This last bake with the Ischia starter shifted my opinion to neutral between the CY and Ischia. The Ischia pies from last weekend were as tender and easy to digest as the CY pies. They also had that thin crispy crust that Craig has been describing on his pies. The color and leoparding was better. When I reheated the leftovers a few days later, the crust came alive as if they had just come out of the oven..just like the CY pies. I like the slightly tart flavor but I can tell kids and some folks prefer the sweeter and wheaty flavor of CY pies. I initially started with my own starter but it produced pies that were too sour and tough (at the beginning of this thread) when using a similar workflow. I thought I'd try buying an Ischia just for the heck of it and I'm glad I did. I didn't think that natural leaven can vary that much in performance. Maybe for large parties, I will stick with CY as it will give me a larger room for error. For personal enjoyment and my weekend bakes with a few friends, I'll use the Craig's workflow from now on.
I'm quite surprised that the pies looked a tiny bit like the pies coming out of an Acunto. However, managing the tiny oven to get it consistent was difficult when using standard size logs. I had to cut them in significantly smaller pies of varying size so I can "throttle" the heat. During the firing of the oven, after the logs have broken down into smaller pieces, I push them against the walls and let the floor even out and cool down a bit. By the time I launch the first pie the walls are in the mid to upper 900s and the floor is in the upper 800 to lower 900. While pies are cooking, I make sure that the flames are lapping across the dome. In the past, I accomplished that by constantly adding regular size firewood logs. That ended up heating up the floor too much in between pies. This weekend, I learned that I can achieve the same effect by just using smaller logs. I've been cutting the logs small but this weekend I tried cutting them smaller to roughly an inch and a half thick and 14 inches in length. The flames would lap across the dome but the wood is just enough to cook 2-3 pies and the floor didn't overheat.