Author Topic: UUNI modifications and pies  (Read 6572 times)

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Offline Gags

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UUNI modifications and pies
« on: October 06, 2013, 02:03:02 AM »
I was disappointed with the poor deck temp of the UUNI the first time I tried it, so I bought a pack of quarry tiles from Home Depot and modified the oven.  At the same time, I wanted to try a different recipe and give another go at Neapolitan style, so I tried the Mozza recipe as outlined here:
http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,16033.40.html

I know that the Mozza recipe calls for about 550F temp, but my kitchen oven is a bit lame, so I figured I'd combine efforts and try to adjust the heat and cooking times as I went. 

Photos below...
- I lined the deck with tile and, since I had extra, lined the roof 2x high.
- The dough progressed nicely and I followed the instructions very closely.  Each time I worked the dough, there was a great aroma.
- And the pies...a couple Neapolitan attempts, one NY style chicken pizza, and a pepperoni.

Notes:

- I would open the aperture on the fan baffle quite a bit during prep to get the overall oven and oven floor temperatures up.  This seemed to help a lot with the problems I first noted with this oven and the undercooked skin / interior.  Each of the pies I baked had nice bottom coloring.
- Then I would restrict airflow more during actual bake so I wouldn't burn the top. 
- I noticed the dough was really good to work with and not too high in moisture, but I used a liberal amount of bench flour and quite a bit of semolina on my wooden peel.  I didn't want to risk getting one stuck in the oven.
- It also seemed to have great spring around the mid-way point, but the last couple of pies didn't have much spring and tore more easily.  But I was throwing it pretty thin at that point, so I'm not sure.  I noticed that Mozza pies tend to have a thicker cornice, more like my first pie.
- The UUNI is fun and you will get a few burns along the way as you try to reload the pellet chute.  But the quest continues...
« Last Edit: October 06, 2013, 02:30:21 AM by Gags »
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Offline jsperk

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Re: UUNI modifications and pies
« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2013, 09:28:59 AM »
Looks good. Is 12 inch about the biggest pie you can get in the uuni?

Offline Gags

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Re: UUNI modifications and pies
« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2013, 04:27:13 PM »
Yep - you might be able to push to 14" or so, but that would be pushing it.
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Offline norcoscia

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Re: UUNI modifications and pies
« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2013, 05:28:32 PM »
Great looking pies Gags, hope mine come out 1/2 that nice - how much did you restrict airflow during the bake, was it ~25% open, 50% or something else.?

That seems to be important (from what I have read). I have an extra pizza stone that is about 14.5 X 16.5 and if I know my luck, it will be .5 inches too wide to fit.

I think adding a base may be something I want to try, guess I'll find out tomorrow when I get the oven - thanks for posting the detailed pics and tips!
« Last Edit: October 06, 2013, 06:04:04 PM by norcoscia »

Offline Gags

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Re: UUNI modifications and pies
« Reply #4 on: October 06, 2013, 05:46:13 PM »
Hopefully your stone will fit - I first tried my 12" round stone and I felt it definitely improved things.  The problem was that I had to be very precise with shooting the pie in the oven and risked dropping off either the far side or not having enough stone on the near side when "unpeeling."  And there's not much vertical room to come down onto the stone at an angle, if that makes sense.  So that's why I went with tile.

Regarding the aperture on the slide, I was amazed at how little I use!

When heating the chamber, maybe I'm at 40-50%.  Anything greater and you'll go through a full chute of pellets in very little time and you'll start smoking the wooden door handle on the front!  But maybe I'll get a little more ambitious in the future to really help bring up the deck temp. 

When cooking, I might be all the way down to the last cm or half-cm of opening.  The airflow is still pretty intense through that small aperture and it can sneak below and above the regulator slide, or whatever we want to call that thing.  You think you'll smother the fire, but I think it's one of those less-is-more kind of things.  When I look in the oven at this point, I like to see a moderate flame reaching in and touching the back 1/3rd of the ceiling.

A couple more suggestions:
1) Play with the airflow when lighting the fire - just like a BBQ, you'll find just the right airflow to get going.
2) Allow a few seconds for your airflow adjustments to take effect.  There's a bit of a delayed reaction with the fire.
3)  Definitely have oven gloves or mitts on your table!! Sometimes you'll need to move the feeder chute back in place or you may even dislodge the horizontal burner chute.  It's good to be able to get them back in place quickly and without getting burned.  Trust me on this one! LOL! Luckily I had my gloves on when my fire feeder chute started falling off! (My error) I was soon holding a flamethrower trying to get it reinstalled!! If that happens to you, quickly disconnect the batteries and things will become more manageable.

