oven coals. Try it you won't use as much wood as before that way.
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Old 11-21-2009, 07:17 PM
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Default Re: consistent hearth temp

To give credit to the WFO class it was at the Stone Turtle Cooking School in Maine. Well worth the trip. You always learn something new by just doing it.
Bill
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Old 11-22-2009, 03:03 AM
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Thumbs up Re: consistent hearth temp

Hi Salv
cooking pizzas at night and then bread after that makes for a very late night indeed.
I found that to get the most out of thr oven heat, I fire it around 10am for midday pizzas, rake out the coals, shut up the oven after the pizzas are finished to let the oven equallise, check the temperatures, cool t down if needed, do a batch of bread/rolls/buns, and then in goes the night roast for 1 - 1 1/2 hours, get the veggies in after 2/3rd roasting time and when they are done, put in the apple pie and/or jam tarts. Once finished, I shut up the oven but you could use it to dry fruit, meat, spices/herbs etc, as it is still quite hot next morning.

Neill
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Old 11-22-2009, 06:14 AM
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Default Re: consistent hearth temp

Maybe I didn't explain it well enough. We do bread the next day. You are correct bread at night doesn't work in our house. We are pretty well done by the time all the company leaves and we clean up the house before going to sleep. This morning I am eating cold left over pizza and waiting for the oven to get back up to temp. It should be about an hour or so and we will make blank pizza shells, flat breads and foccaci then sweep out the oven, let it rest and stabilize then make the bread. While I am tending the flatbreads my wife is proofing the breads indoors. --- back to work. BillPizzaiolo
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