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Old 04-30-2009, 05:00 PM
Serf
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: China
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Question Curing a new oven

I have built an oven from the download plans. I live in China so I am the first and only person in southern China with a brick pizza oven.



I have three questions.


1. I have an infrared thermometer. What should I measure for temperature for the curing process? The oven floor close to the fire? The bricks in the dome? The floor half way across the floor from the fire? Or other?

2. Good hard wood is very difficult to find here. However anthracite coal is plentiful. Can I use coal once I have cured the oven? (I know how to manage coal as a cooking fuel)

3. Once the oven is cured, what is the ideal floor temperature in the raw launching zone? In the finishing zone? Or should I measure the temperature at the top of the dome?

I am a Westerner with a life long love affair with pizza. My favorite is Pepe's in New Haven, CT, US. I am desperate for good pizza for my stay here. The best we have access to now is Pizza Hut - ugh!
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Old 05-02-2009, 04:57 AM
Rodneyf's Avatar
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Default Re: Curing a new oven

I am not sure about the smell of coal used for cooking pizzas.
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Old 05-02-2009, 09:01 AM
Serf
 
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Default Re: Curing a new oven

Are you sure your the first and only person in southern china with a brick oven? That's quite a bold statement there buddy
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Old 05-02-2009, 04:27 PM
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Default Re: Curing a new oven

I've used coal in my pizza oven often. A low sulfur anthracite is exactly what you want but softer coals will work as well. (Some of the best pizza restaurants in New York use coal.)

Given that, you don't necessarily need a hardwood. These things are not fussy, pretty much any well seasoned wood will do.

As to where to measure the temperature for curing , I always measure it in the exact center of the floor. This is a good sticky on oven curing:

http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f16/...uring-767.html (Oven Curing)

Last edited by Neil2; 05-02-2009 at 04:37 PM.
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Old 05-02-2009, 04:40 PM
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Default Re: Curing a new oven

"I am not sure about the smell of coal used for cooking pizzas."

I had a guest from England who thought the smell was wonderful and brought back memories of his childhood.

Many of my guests have said my coal fired pizza was the best they had ever tasted.
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Old 05-03-2009, 01:29 AM
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Default Re: Curing a new oven

I stand totally corrected then and will give it a go when I have finished my oven. I am not sure how to get the coal hot enough to start burning on it's own and will take advise from you on that point.
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Old 05-03-2009, 07:16 AM
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Default Re: Curing a new oven

Quote:
I've used coal in my pizza oven often. A low sulfur anthracite is exactly what you want but softer coals will work as well. (Some of the best pizza restaurants in New York use coal.)
When you cook with coal, do you burn it right on the oven floor, like wood, or do you need a grate to get air up under the fire?
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Old 05-03-2009, 11:07 AM
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Default Re: Curing a new oven

I start with a small wood fire. Once that is going well, I let it burn down a bit then just add the coal on top.
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Old 05-03-2009, 12:04 PM
Jed Jed is offline
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Default Re: Curing a new oven

Hello jlanechina,

Welcome to the forum!

Quote:
Originally Posted by jlanechina View Post

1. I have an infrared thermometer. What should I measure for temperature for the curing process? The oven floor close to the fire? The bricks in the dome? The floor half way across the floor from the fire? Or other?
I will sample temps from all around the inside of the oven; dome - top and sides, and several areas on the floor. Until you can build a fire that can rage in the oven for a period of time, the temperature will not be consistent from one place to the other. Look for averages, and work the number up with the next fire... start with small fires, and make the next ones larger. If you can keep a fire burning at a near steady rate for a longer period of time, I think that helps cure the oven.



Quote:
Originally Posted by jlanechina View Post
2. Good hard wood is very difficult to find here. However anthracite coal is plentiful. Can I use coal once I have cured the oven? (I know how to manage coal as a cooking fuel)
Anything that will burn gets the job done; the technology is 'retained heat masonry'. Hard woods are generally better than soft woods. A choice I make is that I won't burn wood that will impart potentially dangerous chemicals to the food - so I don't burn pallets (occasionally treated with bug killer), or railroad ties, or anything that might be 'dangerous'. Around the world people burn what ever is available, and it all will cook food; from twigs, to dung... what ever is locally available. Here in Central Oregon, Pine and Juniper are the available woods, so that is what I use, and it works fine. I don't have any experience with coal, so it is great to read from the folks that use coal successfully.


Quote:
Originally Posted by jlanechina View Post
3. Once the oven is cured, what is the ideal floor temperature in the raw launching zone? In the finishing zone? Or should I measure the temperature at the top of the dome?
For cooking pizza, I will heat the oven, move the fire to one side, or back corner of the oven, and try to keep the oven stoked to keep a hearth temperature in the mid 700 degree F range. I find that we make a thick enough crust, and load enough toppings that if we keep a 900 degree oven, we burn the crust and edges before getting the insides cooked. The rest of the oven is just what ever temperature it ends up with the goal of keeping the middle of the cooking floor in the mid 700's.

I am surprised to hear there are not wood fired ovens in China? Many of the traditional cultures around the world include some version of a 'retained heat oven'. Did the Chinese decided that after the Wok there was no reason to use any other cooking method? or did they have an alternative to the wood fired oven?

Send along some pictures of your oven! Would love to see how it turned out.

Best,

JED
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