Author Topic: U-shape coals vs left (or right) coals when cooking? Help me understand, please  (Read 2098 times)

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Offline RobynB

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I've seen some people build the fire in the middle of the oven, then push the coals around the perimeter and cook inside that.  I've seen some people put more initial heat on one side of the oven (usually the right) and then push the coals to the other (usually left) side and cook on the cleared side.  I know that the left vs right thing is for left vs right-handed people, so I don't need that explained.  I need help understanding the two different approaches and what they mean?   It seemed to my beginner brain that the first approach "made more sense" to me, so that's what I've been doing - fire all around the middle of oven, then push coals to the perimeter and cook within a half-circle of coals in the center of the oven.  It's not working as well as I hoped.  My dome is very low:  10" tallest height in center of 38" deck.  I thought this would mean tons of heat radiating down from dome so no need to ever dome a pizza.  I'm having the opposite happen in reality:  burning or almost burning the bottom and having to dome the top, sometimes a fair amount.  Also, I'm noticing crust puffing nicely close to the coals, but much less so on far side (near the door).  Which makes sense, but isn't the goal, so I need advice.

I'm fine with starting the fire and the oven is heating up well and pretty evenly the way I'm currently doing it.  I'm already cooking "okay" and getting decent pizzas already on my second real try, but I know I can improve a lot of things and figure it's never too soon to start improving.  Can I get some tips, and theories, on heat management for the cooking? 

Thanks, all!!


Offline flyboy4ual

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Robyn,

I am not an expert, but I think having the coals to one side creates a better airflow through the oven.  Also it would make it easier to add logs if the fire was all in one place. 

Scott D.

Offline wheelman

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robyn,

i always build the fire in the middle, spread it out over a couple of hours to evenly heat the floor, and then rake it to one side.  i often take some of the coals out at this point so the coals don't reach more than maybe a third of the way across the floor.  after that i keep a live fire when cooking.  scott is right about the convective flow. that is an important part of the deal and it seems that it might not work with coals on both sides.  my oven is 100cm dia so i have room to move the pies around to control the cook speed.  i often cook 2 at a time but not more.  you'll get used to your oven with time.  the curve is steep at the beginning and you already have a great start!
bill 

Offline TXCraig1

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Robyn,

I personally like the coals down the left side (I'm right handed - I hope this is the correct side  :-D). I do this for three reasons:

1) I have more control. I can move the pizza all around and spin it as needed with the intense heat coming from only one direction. I think this would be more difficult with heat coming from more than one side.
2) As others have noted, I think fire management would be more difficult if you had to feed it in multiple places.
3) I dream of cooking multiple pizzas at one time...

I don't have a ton of experience to speak from. I think Bill/SFNM uses a U-shape fire sometimes. He could probably give some good advice and perspective.

CL
Pizza is not bread.

Offline shuboyje

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With a dome that low I'm gonna guess you cooking fire is too small.  It seems to be common for new brick oven owners to underestimate the size of their cooking fire.  I'd bank the coals to one side.  Add a couple fresh sticks about the size of your wrist and wait till they ignite and your flame is going about 2/3 across the dome. 
-Jeff

Offline RobynB

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Jeff - I think you are probably right.  I was noticing last night that the coals kept being less hot than I expected, and I added a few sticks and tried to get it to flame up before the 3rd pizza and it just sat there, and it was definitely too cold for that pizza.  Thanks for the advice!  

Bill, Scott and Craig:  thanks for the tips!!  Clearly I need to try the left-hand fire instead of the perimeter coals, and I will work on more live fire in addition to coals.  

Do any of you rake the coals across the cooking part of the floor in between pizzas, or do you just rely on the convection heat to keep the floor hot?  I'm wondering if that's part of the bottom-burning issue - I've been raking the coals back over the floor in between each pizza.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2011, 12:37:12 PM by RobynB »

Offline TXCraig1

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Do any of you rake the coals across the cooking part of the floor in between pizzas, or do you just rely on the convection heat to keep the floor hot?  I'm wondering if that's part of the bottom-burning issue - I've been raking the coals back over the floor in between each pizza.

