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First big firing advice needed

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cliffgarz's picture
cliffgarz

First big firing advice needed

I just finished my oven and am planning a party on the 3rd of July about 20 -25 people I have always done small house parties of 8 - 10 and pizzas in the house oven.  this will be the first using my brick oven any advice?

cliffgarz's picture
cliffgarz

i have been firing small fires and have taken it up to 500 degrees but i'm not sure how to get it hotter - just keep adding more wood?


 


thanks

Supes On's picture
Supes On

I built my oven two years ago and have had many large parties.  First, you need to be sure you have started several small fires for several days to cure the oven.  Don't go with a full firing the first time.


I make all my dough the night before using a recipe from American Pie.  I portion out the balls and refridgerate until a couple of hours before I intend to bake.  Don't take all the dough out at the same time though--stagger the timing to coincide with the time it takes to prepare and bake.  There is some leeway but if you are serving 25 you will want to delay some of the dough balls to have them at their prime when you get to them.


I suppose it would be obvious to say that you need to organize your prep station so you can quickly stretch, prepare and bake.


I have several peels so one approach I have used is to stretch dough for three or four pizzas, each on its own peel, and let my guests add sauce and toppings to their liking.  It does take a little coaxing sometimes to convince them that less is more with pizza toppings.  It only takes a couple of minutes to bake--I do two at a time.  I have tried letting my guests try to stretch their own pie, but have found that NOT to be efficient AT ALL!  Having a competent helper at the prep station helps a lot so I can spend most of my time at the oven.


It doesn't take long for to feed a group of 25!


Good luck with your first gala!


 

Supes On's picture
Supes On

Basically getting the oven fully fired is a matter of time.  Mine can take four hours to fully load the heat sink.  I have recently read that pre-firing can shorten that time.  The idea is to use several small fires the day preceding your baking to start loading the heat sink and giving the heat time to radiate fully to the outer layer.  Then, on baking day, build a big fire and the oven will come up to temp quite quickly (for a wood fired oven that is).

Roo's picture
Roo

I don't know it might be fun and a source of laughs to let your guests shape and top their own pies.  As Canukjim says who cares if it looks like Africa it is still going to taste good.


Be careful firing your oven up to pizza temp to soon.  Keep the curing fires going and gradully get to the 750-800 degrees.  From what I have read the more curing fires you can do the better.


As to getting above 500 what are you doing to get it there?  What type of oven? 

longhorn's picture
longhorn

Couple of thoughts....


First, keep building bigger fires in the oven and burning longer. If you have only reached 500 you are no where near fully dry yet. If you have reached 500 you should be ready to build a big enough fire to clear the dome and that should IMO be done fairly soon if you are to be ready for the 3rd. The dome will clear at a temp of 750. I would suggest getting it there, stop feeding the fire and let it mostly burn down, then close it up and let the heat soak into the refractory. Clearing the dome should occur within an hour or so if you have a reasonable size fire. Then (ideally even the next day while the oven is still warm, clean it out and start a bigger longer fire. This time clear the dome (it will almost certainly soot back up when you start a new fire) and keep burning a good size fire for another hour.  It wouldn't hurt to do an even longer burn once more before the third. Be sure to have roasts and chickens, and whatever to slow cook in the residual heat as the oven cools the next day after firing.


WRT the party, I would suggest you keep it simple for your first party. Yes, make your own dough using a good recipe involving overnight retard! For tomato sauce buy commercial and doctor it with red wine vinegar and more oregano/marjoram. Use bagged preshredded mozz and don't try to make a bunch of different pizzas. There will be enough learning curve for the first party that I would not recommend getting fancy or complicated. And I would not suggest letting your guests make their own pizzas for your first party. Get some experience and then get more daring and complex. I personally find it much easier/preferable to be complex when dealing with no more than about ten people. When I go over that it is IMO much easier and preferable to keep it simple. Otherwise you will have no time for your guests. 


Good Luck!


Jay

CanuckJim's picture
CanuckJim

There is a definite learning curve, head switch when it comes to firing a WFO.  Without additional information on the oven type, added mass (if any), fuel type, etc., it's difficult to make specific recommendations about firing times.


What you do want to reach is what's called the "secondary burn" stage, where the gasses themselves inside the oven are burning.  I call it the "Plasma Beast." To reach that stage, you need a really big, bright (lots of flame) fire that pretty well fills the chamber.  This is much, much different from a woodstove or fireplace.  The rule is not to be timid about firing and not to localize it in the center of the oven floor.


This is a tricky business to discuss this way.  Suggest you send me an email.  I'll respond with my phone number, and we can go over the procedures.


I do have photographs of what I call the five stages of firing in a WFO.


CJ

ClimbHi's picture
ClimbHi

"Plasma Beast" in you oven = "Horror Movie Flames" in mine. I love it when the oven gets to this stage. The flames no longer burn "up" -- they just burn -- all over, like the air itself is on fire. I assume this is caused by the fact that the air in the oven is pretty much as hot as the flaming gasses, so they no longer rise as they burn. "You'll know it when you see it."


That said, for a beginner, a 1000 degree oven might be a tad warm to keep from burning up the pizzas. It's easily do-able with experience, but for a newbee, I'd suggest just getting the oven just clean hot and keep a small, but bright fire burning off to the side. Don't try to impress the company with 90-second pizzas the first time out of the box. ;-)


ClimbHi
Pittsburgh, PA

cliffgarz's picture
cliffgarz

ok send me an email cliffgarz@garzzillo.com and I'll forward my number.  My oven is based on an AS it's inner dimension is 44 x 56 19' high vault door opening in 21 x 13 Still working on getting the Diamateous earth layer and the final insulation layer images can be seen at www.garzzillo.com under the oven tab.  I already have a great dough recipe that I have been using in home for the last 20 years also a great sauce recipe that I got from a pizza guy in sorrento Italy a couple of years ago my wife is from that are so getting info is really easy.  My oven has been in the works for over two year the arches or fire box part was completed in May and the concrete cladding finished 2 weeks ago I am building small fires and tonight i'll make a larger fire I'll just keep throwing more wood on it.  


thanks


Cliff