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Old 12-08-2009, 09:30 PM
Apprentice
 
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Location: Cochrane, Alberta
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Default Coldest temperatures you've cooked in?

Builder Brads post on cooking pizzas when it is cold got me curious... What is the coldest outside temperatures you have cooked in and what did you do to compensate for the cold?
I had a pizza party last week and the temps were about -10 C or so. I got the oven really hot, let the fire die down and started cooking. The oven is pretty well insulated with 4-8" of vermiculite poured around it but it did cool quicker than I expected. I ended up stoking the fire on the side which I normally don't do. Even then, I found the pizzas cooking slower than expected and should have added a little more wood. I was being a little too cautious. I do have a door and it is insulated but I was not using it as I was trying to watch the pizzas...
As a side note, it has been -20 to -25 this week and I have had no desire to go out and stoke up the oven!
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Old 12-08-2009, 09:47 PM
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Location: Pebble Beach, CA
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Default Re: Coldest temperatures you've cooked in?

I know this is pretty weak, but I have cooked in my FB Casa oven in Florence in sub freezing (just) a number of times -- though definitely not -10C. :-) Although it did lightly snow a couple of times.

You could tell that it was colder outside, and you had to work harder to bring the oven up to temperature and keep it there.

To this day, those parties are a fond memory.

OK -- I want to hear from our hardened cold weather crowd.

James
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Old 12-09-2009, 12:00 AM
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Location: Adelaide, South Australia
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Thumbs up Re: Coldest temperatures you've cooked in?

Hell,
if it gets down to +5˚C over here, that's pretty damn cold.
I would have to push all those guests who would be crowded around the oven entrance, out of the way to get to my pizzas!
I know its not cold in your terms, but you are welcome to it. I'd prefer our moderate temperatures and visit the snow fields if and whenever the needs demanded, (but that hasn't happened yet)!

Neill
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Old 12-09-2009, 03:58 AM
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Location: Prince Albert, Ontario, Canada
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Default Re: Coldest temperatures you've cooked in?

Well, I have to admit that I've baked bread in my outside oven when the air temp was -20 C and the wind was blowing the snow in from the northwest. Dont ask why, please. The previous day, I was very careful to bring the oven up to heat slowly. Mine is a high mass oven, and under such conditions I'm more interested in mass temps than brick surface temps. If the mass reads around 300 F, I know I'm good to go without worrying unduly about the oven cooling too quickly. Once there, I brought the hearth up to 750, baked some pizzas, then let it cool to 550 for hearth breads. The hearth cooling, naturally, happened more quickly than it would under more sane conditions, but the mass temps didn't budge.

Jim
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Old 12-11-2009, 08:10 AM
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Default Re: Coldest temperatures you've cooked in?

I made Pizzas a couple of times last Winter while there was snow on the oven... so it must have been below freezing.

I don't mind the cold so much but I usually draw the line for pizzas when its actually raining or snowing. Stay inside, make something else. But bread, what with all the preparation, well it just goes in when its ready. I defy the weather to stop me baking! (don't quote me...)

Having said that, we don't do large pizza parties in Winter anyway, so it'll be me outside (...all alone, in the cold, slaving away at a hot oven...) making a couple of really big pizzas for everyone to share and handing them in through the window when they're ready.

I haven't noticed the oven bahaving very differently in Winter, but then its probably not quite as cold here as it is in Canada.
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Old 12-11-2009, 11:59 AM
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Location: Detroit
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Default Re: Coldest temperatures you've cooked in?

-3F last night. I didn't get the oven as hot as I like to, but it was still over 800 and the pizza was great. I had it hotter, but my wife was running late and by the time she had got home it had dropped, and was just too cold to add a bit more wood and let it get back up to temp.
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Old 12-11-2009, 05:19 PM
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Location: Charlotte, NC
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Default Re: Coldest temperatures you've cooked in?

Do you think that this poses a danger in regards to thermal cycling, seeing that the ideal thermal shock rate is about 100-deg an hour ( as I have been told by numerous ceramic engineers....)?
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Old 12-12-2009, 10:50 AM
Apprentice
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Cochrane, Alberta
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Default Re: Coldest temperatures you've cooked in?

Absolutely. I am not an engineer, but I am sure that Thermal Shock is a concern in cold weather cooking.

In colder weather, I light a small fire in the oven and heat it slowly rather than stoking the wood to it and building a large fire early. I don't really relish the idea or plan on using the oven when it is damn cold outside but even when it warms up (for us -10 C can be pretty nice, especially after a couple of weeks of -25 or -30) I would start slowly to let the temperature climb slowly. I am assuming that after a long cold spell, there is a build up of residual cold and frost in the oven structure. My theory is that with the extra insulation over the oven, it holds the cold, just as it holds the heat.
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