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Old 06-06-2010, 02:51 PM
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Default Do Ashes Accumulate and Get on Pizza?

I have looked through several photos posted here and watched various videos on Youtube etc. with pizzas being cooked in various brick ovens. Now with only one curing fire to go, I'm noticing the ash and dust build up on the floor of the oven. I understand the fire gets pushed to the side and you scrape and brush away any remains, but does the bottom of the crust ever have ash on it?

It would be nice to hear how some prepare their cooking floor for pizza cooking and the methods they prefer.

Thanks.
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Old 06-06-2010, 02:55 PM
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Default Re: Do Ashes Accumulate and Get on Pizza?

Ash is sterile and if it bothers you can be blown off of the bottom of the pizza. It doesn't stick. You can also cook on pans, which I do if I am going for production.
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Old 06-06-2010, 03:07 PM
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Default Re: Do Ashes Accumulate and Get on Pizza?

Hi Dave!

Managing ashes is part of managing an oven. But...they are insignificant for a variety of reasons. As Tsc suggests, they are sterile. But they are never there in large quantity or if they are it is because you didn't sweep the hearth. Or if you are more fastidious blow it off (but I have serious questions that blowing puts more ash in the air and more on the hearth than sweeping). You will want to have a brass oven brush in addition to your peels.

A bigger probelm for the bottom of your pizzas is the burned semolina that accumulates on the hearth more than ash and can give a charred flavor to a pizza if allowed to accumulate enough. You will want to sweep the hearth periodically to clean it. The minor amount of ash that is left after sweping has never been a problem for me.

You are getting close! Good Luck!
Jay
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Old 06-06-2010, 03:10 PM
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Default Re: Do Ashes Accumulate and Get on Pizza?

I have been using rice flour and while it still burns it has no flavor.
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Old 06-06-2010, 04:25 PM
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Default Re: Do Ashes Accumulate and Get on Pizza?

Thanks for the replies. My concern was that it would give the pizza a grainy texture. I'm lining up my tools and one of those will be a brush.

Thanks again.
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Old 06-06-2010, 04:52 PM
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Default Re: Do Ashes Accumulate and Get on Pizza?

I haven't tried it yet, but have heard from an old Italian, that a dusting of rice flour prevents sticking and will not burn as fast, does not turn gray.
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Old 06-06-2010, 04:56 PM
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Default Re: Do Ashes Accumulate and Get on Pizza?

Ditto on the rice flour. I find a pinch of bench flour added to the wood peel before i rub the rice flour around to spread it helps with pizza release. As for ash, I only find it a problem in pita breads that don't brown: you really want to brush that floor when making pitas, or they look dirty. I can't imagine it's bad for you, but it's not very appealing.
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Old 06-06-2010, 05:37 PM
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Default Re: Do Ashes Accumulate and Get on Pizza?

Quote:
Originally Posted by dmun View Post
Ditto on the rice flour. I find a pinch of bench flour added to the wood peel before i rub the rice flour around to spread it helps with pizza release. As for ash, I only find it a problem in pita breads that don't brown: you really want to brush that floor when making pitas, or they look dirty. I can't imagine it's bad for you, but it's not very appealing.
Right, it isn't appealing, and I can see some who aren't familiar with the process to somewhat look down on the appearance. I did lay a tortilla on the oven floor during my 4th firing and it browned some but the ash was evident.
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Old 06-06-2010, 05:51 PM
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Default Re: Do Ashes Accumulate and Get on Pizza?

I agree with those of you who are rice flour fans for its positive characteristics and in particular its non stick nature. However I really don't like what it does to artisanal bread crust and I don't like the texture so I don't mess with it. It is IMO no big deal to brush accumulated flour, ash, and whatever else off the hearth periodically.

As far as ash is concerned, I try to minimize it, but it comes with the territory - particularly for pizzas where the fire is live. Baking with a closed oven is a whole different world and ash is much more easily controlled but still never eliminated. Ash will always be present.

Jay
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Old 06-07-2010, 05:21 AM
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Default Re: Do Ashes Accumulate and Get on Pizza?

When I built my oven I had one of those tarps with the center post covering it while I worked. I took the three pieces of the post apart when I was finished, and I use those to blow any residual ash off the floor if I think it needs it. Most times I just use one piece, but if there's ash way across the floor and I'm feeling anal about it, I stick two together and use them to reach further with the air. The key is NEVER, EVER suck in air with your mouth ON the tube! That would be a very bad thing.

Really, though, most of the time, when I make pizza, I just push the fire aside, brush the floor and go. A good brass brush (mine came from FB) does a great job. I don't like ash on the bottoms of my bread, though, and I do blow off the floor then, but you still have to be careful about breathing in with your lips attached to the pipe....

And if you make an unintentional calzone, or even worse, an upside-down pizza, just pull some coals over the spot and let them sit a minute, and then brush it off. It cleans right up.

I never have sticking problems anymore since I started using Jay's technique of a half-sheet pan with flour in it, upending the dough ball into it, flipping it over a couple of times, and then shaping. I get just enough flour on the pie to keep it from sticking but not enough to burn or look weird.

Practice really does improve things!
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