Author Topic: Modifying Oven to Get Higher Temps  (Read 10132 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Grog

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 47
  • I Love Pizza!
Modifying Oven to Get Higher Temps
« on: November 21, 2007, 10:21:34 PM »
After a year of experimenting with pizza, I've hit a wall -- my oven.  I recently moved into a condo with a cheap, stainless steel Whirlpool electric range.  It's one of those crappy appliances that got slapped with a stainless steel face so that the builder could advertise a gourmet kitchen.  Unfortunately, until I get a house and can build a brick Neapolitan pizza oven, I'm stuck with the Whirlpool.  The controls max out at 500 degrees.  However, since I don't trust the "temperature probes" in ovens, I tested it with a stand-alone oven thermometer.  It turns out that my oven tops out at 450 degrees at the 500 degree setting, regardless of whether I'm using the bake or broil setting.

(The manual says that the temperature probe is accurate, and thermometers shouldn't be used because opening the oven door may cause the oven to cycle erratically.  Yeah, right.) 

So now I'm thinking about modifying my oven to get it hotter.  I would be relatively satisfied to get to 650-700 degrees.  My starter will be ready in another week, so I'm exploring alternatives.  I don't see why an oven mod can't be done in relative safely, as the oven has a self-cleaning cycle that lasts 2.5 to 3.5 hrs.  If the oven can withstand 900+ degrees for this amount of time, why not 700 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour?

The two approaches I have read about are (i) snipping off or sabotaging the latch that keeps the door closed during the cleaning cycle, and (ii) placing insulation on the temperature probe so that the oven doesn't cut off the heating elements.  I have read a little bit about this on the forum, but not much involving long-term performance.  So, for those of you that have done this, how has it worked out over time? Any problems with glass or oven lights?  Anyone burn down their house?


Offline abatardi

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 432
  • Age: 53
  • Location: Santa Clara, CA
  • It's MOOPS!
Re: Modifying Oven to Get Higher Temps
« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2007, 02:26:59 AM »
I ruined something on the one in my last apartment... the oven light no longer worked.  replaced the light bulb and still nothing, not sure what happened.
Make me a bicycle CLOWN!

Offline Grog

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 47
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: Modifying Oven to Get Higher Temps
« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2007, 11:32:00 AM »
What did you do to modify your oven?  Was it something that occurred while making a pizza during a cleaning cycle?

Offline Arthur

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 253
  • When Brooklyn Was the World
Re: Modifying Oven to Get Higher Temps
« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2007, 12:06:40 PM »
You should first replace your heating elements.  That's very easy to do and will probably bring your oven temp up to 500 degrees and higher (probably up to 550) without doing any modifications.  You can find your heating elements for sale on line.

Offline abatardi

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 432
  • Age: 53
  • Location: Santa Clara, CA
  • It's MOOPS!
Re: Modifying Oven to Get Higher Temps
« Reply #4 on: November 22, 2007, 01:21:47 PM »
yeah i filed down the latch for the clean cycle.  as it was an apartment, i didn't want to just clip it off... i filed it just enough so that it just latched but if you pulled a bit to the left and then out it would release.
Make me a bicycle CLOWN!

Offline Grog

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 47
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: Modifying Oven to Get Higher Temps
« Reply #5 on: November 22, 2007, 05:20:48 PM »
Arthur - I think that if I replace the heating elements, the miscalibrated "temperature probe" will still turn off the juice when it senses 500 degrees.  BTW, the temperature probe sabotages my cooking at low temperatures too.  When I tried Heston Blumenthal's recipe for roast chicken, I used the lowest setting of 170 degrees.  After 45 minutes, my oven thermometer reported 200 degrees.  I had to prop the oven door open to maintain the proper temperature.

The latch filing idea sounds interesting -- I'll rummage around my tools and see if I can find a file.  I'm also thinking about putting insulation over the temperature probe. 

