Since Friday was the first day of spring, I decided it would also be the day to wake up the WFO for pizza Friday. I removed the 'coked' wood from the last fireing, split it and set it up in the oven. Lit the fire and let it burn while I had a nice glass of Cabernet. Since she was just waking up from a long winters nap, I let the fire grow slowly, but long. After about 2.5 hours, I decided it was time to start prepping the pizza's. Earlier in the afternoon, I sliced up some roma tomatoes on a drying rack, seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic & italian seasonings. I shredded some mozzerella, and fresh parmigian cheeses and mixed up some olive oil, garlic, s&P, and italian seasonings to dress the white pizza. My daughter (14) made some red sauce for her homemade polenta earlier in the week and I used that for my red pizza. The third pizza was cooked inside in a cast iron skillet. I sauteed some spinach, onions, garlic, olive oil, salt & pepper for that one and topped it with some feta cheese. That's one of our favorites. I had 2 different doughs for the outdoor pizza's, one with King Arthur Bread flour, and the other with Caputo Pizza flour. They both turned out excellent. I learned a little trick, from watching the food network. I lightly flour my dough ball when I'm shaping and I lightly flour my peel. The pizza's never slid off the peel as easily as they did yesterday. Not a lot of flour on either. Anyway, after about 1.5-2 minutes the pizzas were bubbling and nice char marks and were ready to take out. My wife claimed them to be the best yet. To sum up, the white pizza had the Caputo dough with seasoned tomatoes, evoo & garlic mixture, with mozz & parm, the KA bread flour was used on the red pizza with mozz & parm, and the spinach/feta pizza was also KA bread flour. Now I can't wait until next friday.
Now you have me all hungry for pizza and no pictures to even drool over. They sound fantastic.
I would love to see more WFO cooking photos and recipes. It's WFO pizza time around here too!!
You guys are making me jealous! My Mud Oven is still snowbound, but it is receding daily. Won't be long till I'm firing it up. I'll post some pics when I do.
Looking forward to your photos and don't forget any recipes...the weather is good here in SD,CA. but Im just as anxious for you to be able to use your oven....I can appreciate your wanting to "Fire It Up"!
i'd like to see pics too plz. i think i must have the most rustic, primative, homemade oven. i do love it but it does need a little adjustmets eg a door would be good. and maybe some tiles on the thin sheet of metal. other than that its brick, cute not pretty, and has turned out some of the best woodfired 'manooche' i ever tasted.
love seeing pics of other people's ovens. i was so jealous of jamie oliver's oven when i saw it on tv.
I think this would be a good place for everyone to post a photo of their ovens...this is mine..waiting to be moved!! It is from Forno Bravo in California.
I was practicing some multiple baking this day...pizza, bread and pork roast. Results are posted on my blog! I would love anyone's special recipes for baking or cooking in a WFO.
Sylvia in San Diego, CA
Sylvia, - Nice oven. Is that the one that had to be cranned in over the house? Have you any ideas for the foundation appearance when you do the final placement? I remember you once said that you would be moving in down the yard a bit.
Thank you, this is the one! I want it to sit on it's own little patio with a walkway matching the one adjoining the back of the house. Also I want to enclose the bottom around the iron supports for holding the wood. It is a real big problem getting something so heavy moved just a few yards away...but that is the future plans. Because the front yard is so large and long it could only be reached over to the side yard.....several men then had to move it slowly on the ground to where it now it's and then it was assembled on the iron supports...this was all a total surprise for a Christmas gift...so planning for where it would sit permanent was yet planned! Good thing is I can use it without any problems!
Have you been cooking up anything lately? I want to be able to judge the temperature of my oven by useing only my hand...no thermo. I'm getting pretty good at it and the counting system 1 thousand 2 thousand ect. works great...Im even getting pretty good at how much heat to put in for hours of heat needed!
Didn't you take a trip to San Diego?
There's no pressure to move it anyway I suppose. I don't rely on the temperature gauges much now, as one can tell when it's up to temperature by the look of the oven and how the fire's behaving. I find it's goes into a "cruise" mode when it's near the desired temperature and takes care of itself as long as you feed it a few logs occasionally.
No, I'm not the person who when to San Diego. I was last in the US in 2004 and had a brief stay in LA before going to NY and Boston to see my brother in Lexington. Had a great time. We were blown away by the immense size of NY city. We loved it.
Cheers for now.
This is my backyard brick oven built mostly from second hand materials late 2005. This is a dome style with an internal diametre of 1.1m. It's going great. We use it for pizzas (of course) and roasts mostly. I have to wait for the temperature to come down to 3 Missisippi's for bread baking (put you fist in the oven and if you can hold it while you say 3 x Missisippis the temperature is OK. ).
Gavin, Your wfo has a lot of style and personality. One of a kind....you are a very talented artist/mason! Im going to switch to mississippies... ; )
Here is a series of photos of Sunday pizza dinner this past week. I used a modified version of PR's ciabatta bread recipe -- sourdough starter, added a Tbsp each of honey and oil.
Carmelizing some onions while the dough rises.
Here's about one firing worth of wood. (I actually used a few additional sticks 'cause I had to hold dinner for about 1/2 hour - My Lovely Assistant was held up a bit on an errand.)
This is the starting load. I light this with a bit of wax/sawdust kindling about 1 cubic inch in size. I have never had any problems with this adding any flavor to the food -- after all, it's pretty small, and the food isn't cooked until about an hour after it's burned up!
