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Old 02-15-2008, 01:30 PM
McLane's Avatar
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Default Hello from Pennsylvania

Been visiting the main Forno Bravo site for a couple of months, and decided to join the forum to get some advice. I am a member of a growing church, and we are in the planning stages of a major renovation of our kitchen. We feed about 1200-1300 people on the average weekend, and we are contemplating the addition of a brick oven to the renovation plans. We have increased our bread making capacity over that past few months (using a commercial convection oven), and we are currently producing about 20-30 loaves of bread per weekend. We have even discussed the possibility of making our own fresh dough pizza, which has spurred my interest in the designs mentioned on this site.

I joined this site primarily to make sure we build/purchase the proper oven. I read out on the main site that the question one needs to ask, is if they intend to bake bread or make pizza. How much difference is there between a bread and pizza oven? On reading the "why round" section, I'd be compelled to think that a round "pizza" oven would be superior to a rectangular "bread" oven. Is this the case? I'm not sure why a rectangular oven would be better suited for bread, since on of the main drawbacks of a rectangular oven is that they have a wide temperature variance across the floor of the oven. I have read on another site that a "falling" oven is perfect for bread baking. Does the temp in a rectangular oven drop at a faster rate than a round oven?

Thanks for any help that you folks can give.
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Old 02-15-2008, 02:05 PM
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Default Re: Hello from Pennsylvania

The Pompeii design is an excellent all around oven.
It will cook pizza, bread, and roast/smoke meats. (brisket, pork shoulder, turkey, etc.)

I've had a ham, a turkey, 2 dozen rolls, and squash in mine (a 42"Pompeii) all at the same time.

I regularly cook meats up to 36 hours after firing the oven, so the heat retention is awesome.

I love mine.

As for a barrel-type oven, I have no experience there. But Jim, our excellent baker, has experience with many different ovens.
I am sure he will be happy to offer his opinion on that subject.

Good luck and welcome aboard.

I'm sure we would all enjoy pictures when you decide to build.

Dave
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Old 02-15-2008, 02:24 PM
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Default Re: Hello from Pennsylvania

My favorite saying that it's easy to make bread in a pizza oven, but difficult to make pizza in a bread oven. :-)

If you are looking for a general purpose oven, for a range of cooking, I think the round Italian design is the best one. If you are setting up a commercial bakery, then I would go with the low, barrel vaulted oven. I would even considering doing a white, French oven design if I was thinking of starting up a commercial bakery.

My two cents.

I love the idea of building a brick oven for community use. Excellent idea.

James
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Old 02-15-2008, 03:23 PM
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Default Re: Hello from Pennsylvania

Generally, I agree with James. It can be done, but it's not as easy, to bake pizza in a rectangular barrel vault oven like mine, because it is not designed to have flame licking up to the dome for pizza baking. I'll be doing it this weekend, so trust me. Is one superior to another across the board? Humm, don't think so, and I've used and installed both. Both will bake a huge variety of foods, from bread to fish. Don't know where you got the info that there is a wide temp variance across the floor of a rectangular; it's not so if it's properly built and well insulated. Any wood fired oven will be cooler near the oven mouth, though, and hottest at the back wall. The former can be a good thing for some dishes, calzone for example.

The choice depends on intended use. I can get more loaves per bake in my oven than I could if it was round, hearth bread or pan bread, sheet pans or pita, and that's why I chose the design. For me, pizza is secondary, bread primary for my bakery. If I wanted an oven for general use, I'd probably opt for a round design. If my primary intent was pizza, I'd definitely go the round route.

From a speed and ease of firing stance, I'd use a white oven for a commercial setup, though they can be difficult to find and tricky to build (read expensive). Alf, the builder in England, could guide you there. For traditional look and feel, I'd go with a fire in the oven design. One of the larger, commercial FB Ristorante ovens might be what you want.

The most important thing about any design is to build it carefully and insulate to the point that you retain as much heat as possible--and beyond. There's a wealth of insulation information on this forum. Whether it's modular and purchased, brick by brick and hand built, round or barrel, these things don't change.

To answer your question directly, both styles of oven will retain heat for a very long time (how long depends on construction) if they are properly built. A poorly built oven, no matter the orientation, will not.

You haven't told us what the primary use will be; that will affect orientation choice. After that, either one will perform flawlessly for general cooking and baking, so long as the provisos above are kept in mind.

It's important not to get hung up in the many, many, many contentious opinions out there about superiority of one over another. The French don't use a round design and bake awesome bread. The Italians don't, generally, use a rectangular design and bake awesome pizza. Point is, either one is good, works well. The choice is based on intended major use--and somewhat simply on historical tradition.

Contact me directly by email if you want to discuss details further.

Jim
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Old 02-15-2008, 04:02 PM
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Default Re: Hello from Pennsylvania

This is always a "hot" topic. :-)

There is a lot of good content in the Forum. Look around, and you will find a lot of info.

James
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Old 02-15-2008, 05:15 PM
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Default Re: Hello from Pennsylvania

Quote:
Originally Posted by james View Post
This is always a "hot" topic. :-)

There is a lot of good content in the Forum. Look around, and you will find a lot of info.