Man, I sure wish my condo association hadn't banned outdoor grills.  That 2stone pizza oven looks pretty sweet.
« Last Edit: November 23, 2007, 01:36:56 AM by Grog »

Offline JerryMac

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 279
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: Modifying Oven to Get Higher Temps
« Reply #6 on: November 24, 2007, 10:56:28 PM »
Grog,

I think that if I were you I would VERY SERIOUSLY reconsider the idea of "Modifying" your oven seeing
as how you live in an apartment and God forbid that anything went wrong you could not only be held
responsible for the loss of your own appartment but any others that might be involved in the "Mishap" >:D

Not quite like you burning down your "Own House on Your Own Lot"  >:D

Se La Vie  >:(
Jerry













 

Offline abatardi

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 432
  • Age: 53
  • Location: Santa Clara, CA
  • It's MOOPS!
Re: Modifying Oven to Get Higher Temps
« Reply #7 on: November 25, 2007, 01:24:53 AM »
I never liked that theory... these ovens have clean cycles and were designed to be run at temperatures of ~800 for hours (my last one had a 4 hour clean cycle).  They wouldn't be UL certified and sold to the public if they could burn the place down by trying to clean the oven.  The exterior does get hot but nothing more than 150-180 or so, nothing that is going to spontaneously ignite surrounding cabinetry or even paper. 

Be safe, don't be stupid, practice common sense and keep a fire extinguisher nearby and you will be fine.  It's not like the oven shoots out flames when you open the door on the clean cycle..

- aba
Make me a bicycle CLOWN!

Offline MTPIZZA

  • Supporting Member
  • *
  • Posts: 273
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: Modifying Oven to Get Higher Temps
« Reply #8 on: November 25, 2007, 10:06:29 AM »
Get out your oven instruction booklet if you still have it. I read mine the other day and apparantly I can recalibrate it for high temps. I have a Whirlpool oven where you can change the temp up to 30 degrees higher so I can get up to 530 degrees. Doesn't sound like much but it sure kicks the heat now. So check your operating manuals and you might find that you can adjust it.

Offline JerryMac

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 279
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: Modifying Oven to Get Higher Temps
« Reply #9 on: November 27, 2007, 01:17:21 AM »
abatardi,

Keep talking to yourself  :-X

Maybe You will convince "You"

Mangia Bene,  :chef:
Jerry



Offline abatardi

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 432
  • Age: 53
  • Location: Santa Clara, CA
  • It's MOOPS!
Re: Modifying Oven to Get Higher Temps
« Reply #10 on: November 27, 2007, 03:40:37 AM »
abatardi,

Keep talking to yourself  :-X

Maybe You will convince "You"

Mangia Bene,  :chef:
Jerry

haha, just trying to share an actual experienced opinion on the matter rather than hearsay....   ::)

- aba

Make me a bicycle CLOWN!

Offline Grog

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 47
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: Modifying Oven to Get Higher Temps
« Reply #11 on: November 27, 2007, 03:56:59 PM »
JerryMac - Thanks for your warning.  It's pretty clear that you believe that modifying an oven is a dangerous thing to do. 

Personally, I'm not averse to taking calculated risks, like rock climbing, downhill skiing without a helmet, or filing the safety ridges off my bicycle fork so that the wheel drops off when I undo the quick release.  I would never encourage anyone to take similar risks if they were not comfortable doing so.  Same with modifying your oven.  If you are not comfortable with the risks and potential liabilities associated with this type of activity, please don't do it. 

MTPizza - I pulled out the manual and figured out how to recalibrate the temperature by an extra 30 degrees.  When I tested it with my oven thermometer, the temperature went up about 15 degrees. So now I'm at 465 at the highest setting, without modification.  I have a stubborn temperature probe in my oven. 

Interestingly, the manual also says that when the cleaning cycle is on, the cooktop won't function.  That's good to know. 

I'll probably snip the oven door latch tomorrow to play around with the cleaning cycle.  I have to get some dough ready first...




« Last Edit: November 27, 2007, 08:04:38 PM by Grog »

Offline Grog

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 47
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: Modifying Oven to Get Higher Temps
« Reply #12 on: November 28, 2007, 12:13:17 AM »
Huh.  Well, I didn't expect this to happen.  I tested the cleaning cycle to see what kind of temperatures I'd get in my Whirlpool stainless steel piece-of-crap oven.  Turns out it only gets to 675F during the cleaning cycle, after an hour and half.   So even if I do snip off the latch, I'm still not going to get Neapolitan temperatures.   :o


Offline abatardi

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 432
  • Age: 53
  • Location: Santa Clara, CA
  • It's MOOPS!
Re: Modifying Oven to Get Higher Temps
« Reply #13 on: November 28, 2007, 03:16:07 AM »
That sucks.. my last one would get to 850 in 90 mins.  If you let it go longer does it get any better?

- aba
Make me a bicycle CLOWN!