I do not.

CL
Pizza is not bread.

Offline flyboy4ual

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I do notice that I get a better bake with a blazing fire across the dome and almost or touching the other side.  Good luck!

Scott D.


Offline wheelman

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"Do any of you rake the coals across the cooking part of the floor in between pizzas, or do you just rely on the convection heat to keep the floor hot?  I'm wondering if that's part of the bottom-burning issue - I've been raking the coals back over the floor in between each pizza."

only if i'm baking for a long time and the floor temp drops too much.  are you using an infrared gun to monitor your floor temp?  I've been able to determine the floor temp that correlates to a balanced bake where top and bottom are both ready at the same time. for my oven it's in a range about 800-850.  i manage the oven to keep it at this temp or make other adjustments if it's different.  with your low ceiling height, i would guess your balance temp may be even higher than that.
bill

Offline TXCraig1

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I do notice that I get a better bake with a blazing fire across the dome and almost or touching the other side.  Good luck!

Scott D.


I agree.
Pizza is not bread.


Offline RobynB

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Thanks so much, all!  This is the advice I need.  Bill, I am using an IR thermometer, but I don't know yet my goal temps.  I'm still trying to figure out where I should be, temp-wise.  I definitely haven't been using enough flame from the sound of it, I've mostly been cooking with a big red coal bed but minimal/no live flame.  Clearly not hot enough! 

Scott, what size is your oven?  I think it's 100 cm?  If so, it's just an inch bigger than mine, but higher dome.  So you think I should try a blazing fire across the dome almost to the far side? 

Thanks again, everyone!!

Offline flyboy4ual

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Robyn,

I have a 40 inch Forno Bravo Premio2g 100.  I have not measured the dome height yet.  Yes I think you should try to get the fire extra hot and have fire flying across the dome.  I have found on 2 of my bakes where i was rushed and did not let the fire, floor and overall oven get to the right temps, that the pizza's did not cook like they do otherwise.  The best pizza's I made and posted from my second bake, were cooked on a 850 floor with fire over top.  They were done in less than a minute.  You have to watch them constantly.

Scott D.

Offline JConk007

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I agree with scott 850 is the # no more! I had leftover and used my earthstone tonight I will post in neapolitan sect. However if your bottom is burning the hearth is too hot (no kidding right? ) but during my heat up I do not go for the inferno now.  I go slower and keep less wood in the pile when everything is around 650-700 I kick it in with about 3-4 wrist size. Constantly checking the hearth temp 775-850 works great for me with flames acrross the entire dome 1 small log so i dont overheat everything. Yes I move the coals around to the other side after hearth hits 700 or less. constant pies in and out suck the heat from the stones a quick switch and its back to 850 magic again.
still learning myself after 6 + years so yes, you will get it.
john
I Love to Flirt with Fire! www.flirtingwithfirepizza.com

Offline Tman1

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In regards to raking the coals in between, I don't do that. Maybe after 15 or 20, but I'm guessing with better fire management this wouldn't necessary. I like 800* and constant flames.  look for 90-120 second bake as I don't like the soggy crust in the middle.

Offline flyboy4ual

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Robyn,

I found this photo I took.  You could see the fire across the dome!  This cooking session turned out great!

Scott D.

Offline Bill/SFNM

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I push them to the side unless I have miscalculated and the oven is under-fired when it is time to bake. Then I go with the U-shape.

Offline sarduyjorge

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Let me give my 2 cents...wouldn't the lack of kept heat in the oven also has to do with if the floor was insulated?
Also wouldn't it be more efficient to place a pan 1x2x1/8] and place the coal or wood in it; that way you can shift it easier to the other side of the oven quickly?


 

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