The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Oven temperatures

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littlelisa's picture
littlelisa

Oven temperatures

Hi all

I recently installed a wood burning oven at my house. It's an Italian product called the Piazzetta Chef - specs are here http://www.piazzetta.it/en-US/Product/Details/cooking/chef-102. It's a barrel-vault shape, with a front door (as you can see in the link).

We've fired it up a few times already, with reasonably good results. But I'd like to get more consistently high temperatures, and am wondering:

1) What temperature do you fire your oven to before baking? And for long do you fire up before you bake?

2) How do you measure your temps? I have an infra red beam thermometer that measures a spot beamed on the surface. My surface temps are between 200 and 250 ˚C (390- 480 ˚F) at time of baking. Should they be higher than that?

3) Any tips for maintaining consistent high temps inside the oven?

4) What are your views on oven curing? Our oven came with fairly vague instructions to "start with several moderate ignitions" (Italian instruction booklet!!) So we fired up 2-3 times at 180 to 250 ˚C. Will it take longer than that to retain its heat? I'm hoping we haven't done any damage by going too hot too fast..

Thanks

Lisa

DavidEF's picture
DavidEF

Wow, they really don't give you much info at all at that link! There is a pdf file download link at the bottom of that page, claiming to be "full technical data" but it is just a pdf copy of the same page, with limited info!

A couple things I did find interesting: "double air chamber at the top for greater heat recovery", "and an thermometer inside."

Does yours have the thermometer inside? If so, what temp range does it cover? What is its upper limit? That will tell you what the manufacturers expect from this oven. Also, how do the readings on the "thermometer inside" compare to the readings you're getting from your infrared beam thermometer?

littlelisa's picture
littlelisa

Hi David

Thanks for the reply... hehe yes the link is pretty hopeless.

The oven does have a thermometer, but it seems to be positioned at the door and actually seems to measure the temperature at the door - which is generally the coolest spot. The manufacturer thermometer runs to a maximum of 300˚C, and according to the (similarly limited) instruction booklet, this is the maximum temp that the manufacturers reckon is necessary for baking bread (?!!) This thermoter tends to hit its higher readings (250 to 300) during firing, then drop to around 150 when I've opened the door to do anything like rearrange coals or put loaves/pizzas in. But when that is reading 150, my IR beam is still reading 200 to 220 off the floor and sides, and more than that off the dome ceiling.

When I use the IR beam thermometer, the inner surfaces (floor, sides, top, range from 190˚C around cooler areas to close to 300˚C on the top). As I mentioned, the floor and sides seem to hold consistent heat in a range from 200 to 220, but it's a little low for my liking. In my electric-oven baking experience, I like to start with a temp around 250 for at least ten minutes or til bread has sprung and started to develop colour - later I lower to about 180 for remainder of baking.

What temps do you work with in your WFO? And how do you push up high temps? (if you do)

Neddy's picture
Neddy

Two friends and myself, have each built wood fired ovens based on the Alan Scott design. All three ovens have multiple thermocouples roughly placed the same, yet each oven seems to behave differently with regard to heat dispersion. We have concluded that one needs to learn their own oven by trial and error. You will be amazed how your knowledge and results will improve with practice. I recommend keeping detailed notes and trying for consistency with regard to your reading locations and results produced. As you well know, they are no electric oven!

Generally for pizza, our temps are quite high, in the 800 degree range, and with an active fire in the vault rear. We try for temps 50-80 degrees higher than in our regular house oven at the start. If we are baking for a longer period, the oven is fired a few hours early with a moderate fire to heat the mass. The more evenly the oven and insulation are heated, the more consistent your baking temp will remain. Common sense. 

our oven has 14" of insulation. With 4-5 hours of firing it will cook for a couple of days. Depending on the menu, there may be re-firing or not. Sometimes we will add a small fire or bring back some coals to give a little smokiness to a dish. Experiment, take notes and evaluate, and enjoy. You are about to cook some of the best food ever!