Offline scott r

  • Supporting Member
  • *
  • Posts: 3061
  • Age: 43
  • Location: boston
  • I Love Pizzafreaks!
Re: Modifying Oven to Get Higher Temps
« Reply #14 on: November 28, 2007, 03:17:26 AM »
Huh.  Well, I didn't expect this to happen.  I tested the cleaning cycle to see what kind of temperatures I'd get in my Whirlpool stainless steel piece-of-crap oven.  Turns out it only gets to 675F during the cleaning cycle, after an hour and half.   So even if I do snip off the latch, I'm still not going to get Neapolitan temperatures.   :o



Yes, but you will be very happy with 675. With those temps you should be able to do a 3.5-4.5 minute pizza.  Sometimes I think I prefer that temp which creates a classic New Haven or New York coal oven style.  I also think that Pizzeria Bianco is close to that temp as well, maybe just slighty more.  I think the biggest change in your crust will happen in that jump from 550 to 650.  From 700 to about 800 the changes aren't as noticeable. You also have the added benefit of not really pushing your oven much since it is only giving you an extra 125 degrees.

Offline Grog

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 47
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: Modifying Oven to Get Higher Temps
« Reply #15 on: November 28, 2007, 10:47:11 PM »
Well maybe I'll play around with 675F.  It reached that temperature after 90 minutes, at which point the oven started spewing strange smells. 

Until two months ago, I lived in Brazil, where wood burning ovens were fairly common.  I used to stoke my brother-in-law's oven with eucalyptus until it reached 950F, which produced soft-but-crusty 90 second pizzas with nice char.  Now that I've seen what those temperatures can do, 675F in a lousy oven with a pizza stone is just depressing!   :'(


Offline mmarston

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 534
  • Location: Altamont, NY (Albany)
  • I can stop eating Pizza any time I want!
Re: Modifying Oven to Get Higher Temps
« Reply #16 on: November 29, 2007, 08:26:10 AM »
Maybe you could get a waiver for the 2stone oven from the condo association. It doesn't smoke like a grill unless you let the pizza burn. Bribe them with pizza!

I love my 2stone and for those of you that think baking on the clean cycle is crazy try a 2stone oven in your garage!
Nobody cares if you can't dance well.  Just get up and dance.  Dave Barry

Offline Grog

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 47
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: Modifying Oven to Get Higher Temps
« Reply #17 on: November 29, 2007, 09:19:43 PM »
I'd love to play around with a 2Stone oven.  The time it takes to reach Neapolitan temps is very impressive! 

Offline abatardi

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 432
  • Age: 53
  • Location: Santa Clara, CA
  • It's MOOPS!
Re: Modifying Oven to Get Higher Temps
« Reply #18 on: December 01, 2007, 04:00:02 AM »
Are you sure they banned outdoor grills completely?  I have seen this several times before and usually the letter of the 'law' actually says you just aren't allowed to leave it outside when not in use (which sometimes means putting it in a common storage area).  If that is the case maybe you could get one of the 2stones for the bayou classic propane burner and just store it in a closet or something when you're not using (not sure how much space you have)... come on, bend those rules a bit..  >:D

- aba
Make me a bicycle CLOWN!

Offline Grog

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 47
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: Modifying Oven to Get Higher Temps
« Reply #19 on: December 03, 2007, 11:41:25 PM »
Today I fooled my oven!  I figured that if the temperature probe thought that the oven was cold, it would send juice to the heating elements.  So to decrease the temperature of the temperature probe, I took a wet piece of cloth, wrapped it around a wooden spoon handle (slightly larger in diameter than the temperature probe) and put it in the freezer while preheating the oven.  When the oven reached the 450F maximum, I took the foil-wrapped frozen cloth and slipped it onto the temperature probe.  Twenty minutes later, the oven reached almost 600F.  I slipped a pizza onto the stone and four minutes later, got a fairly respectable pizza with a crunchy exterior and soft interior.  It was certainly not a Neapolitan pizza (no char, not soft, probably need another 200F), but it was much, much better than the cracker pizza I got after nine minutes at 450F. 

The first photo shows the temperature probe in the upper left hand corner of the oven.  The second photo shows the foil-wrapped cloth that I put onto the probe.  The third photo shows the pizza I made using the frozen cloth technique.
« Last Edit: December 03, 2007, 11:43:17 PM by Grog »


 

pizzapan