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Old 08-18-2006, 07:05 AM
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Default Will the oven make all the difference?

I'm making dough according to Peter Reinhart's formulas, but I don't have my oven yet. I might be asking the obvious, but....will the oven make all the difference? I am a fairly competent self taught chef. My pizza at home just has that "Certain Nothing". I guess I just need reassurance. Do you think your home baked brick oven pizza is as good or better than the places you used to go to buy it?
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Old 08-18-2006, 07:37 AM
Fio Fio is offline
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Default Yes.

The heat in a brick oven is quantitatively and qualitatively different than the heat in home ovens. Nothing puts a nice char on your crust better than a brick oven. But you have to get it BLAZING HOT to reap the benefits.

That said, there are a LOT of other nuances and minutuiae that you need to pay attention to. Most of it is dough: hydration percentages, autolysis, cold retardation - go a long way to making professional-grade pizza.

IMHO, for most people, the SINGLE biggest improvement a pizza maker can make is to perfect dough management.

A lot of the dough recipes out there - based on volume (as opposed to weight) measurements and huge quantities of yeast - miss the mark.

In other words, you can have a spiffy Forno Bravo oven, but if you put amateur dough into it and cook it at 450 degrees, you're no better off.

Bottom line: Your journey is just beginning. Enjoy!

- Fio
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Old 08-18-2006, 11:41 AM
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Default Definitely yes.

I moved this to the Newbie forum. It's a good question.

I've been baking bread and making pizza for 10 years and built my first brick oven about 5 years ago. Having a real wood-fired refractory oven makes all the difference in the world. There is nothing like watching bread spring in the oven or seeing the rim of your pizza puff up in seconds after you put it in a hot oven.

Here is something I wrote a while back on how wood-fired cooking and conventional cooking are different.

James

On wood-fired cooking

1. Any refractory oven cook better than steel ovens with either an electric coil, gas burner or a convection fan. Retained heat ovens absorb the moisture and heat from a wood-fire and reflect fire back into the oven chamber. The heat in a retained heat masonry oven is moist and gentle, compared with the dry of a modern oven. You can put your hand in a wood fired oven and actually "feel" the moisture. Retained heat ovens can cook at a higher temperature than a modern oven, without burning or drying out your food. Consider hearth bread. If you take two loaves of bread made side by side, and put one in a brick oven at 550F, and the other in a modern convection oven at 450F -- the exact same dough will produce a beautiful hearth loaf in the brick oven, with a crisp crust and a well developed, yet moist crumb. You can see the extended strands of dough in the crumb, with well formed holes that result from the oven spring of a moist oven. The crust of the loaf shows the carmelized sugars that only form at higher temperatures.

If you bake that same dough at a high temperature in a conventional oven, it will simply burn. That same dough will make a very ordinary, even bad, loaf of bread in a conventional oven. No oven spring; no crust; no crumb texture; no holes.

Now, apply this same logic to gnocchi, lasagna, a roast, grill or a vegetable gratin. You get a nice, light, moist dish -- and you can see the difference between a brick oven version and a conventional oven version. Make two lasagne, and cook them in the two ovens, and you can definitely see the differnce.

2. With fire-in-the-oven cooking, a brick oven cooks three ways. You get conduction from the cooking floor, where moisture in the dough is converted to steam -- essential for great pizza or bread. You get reflective heat from the dome. The fire in the oven reflects heat evenly down on the cooking floor, and on your pizza (or roast or appetizer or grill pan). The shape of the dome and the round floor are essential for this type of cooking -- you simply cannot do this with a rectagular bread oven. The oven is one of the elements what makes Italian pizza the authentic product that it is. Finally, your wood-fired oven draws in cold air through the bottom of the opening and exhausts hot air out the top half. Inside the oven, hot air moves, creating natural convection. This helps all the food in your oven cook nicely and evenly. The rectangular bread oven is really bad at this, and does not provide even heat on the cooking floor.

My experience is that is it almost impossible to make really good pizza in a brick bread oven, and this extends to all fire-in-the-oven cooking.