Good luck, take pics, and share your thoughts when you get it going!



« Last Edit: October 06, 2013, 05:48:44 PM by Gags »
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Offline norcoscia

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Re: UUNI modifications and pies
« Reply #5 on: October 06, 2013, 06:03:09 PM »
Thanks so much - that is critical information!

I would have never thought to back it off that much - glad you told me. I would hate to ruin too many pies trying to learn to drive it. I did make one extra small dough ball to test it out. I still plan to use it as a test.

I have never cooked on temps that high, I went with 00 Flour (with a bit of starter) and almost 70% hydration - I'm worried about those high temps.

So, in summary -- going to use a never before tried oven with never before tired pizza dough - pray for me Gags  ;D

Offline norcoscia

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Re: UUNI modifications and pies
« Reply #6 on: October 08, 2013, 02:19:01 PM »
Just posting a few pictures of my UUNI break-in fire and test dough. Pretty happy given it was my first try and I'm using a dough recipe I have not tried before. I plan to cook some pies later - hope my luck holds....

PS. The UUNI is OK but it is obvious this is a first run by someone that is very innovative but lacks experience with manufacturing. I had to do a lot of sanding and some pounding with a hammer to get things working smoothly. Also, I wish the unit was made of stainless, I guess time will tell if it will last w/o too much rusting. 

Offline Gags

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Re: UUNI modifications and pies
« Reply #7 on: October 09, 2013, 12:15:37 AM »
Thanks for posting pix so quickly!

Did you try the test dough at all? I found my first attempts seemed soggy / undercooked inside.  That led to stone and tile mods.

Did you find the top cooked more so than the bottom?

What did you think of the heat and baffle/regulator thing?  Did you fill the chute with pellets and fire it up?  I made that mistake in my first firings and burned the door handle due to the transmitted heat! LOL!

« Last Edit: October 09, 2013, 12:17:57 AM by Gags »
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Offline norcoscia

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Re: UUNI modifications and pies
« Reply #8 on: October 09, 2013, 01:02:37 PM »
Yes, it is not easy to get a good balance between the top and bottom. My 14.5 X 16 inch stone did not fit but I put in a 12 inch round stone I had laying around. I think it will take some trial and error to make good pies consistently. Maybe I'll try a heavy steel base, I think it will dump more heat to the bottom in less time, then, hopefully, I can crank up the top heat and cook a pizza in about 2 min.

With no toppings it was easy, but once I added everything else I had the same experience as you. If I turned up the heat, the top would cook too fast and if I turned it down, then it took too long to cook.

I also did not care for my experimental dough recipe, Plus I did not get enough gluten development (my fault) so next time I'm going back to my normal recipe and I'll see what happens.

Not a disaster but I did have a few exciting moments between running the new oven and trying to use my new wet / weak dough. Here are a few pics.

BTW, my door handle did get a little brown but I don't think you can run the oven up to the temps I want without that happening, guess that is why you added some extra insulation. I might try something like that a bit later - right now I want to work on a good even quick cook. The oven does eat a lot of pellets when it is going wide open.

Thanks again for your posts they are helpful, I think with some work this oven can turn out a good pie. I'm also going to try roasting some other items - I'll post pics and any info that might be useful....

Offline Gags

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Re: UUNI modifications and pies
« Reply #9 on: October 10, 2013, 02:03:28 PM »
Bummer on the low deck temp!
As I was looking at your pix, I thought the top looked great.
Then I saw the bottom and know that all too well...

We gotta figure out the low deck temp issue!
I was thinking of options:
- Get a small deck fire going too, then push off to the side?

Really crazy ideas:
- Build an internal baffle on a hinge (kind of like a chimney flue) that could shoot that flame downwards if selected.
- Weld a can on the underside and light a fire in that, which would direct heat straight up to the deck!!
- Throw it away and build a real brick oven!!!   :-D
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Offline norcoscia

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Re: UUNI modifications and pies
« Reply #10 on: October 10, 2013, 04:33:47 PM »
I have high hopes for 15 lbs of steel, seems like a 1/4 thick steel deck would heat up fast and quickly dump all the heat to the bottom of a pie - I'm thinking there should be a sweet spot that would balance the top and bottom - just hoping that spot ends up with a cook time of 2 min or less and the deck recovery time is short. It would be nice to find a spot that would work for preheat and cook. No futzing with the air regulator.