James
Which is a hotter topic?

Barrel vs Pompeii

or

Cure before insulating/after insulating?!
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Old 02-15-2008, 05:27 PM
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Default Re: Hello from Pennsylvania

Interesting topic. Makes me wonder if there's a pefect oven somewhere between the two styles for this group. One that takes a bit more wood to get up to pizza temps, but also retains heat for multiple loads of bread. For whatever reason, Dave's oven sounds like a perfect solution. His heat retention seems to be higher that that of other pizza ovens built.

I questioned the type of bricks he purchased second hand previously (Dave, correct me if I'm wrong), wondering if they were medium or high duty bricks vs. low duty.

Just a thought.

George
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Old 02-15-2008, 06:04 PM
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Default Re: Hello from Pennsylvania

Quote:
Originally Posted by gjbingham View Post
Interesting topic. Makes me wonder if there's a perfect oven somewhere between the two styles for this group. One that takes a bit more wood to get up to pizza temps, but also retains heat for multiple loads of bread. For whatever reason, Dave's oven sounds like a perfect solution. His heat retention seems to be higher that that of other pizza ovens built.

I questioned the type of bricks he purchased second hand previously (Dave, correct me if I'm wrong), wondering if they were medium or high duty bricks vs. low duty.

Just a thought.

George

I really don't know what they were....
Fire bricks from ACME....
Beep Beep

But I think there are several reasons I retain heat pretty well.
I added a 3/4 - 5/8 layer of high heat mortar on top of my hearth insulating layer.
I had plenty of mortar on the outside of the dome. Maybe 3/4 inch in most spots.

I topped the dome with a couple layers of 1/2 blanket. Then I built a cage out of wire and screen so that I could pour verm/perlite. (I didn't want to mix it with cement, i figured it would lower the insulating properties....)
Although I was shooting for 4 or 5 inches of verm/perlite, the cage kind of expanded and verm/perlite keeps creeping down the sides. I think I probably 6 inches or more of the dry stuff all around the sides.

I do need to add more, because the top is now pretty bare, other than the blankie.

But more insulation, i think, is the key to good heat retention.

I think I just got lucky because my cage "expanded" all on its lonesome~!!!

Fate I guess.. Sometimes it smiles on you.

as you were

Dave
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Old 02-15-2008, 06:06 PM
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Default Re: Hello from Pennsylvania

I have to add...

It does take up to 2 hours of firing sometimes to hit pizza temps.

Makes me wish I had a smaller oven for 2 or 3 pizza nights!

I might try a 30 incher this summer.

Because I need a new project soon!
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Old 02-15-2008, 07:20 PM
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Default Re: Hello from Pennsylvania

I want to thank you all for the replies to my post. To have so many of you reply so quickly with relevant responses, sends a message that this is a healthy & viable board. My sincere thanks and best wishes to those who manage this forum.

To answer a question from above, the main purpose for the oven will be for bread, but we would also like to prepare pizza from time to time. To really explain what we need, perhaps I should share some background. My church was founded in the 1830s, and we remained in the original building until a space crunch forced us to pursue an alternative location. Having purchased a parcel of property, we were prepared to build on this new land until a very unique situation presented itself. WalMart opened a store just outside of town, and a stand-alone department store on the opposite end of town could not compete. It was then that we began to investigate the possibility of converting a 59,000 square foot building into a church. 5 years later we have nearly doubled our congregation and food has become an important fixture; because when people share a meal together - they talk. In the last 4 months, we have embarked on a multi-site expansion, and have opened up 2 additional worship locations in the region. We serve free meals at all of our services, with hot breakfast meals being served in the mornings and hot main courses at the afternoon & evening services. This main location also is the site where food is prepped for the additional 2 locations. I've always wanted to bake bread, so this past fall I started preparing bread for the Saturday evening service. What started out as an experiment, has evolved into my purchase of "The Bread Baker's Apprentice" book, in which there is a chapter on baking bread in a wood-fired oven. With the creation of a new kitchen in the opposite corner of the building from where our current kitchen resides, I have made the pitch for the addition of a brick bread oven to the plans. The idea has been met with immediate enthusiasm. I'm not sure how to judge the size of the oven we will need, but I average about 20-35 pounds of flour per week in the creation of dough for Italian, French & sourdough breads.

I hope that the above gives you a bit more background as to what we will use the oven for. As for the type, I'm still not sure about the design, but as I read through the threads on this board and share thoughts with you folks, the vision should become clear as to what we will need. The bottom line is that we will require an oven that will potentially be able to bake enough bread to complement a meal for a crowd of 1000 people, or kick out the occasional batches of pizza to feed a crowd of that size. What that looks like is a thing that I hope you folks can help me out with. We originally were going to search for a used natural gas fired commercial unit, but I am starting to feel rather strong that a wood fired unit is the only way to go. We have several members who are brick layers by profession, and I feel confident that we can build a unit that can do the job. My only desire is to make sure we build it right - the first time.

Thanks again for your willingness to assist us with our adventure in wood-fired baking!
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