After something like 6 weeks of construction, you can bet that we were ready to bake.
First things first, fires can be annoying. It’s easy to start a fire with paper and kindling, but keeping it roaring is not a task at which I am particularly adept. For this reason, we purchased a product called “envirologs.” These are essentially logs made out of compacted paper that burn really well. They lite up immediately and will burn for about 2-3 hours. Hopefully as my fire skills improve I’ll be able to cheapen out my fuel source.
At times, the fire was so fierce flames would billow out of the arch.
And obviously, since I’m kinda geeky, I had borrowed a thermal camera from work for oven analysis.
Please note: these temperatures are Celsius. Wait, celsius? Heck yeah it’s Celsius! 600°C is over 1,100°F. Awesome!!
But… there was a problem. The inside of the dome was definitely reaching impressive temperatures but the firebrick cooking surface wasn’t that hot at all. The theory here was that with the fresh air streaming into the oven along the base of the arch was keeping the cooking surface coolish.
Shaun L. to the rescue.
Shaun looked for tips online and found the key suggestion: As the log falls into embers, spread those embers across the base of the oven. Let the embers pre-heat the brick. Then brush those aside and get to cookin.
With this new strategy in place, it was time to cook some pizza.
Those last two shots are pretty interesting. Basically, the top of the pizza is cooking beautifully from the radiant heat off the dome. But the bottom wasn’t hot enough, and wasn’t crisping up the way that I wanted. On the first day of cooking, the best we did was cook a pizza in 5 minutes. Yeah… that’s pretty fast, but not as fast as the experts. And the result was weak – literally weak. The pizza when held would droop dramatically. It didn’t have the crispiness to support its weight.
BUT! One helpful solution was clear: Sweep out a more direct line of ash and stick the pizza deeper into the oven. We did this on Wednesday night with much better results: 3 minute pizzas with improved crispy. Awesome!
I’m going to continue to adjust my cooking techniques an a quest for the ultimate pizza. Still, I’m quite pleased with the quality of the food coming out of my oven.
A big thanks to everyone who helped build it, especially Jen, Shaun, Brian, and Kev. Huge help those four. Here’s to pizza!!