If that does not work it is going to get a lot more complicated  ???

Offline norcoscia

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Added 1/4" 14"X14" steel plate to UUNI
« Reply #11 on: October 12, 2013, 08:03:36 PM »
Just a quick post, I tried my UUNI again but this time I added a 1/4 inch steel plate that was 14"x14".

I let it heat up for 15 min and then cooked my first pie, I'm also trying another new dough recipe (not sure why I did that again)

I left the air regulator in the same position for both preheat and cooking, it was open to the point you could just see the small point coming out of the side of the edge - so maybe 3/4 or a bit more open. When the front door was opened the flames just kissed the opening.

The first pie cooked OK but the bottom was a bit underdone, the second and third pies came out nice, a good char on the bottom and cooked nicely on top. I did not time it, but it was under 3 min.

So in summary -- making good progress - I think a 3/8 inch steel plate might be better but I still need to do a little more cooking with this one.

I also made an extension cord for my battery pack so I could move it away from the oven, plus the connectors I used allowed me to insert an on/off switch or I can jack in a 12v power supply if I want to. photos below..


Offline norcoscia

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Forgot, found this jelly funnel on amazon
« Reply #12 on: October 12, 2013, 08:38:17 PM »
I found this jelly funnel on amazon, it works great for adding pellets to the UUNI, fits right in the hopper....

Offline Gags

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Re: UUNI modifications and pies
« Reply #13 on: October 12, 2013, 08:44:29 PM »
Great looking pies! 
The charred bubbles on top look great!
As you said, maybe the thicker steel will give you more color on the bottom.
Excellent find on that funnel - it's definitely tricky loading the hopper if the flames are blazing!!

I have a half marathon in the morning, so I'll try again tomorrow afternoon for a post-race treat.
I'll start a Ken Forkish recipe from his book "Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast" tonight, add one more layer of tile to my deck, and boost the heat a bit - particularly before baking.

"I'd trade it all for just a little bit more"

Offline Goddahavit

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Re: UUNI modifications and pies
« Reply #14 on: October 15, 2013, 08:40:03 AM »
Are their any more updates?

I just received my uuni, and tried it, blasted through pellets very quickly, I guess i have to try running it more restricted.

My crust also was not crispy on the bottom, is a 1/4 inch steel good enough, or 3/8? how about a tile?

im looking hopefully to have as little futzing as possible with turning out a nicely done pie...

Thanks all.

Eric

Offline norcoscia

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Re: UUNI modifications and pies
« Reply #15 on: October 15, 2013, 09:54:32 AM »
Hi Goddahavit, I have not cooked on my UUNI since my last post - came down with a bad cold so I could not muster the energy to cook on it.

I think the trick is to run it long enough for the deck to heat up before sliding in a pie - I don't think it will work too good without adding some mass to the bottom. Gags is working with stone and I have been experimenting with steel.

I think both will work -- the steel may be able to cook a pie a bit quicker but I can say for sure since I have not cooked enough pizza to decide if one works that much better than the other.

If you have an old stone laying around you might want to try that since it will not cost you anything. I tried a stone and I got better results compared to not using anything.

You can dial back the heat and cook w/o a stone or steel but I think the cook time will end up 7 or more min. and it will take some futzing with the air regulator.

Glad you have one - I think if we all keep trying different things we can figure out the best way to cook on the UUNI.

PS - yes it does eat pellets...

Offline norcoscia

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UUNI mod - Door Hanger
« Reply #16 on: October 27, 2013, 05:55:16 PM »
Well, getting ready to try my UUNI again in an hour or so - wanted to post a quick picture of a door mod I made.

I was putting the door on the floor when loading and unloading my UUNI, that was not convenient and it also cause my head to get near the oven opening (there are a lot of flames in there). First picture is the hanger, second is the door on the hanger...

So I picked up a little strap cleat from a marine shop and bolted it to the front of my stand - it seems to work great - getting ready to give it it's maiden voyage - wish me luck.

PS. Also going to try preheating the UUNI for much longer to really heat up the steel plate - using dough close to my normal pie recipe - this should be interesting!