The fire gets going in earnest. This stack of wood will burn pretty well for about 1/2 hour, then I begin to add additional fuel a stick or two at a time, keeping the flame pretty high, for about another 1/2 hour. By then, the oven is usually "white hot" and ready for cooking (or soaking, depending on what's on the menu). Notice the black carbon soot on the oven walls above about 6". You'll see that completely disappear, starting with the dome over the fire, as the masonry heats to 900° at which point the carbon burns off.
The coals are raked to the sides of the oven, and a nice bright fire is kept burning. (Notice the clean brick.) The idea is that the flames should be big enough to run up the dome so the food gets broiled by the flame and baked by the masonry's heat. I like to pre-bake my pizza shells. Here's one under fire. It takes 1-1/2 to 2 minutes to bake.
And here it is after the first baking. Just starting to carmelize and crisp up. At this point, the shells freeze really well for later in the week -- IF you can resist eating it right away, that is! I spray a bit of olive oil and add a sprinkle of garlic salt to the top prior to baking.
After the shells were cooked, and while waiting for My Lovely Assistant to return home, I tossed in a few tomatos to roast. (Note the couple of small sticks of kindling on the left on the coals. These are to generate a bit of smoke to flavor the tomatos.) These are REALLY good on pizza. I had also roasted a red pepper in front of the fire earlier while the oven was heating.
Here's the shell, reloaded into the oven with the toppings -- roasted pepper, roasted tomato, fresh basil and goat cheese. It only takes about a minute or two in the oven to finish. I woulda taken a picture after it came out, but I wasn't quick enough with the camera! ;-) At this point, you can rake out the fire, let the oven temper a bit, and bake bread and/or desert while you're having a leasurely dinner -- clafouti, chocky chips, or even a pie works well.
After the cooking's done, it's time to get started on the next time. The oven is loaded with wood to dry ("coking") for the next firing. It's hard to tell scale here, but I shoot for sticks with a max thickness of about 2". I end up splitting a typical fireplace-type log into 3 or 4 sticks. The extra-dry, thinner sticks burn faster, hotter, and with less smoke, so the oven heats up with a minumum of fuel. This is enough wood for one firing plus some left over -- I'm building up a stockpile of coked wood 'cause I'm having a party soon where I expect to serve about 20 pizzas.
Close the door and let the wood dry until next time. The oven is still around 400°-500°, and will still be well over 200° the next morning. So the wood gets really light and dry after coking, and it burns like -- well, you saw up above. When you add one of these sticks to the fire, it literally bursts into flame in just a few seconds.
ClimbHi, Great photos, yummy pizza's. Nice writeup! We get some pretty good rainy downpours and I also like placing the wood in the warmed oven to dry it out.
I love roasted peppers...perfect in the a wfo. My Italian girlfriend gave me her mom's recipe years ago...simple..just peel add salt, cover with EVOO and minced garlic and marinate...she always had pepper sandwiches for her lunch in elementary school...we've been friends since 3rd grade about 45 yrs. I always thought those sandwiches were gross...I liked my soggy lettuce and tomato ones better...ha, ha....now I'm hooked on roasted peppers eaten any which way...My first slice of pizza...was made by her mother! Thanks for the memories and photos of your really nice wfo and indoor stove is also very nice!
you definately need to try fire roasting tomatoes and other veggies. One of my clients owns a wood-fired pizza shop. Going to his shop and, more specifically, the oven-roasted tomatoes that he serves, was what clinched the deal for us building our own wood-fired oven. They are a whole 'nother beast than the standard fare. Fire roasting adds a bit of sweetness and smokey flavor that helps put a pizza right over the top!
His pizza crusts are still better than mine. But I'm catching up!
I love the way roasting brings out the carmelized sweetness in veggies...one of my favorite is yams...sure beats a soggy tomato sandwich!
Great job, ClimbHi!
I really enjoyed looking at your pix. That pizza must've tasted fantastic!
Great pictures. Very interesting how others have slightly different approaches to preparing the oven and firing. My oven takes about 3 hours to get up to temperature (bricks turned white). I have two thermocouples buried in the bricks about 30mm from the inner surface of the oven, one in the floor and one in the dome. When the dome thermocouple is 350°C the ambient temperature of the oven is about 800°C and the bricks are well soaked with heat.
I'm going to start loading my wood into the oven at the end of the day as you do; thanks for the tip. I buy seasoned red gum here in Australia and occasionally yellow box - both are hard and burn very hot and long.
My oven, while relatively hi-mass and highly insulated, is pretty small -- only about 3' X 2' inside -- so it heats pretty quickly. It was a good trade off for us. It'll usually hold enough for our needs, and takes less fuel/time. I can bake 5 baguettes or 3 or 4 loaves of bread at once (usually enough for us for a week or more), or 1 pizza at a time, or one turkey, or one pork butt, etc.
I decided against the thermocouples since they added cost for a feature that, based on what others have said, would not be used much once I learned my oven's characteristics. That said, my scientific self kinda wishes I could have gathered data to build a detailed heat profile for the oven. Just 'cause it would've been be fun.
I burned maple for the first year or so, thanks to some neighborhood trees that came down. When that ran out, I was forced to buy a cord of cherry. The cherry is OK, but I like the maple better. I've also burned a good bit of white and red oak, courtesy of some construction projects that created a bunch of scrap. It burns hot, but not as fast. So, so far, maple is my favorite fuel of the ones I've tried.
As for pre-drying the wood, it works well if you don't fire every day, since it makes good use of heat that is otherwise wasted. However, if you fire every day, it seems to be a disadvantage since it's better to keep the oven hotter than to lower the masonry temp by drying the wood. So, if I'm going to fire twice over the weekend, I don't coke any wood after the first firing so I retain the oven's heat.
earth oven, built in 2008 out of reclaimed materials.
Beautifully done...I especially like the way you designed the base for your oven.