3. Wood-fired dome ovens give a definitely better flavor and texture than gas-fired dome ovens. I think this is true for a couple of reasons. First, wood-fired ovens tend to cook hotter. It's easy to keep a Forno Bravo oven at 750F -- they cook at that temperature all day using wood. Most of the gas-fired ovens I have seen cook between 500-650F, which just isn't the same. Gas is good for the San Francisco Zoo, where they cook frozen pizzas in a gas dome oven at 500F (5-7 minutes each), but not for you. Second, wood-fired ovens breath better, making a better, and ligher pizza that cooks in about two minutes. The wood-fired flame laps further in the dome than the gas flame, and it's hotter -- giving you that authentic dark brown crust and melted cheese. It's the point where dough, tomato, mozzarella and olive oil "fuse" that makes great pizza and you can't do it in a gas oven. Last, wood gives you a little nice, smokey flavor from the wood fire. It isn't huge, but you can taste it.
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Old 08-18-2006, 01:07 PM
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Default

I've had my Forno Bravo oven for about 1 year. I use the same exact dough recipe as before. The difference in the taste and texture is amazing. --- Mel
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Old 07-02-2008, 03:26 PM
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Thumbs up Re: Will the oven make all the difference?

I was wondering if anyone has multiple oven installations in one location..ie.restaurant pizzeria. If so is this dual oven setup cost effective and does it increase efficiency and profits. My thinking here is one oven for pizza and the second oven for other dishes...meat, fish, fowl, casseroles, appetizers etc.

Any thoughts would be appreciated!
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Old 07-02-2008, 03:29 PM
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Default Re: Will the oven make all the difference?

I have seen numerous restaurants set up that way in Italy. Otherwise, you have to be pretty creative to find good dishes that work well (other than pizza) in a 750-800F oven.

Sadly, I've seen way too many restaurants run gas-fired dome ovens at 525F, so they cook other things, and really, really bad pizza. :-(

In the scheme of setting up a new restaurant, the cost of a second oven isn't huge.
James
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Old 07-02-2008, 03:58 PM
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Thumbs up Re: Will the oven make all the difference?

Quote:
Originally Posted by james View Post
I have seen numerous restaurants set up that way in Italy. Otherwise, you have to be pretty creative to find good dishes that work well (other than pizza) in a 750-800F oven.

Sadly, I've seen way too many restaurants run gas-fired dome ovens at 525F, so they cook other things, and really, really bad pizza. :-(

In the scheme of setting up a new restaurant, the cost of a second oven isn't huge.
James
Thanks for the input James. I am just embarking on putting a storefront up. Actually the idea for a restaurant came about after a long and positive response to my families' recipe for pasta sauces. The local community has given me strong reason to believe the pasta offerings at a local storefront would be well accepted. After searching for another "anchor'' or "marquee" food specialty to go along with the pasta fare I think the traditional woodfired pizza and Italian grilled entrees are the perfect match. I am leaning toward keeping the menu offerings to less than ten items that are done extremely well -(specialties prepared fresh, cooked quickly, and finished and served piping hot) to every patron that ever enters.

If you or anyone have anymore input on the details of native italian kitchens, pizzerias, and restaurants please let me know
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Old 07-02-2008, 04:32 PM
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Default Re: Will the oven make all the difference?

I definately think two ovens would be a hit. Maybe they could be done in tandem to be more efficient.

A hi temp oven for pizza and another oven for roasting/ cooking other items!

I've seen dual ovens in Spain...and they make my favorite roast dish....a slow roast duck with fruits.....Corral del Pato....I think there is a pic in the restaurants section!

Also check out the appetizers for the tomato basil dish roasted with goat cheese and served with garlic toast points....a very popular starter dish!

good luck
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Old 07-02-2008, 08:55 PM
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Default Re: Will the oven make all the difference?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SpringJim View Post
I definately think two ovens would be a hit. Maybe they could be done in tandem to be more efficient.

A hi temp oven for pizza and another oven for roasting/ cooking other items!

I've seen dual ovens in Spain...and they make my favorite roast dish....a slow roast duck with fruits.....Corral del Pato....I think there is a pic in the restaurants section!

Also check out the appetizers for the tomato basil dish roasted with goat cheese and served with garlic toast points....a very popular starter dish!

good luck
Thanks for the input SpringJim. Tandem ovens is what I was thinking. I am in a small college town (the same college that I graduated from) and my thoughts were to provide a storefront that would give the local patrons and the college students premium and authentic Italian fare served very fresh and hot at a very affordable price. My town is small with numerous Italian-American restaurants - so I need to set myself apart. I have family recipes that have been reproduced for the local public with a great deal of approval and a storefront is my next move.

Thank you for the input from what you have seen in Spain and the reference to the appetizers...all help is sincerely appreciated!
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