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Old 08-10-2014, 09:16 AM
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Location: Aviston, IL
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Default oven opening

I'll be starting my oven build in the next week or so and have a question about the size and shape of the oven opening. I'm going with the 42" oven and would like to be able to make large pizza (20-24"). I was thinking that the width of the opening would have to be at least 25" to fit the peel comfortable. I was thinking that I would make the bottom of the opening wider than the rest of the opening, or just have the height of the opening lower than it would be if going strictly by the 42" plans that I downloaded from this site.

Now for the question: is it the area (square inches) of the opening that matters or the height of the opening, or both?

A bit of more information as I'm pretty sure it could matter is that I would like to go with the low dome model (15.5" height, I think).

Thanks in advance,
Eric
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Old 08-12-2014, 09:17 AM
Peasant
 
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Location: puget sound, wa
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Default Re: oven opening

In my opinion, you can make the opening as wide as you want. I wouldn't mess too much with the height, though.

A wider opening will certainly "leak" more heat out the front, but that just requires more fuel to maintain temperature.

Of course, I haven't even finished my oven, so my opinion is just that.
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Old 08-12-2014, 10:42 AM
SableSprings's Avatar
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Location: Roseburg, OR USA
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Default Re: oven opening

First of all, congratulations on deciding to build your oven. As Pluscwc noted above, the 63% opening height to dome height ratio is the important issue...and you've actually got a fair amount of wiggle room there--63% is just the optimum number. The width is more about what you're going to use while baking.

My personal opinion on the width of the opening is that you need to think about any pan/implement you're going to use in the cooking process. That said, a full sheet pan is 18" wide and the standard pizza peel is only 16" across. Making a 20-24" pizza is going to be a bit of a challenge. You'd be looking at a special/custom peel, oven door(s), making a larger/wider chimney system, expanding your landing area, and having less space to keep a good fire going while allowing for the pizza turning & separation from the fire. My oven is 39" inside diameter and the opening is 19" wide. No problems using the pizza peel or baking biscotti on a full sheet pan (or baking a large turkey on a rack). I've found that smaller pizzas work better for groups at the Dragonfly Den because people want to make "their own" pies and like to try just a small piece of a variety of other flavor combos.

Whatever you decide to do, it will be a blast! Looking forward to watching the progress on your build.
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Old 08-12-2014, 10:53 AM
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Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
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Default Re: oven opening

Eric,

Mike is spot on, 20-24" pies are very large. I find that 10-12" work well for most people and I can cook 3 maybe 4 at a time if I pay attention (my oven is 42" ID). At 700 degrees they cook very fast. I load with 14" wood peel and remove with a 10" SS turning peel. No one ever starves.
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Old 08-12-2014, 11:54 AM
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Location: Aviston, IL
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Default Re: oven opening

Thanks for the input and I still have time (at least a week) to decide as I need to work on the hearth first.

My brother in law found a large peel for me a couple of years ago and it's about 24" across. I was thinking of trimming it down a bit whether I want a 20" pie or not.
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Old 08-12-2014, 02:46 PM
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Default Re: oven opening

If I were in your place, and really wanted to make a pizza that size, I would put it this simple:

The oven breathes in cold air from the lower half of the opening and exhausts hot air from the top half of it.

What is the thickest pizza ever? TWO INCHES? It is less. Thus I will feel free to increase the width of the opening at the bottom (around TWO INCHES from the bottom up) to the desired width for handling the big pizzas.

You may moreover compensate for this increase in opening area by making the arch more aggressive without reducing its height.

PS: You may fill the cuts at both sides with insulation fire bricks when you want to use the oven for ordinary cooking and remove them when you want to use it for your big pizzas.
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Last edited by v12spirit; 08-12-2014 at 07:56 PM.
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Old 08-14-2014, 06:48 AM
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Location: Bucks County, PA
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Default Re: oven opening

Eric:

I am struggling with the idea of managing a large 24" pizza in a 42 inch oven. I made a quick image of a 42 inch oven with a 25" opening, showing a 24" pie (see attached). A few things become apparent. 1. maneuvering a 24" pie around will be extremely difficult. 2. There is little room for an active filre on either side. IF you do have a fire going, you will likely burn one side of the crust, due to the close proximity of the pie to the fire.

I have a 42 inch oven with a 20" wide opening. and feel the largest pie that I can comfortably manage is about 16". Typically, I do two or three 12" pies at a time.

From an oven performance perspective, I dont think the extra width of the opening will be a problem, I would however try to conserve the frontal area by reducing the height of your opening (as was suggrested by someone else).
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Old 08-14-2014, 07:55 AM
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Location: Aviston, IL
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Default Re: oven opening

I hear what you're saying but ...

why do I have to cook while the fire is still in full force? Isn't the point of the firebrick and insulation to heat and have the heat held by the oven?

I'm not saying that I only want to make big pizza, but I want the oven to have that ability.
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Old 08-14-2014, 09:46 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: USA
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Default Re: oven opening

Wow...those would be BIG pizzas! I would at least like to see one that size!

I believe most of the chains normally sell a "large" 14" pizza. I think PH once sold an "extra large" 16" pie. We have a local brick oven pizzeria that has two 84" ovens but the largest pizza they offer is 14".

The surface area of a 14" circle is about 615 square inches.
The surface area of a 20" circle is about 1256 square inches.
The surface area of a 24" circle is a whopping 1809 square inches.

Really gets me thinking....but I'll probably stick with 14" as my largest size.
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Old 08-14-2014, 10:41 AM
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Default Re: oven opening

Quote:
Originally Posted by ericecon View Post
why do I have to cook while the fire is still in full force? Isn't the point of the firebrick and insulation to heat and have the heat held by the oven?

I'm not saying that I only want to make big pizza, but I want the oven to have that ability.
In order to cook a pizza properly you need to have a higher temp on top (dome) than on the bottom (hearth). You want the dough cooked from below but you want your toppings to be bubbly/done & browned. Although your oven will store a significant amount of heat you will find that keeping a constant fire going makes for successful pizza because of that continuing heat/flame rolling up and over. Even with a fire, many of us often use the technique of doming (lifting the pizza up closer to the dome) to finish toppings. Physically turning and manipulating the pie to get a consistent & well done pizza crust and top will become more of a challenge as your pizza size increases.

Another thought is that you will have a pretty good fire roaring to bring the hearth & dome up to pizza temp...and if you want to clear out the fire/coals/ash before cooking...you are going to need a big shovel, big bucket, and a fire-proof outfit

Cooking with a wood fired oven is about compromise and working with what you've got...nobody is going to get upset if you present them with a personal 6"-8" or a slice from a 14" pie instead of a huge pizza. The perfect pizza oven is not the perfect bread oven and the perfect bread oven doesn't make perfect pizza, i.e. make a low domed oven that's perfect for pizza and it will be more difficult to cook a beer can (vertical) chicken or roast a turkey without burning the top of the bird(s)...it's about compromise. If you want lots of options (pizza and perfect bread, poultry, ribs, beans, biscotti, & cookies...) then you might have to compromise your thoughts about having that occasional huge pizza.

Eric, you can build whatever size of oven you want and it will have the capability to produce fabulous food...we're just trying to give you some of our thoughts based on experience working with our own (and others) WFOs. And no matter what you ultimately decide about your build, we're all interested and want you to succeed!
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Last edited by SableSprings; 08-14-2014 at 12:08 PM.
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