Offline norcoscia

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UUNI pies in 90 seconds
« Reply #17 on: October 27, 2013, 09:01:01 PM »
All done for today, by preheating the oven for 25 min on high I was able to cook the first pie in 90 seconds - 60 sec then a quick 180 degree turn.

To be honest the oven was too hot, some pics below. For the second pie I closed off the air damper about 3/4 of an inch more (it was open until the point just disappeared for the preheat and first pie).

I let the second pie cook 50 sec, then a 180 for 30 sec, then a 90 degree turn for 15 seconds and then about 10 seconds and out it came - still a bit too hot. I think the next time I'll be able to cook a pie in under 2 min and have it come out close to perfect.

Also posting a picture of the best way to light the UUNI, picked the mini torch up at harbor freight for about 5 bucks (not sure on the price since I picked it up years ago to light cigars.

A little happier today but keeping the UUNI going, and getting and keeping the temp right seems harder than running a wood fired steam locomotive :-)

PS., left my dough in small plastic tubs for 48 hours, right before I was ready, I inverted them and let gravity drop them out - no oil, just some water on the dough - worked pretty good. some pictures....

Offline ravishi

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Re: UUNI modifications and pies
« Reply #18 on: October 28, 2013, 12:25:59 AM »
Seeing your bottom char @norcoscia gives me a sigh of relief that the Uuni is actually capable of cooking the bottom of the pizza with the right care and modifications.  I purchased a steel plate myself so I'm hoping to replicate your results.

I have used my Uuni twice now, each time I cooked three pies.  Both attempts gave similar results to what you guys have experienced.  The results were decent but there was not enough floor heat.  The pizza's weren't doughy, just not crisp and there was very little leoparding.  The first couple pizzas cooked in about 4 minutes at 3-4cm airflow.  After being a bit disappointed with the first two, I would lower the temp and let the last pizza cook for 6-7 which gave (expectedly) good results.  I tried a 13" backing stone the second time around.  The results with the stone were better but still not what I would like to see.

I uploaded my photos:
First attempt - http://imgur.com/a/PJdic
Second attempt - http://imgur.com/a/sdfvs

I measured the surface temp of the cooking stone after letting a 15-20 minute fire at near-open airflow.  It clocked in at 590 towards the back and 540 at the front.  The roof was ranging from 600 at the front to about 850 near the fire.

What pellet type are you guys using?  I bought Oak pellets from firecraft and they give a nice smoky flavor to the dough (at my longer cook times) but the collected ash is a bit extreme for a portable oven.  Anyone know of a lower ash food-grade pellet type?  I'm thinking cherry might be better because lower smoke == lower ash?

If the baking steel alone doesn't fix the problem (although I'm more hopeful now after @norcoscia's results), I have a thought about a way to boost the floor temp.  I'm thinking of something I can wedge underneath the front of the baking steel so the entire steel piece sits at an angle.  This would force more hot air to flow over the steel.  When I'm ready to put a pizza in, I'd remove the wedged piece so it sits flat.  Anyone have thoughts on this idea and thoughts on what I could wedge in?  The one difficulty I see is trying to lift an edge of a 22lb piece of steel while it is 550+ degrees! :P

Offline norcoscia

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UUNI Pellets
« Reply #19 on: October 28, 2013, 07:20:12 AM »
Hi Ravishi, I'm using "Q" Pellets 100% Red Oak BBQ Grilling and Smoking Pellets (30 lb. Bag) but I don't recommend them. They are very long and constantly get stuck in the hopper.

Every few minutes I need to stick a long screwdriver down the hopper and wiggle it or the pellets don't feed properly. That is a big problem because (from what I have experienced) the single biggest factor affecting temperature in the UUNI, is pellet feed.

When the pellets jam the flame dies and then, when they are pushed through, the UUNI develops a huge flame - that combined with futzing with the air regulator makes it very hard to stabilize the oven.

It has been a challenge for me to keep it fed with pellets, -- keep the pellets moving, and making the pie all at the same time. I almost feel like I need a dedicated second person to tend the oven while I concentrate on the pizza.

Simplifying oven management and the black soot are the two big problems I'm not sure how to solve. Maybe if I can find a very small clean burning pellet all my problems would be rectified, but , like you, I'm not sure which pellets are best....
« Last Edit: October 28, 2013, 07:38:19 AM by norcoscia »


 

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