Author Topic: 2nd time pies with my DIY WFO  (Read 6033 times)

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Offline jon7821

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2nd time pies with my DIY WFO
« on: July 08, 2012, 09:42:41 AM »
Today I am going for my 2nd bake on my converted WFO.  I have a char-griller smokin pro charcoal grill that I converted by making a removable insert brick pizza deck.  Pretty simple, just an angle iron frame with some wire mesh and cross braces to support the deck, and a small basket on the side to hold the fire.  I also put an enitre chimney of charcoal underneath the deck to keep the bricks hot.  On my first run ( my neighbor coached me on that one, tonight I am solo for first time) the deck held pretty steady at 600 to 650 and the dome went well over eight hundred.  

On that first run, pies cooked in about 3:30 to 4:00.  Cooked really(surprisingly) even, and tasted great.  Here's the rundown for tonight:

Dough
- 50/50 caputo and KABF
- 63% hydration
- .5% ADY
- .5% salt
- 48 hour cold ferment

Sauce
Classico crushed, fresh pack tomatoes, garlic powder, Italian seasoning

Pies
BBQ chicken (BBQ sauce, grilled chicken, bacon, red onion, cheddar)
Margherita
Classic pepperoni
Sausage, green pepper and ricotta

Below are some pics of the dough and my oven creation.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2012, 10:23:42 AM by jon7821 »
Tryin' to get my baking skills on par with my consumption skills.


Offline Jet_deck

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Re: 2nd time pies with my DIY WFO
« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2012, 11:01:36 AM »
If the pizza was grand as the smile, then you've got a winner. :chef: :pizza:
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Offline Ev

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Re: 2nd time pies with my DIY WFO
« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2012, 11:22:20 AM »
I see an oven, but no pizza. ???

Offline jon7821

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Re: 2nd time pies with my DIY WFO
« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2012, 01:21:45 PM »
Sorry, pies are coming later today.  Round sixpm mountain time.
Tryin' to get my baking skills on par with my consumption skills.

Offline Ev

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Re: 2nd time pies with my DIY WFO
« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2012, 03:39:32 PM »
Oh ok. So, around 8 pm est then? :-D

Sorry. I didn't mean to seem pushy. ;)

Offline jon7821

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Re: 2nd time pies with my DIY WFO
« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2012, 05:20:40 PM »
No Worrries Ev.  I got a bit excited today and got ahead of myself and posted in stages.  I am prepping now, should have pics-o-pies before long....
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Offline jon7821

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Re: 2nd time pies with my DIY WFO
« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2012, 10:45:25 PM »
Here are the pics of our four pies tonight.  Had a rough launch on the first pie, but that's okay.  My daughters said it tasted "just fine daddy". Got the launch straightened out from then.  all in all very good results, but now we are on to some modifications of the oven to try an get a better char on the crust and a slightly higher initial bake temp to get better oven spring.  Any feedback would be much appreciated.
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Offline jon7821

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Re: 2nd time pies with my DIY WFO
« Reply #7 on: July 08, 2012, 10:48:28 PM »
Here are the last of our pics.  A few of the leoparding, etc. 8).  I would welcome any thoughts on a how to match the dough to the cook time, as i was about 6 minutes tonight (sort of cool and humid in denver tonight).  Thanks for the thoughts, looking forward to the next bake! :chef:
« Last Edit: July 08, 2012, 10:50:55 PM by jon7821 »
Tryin' to get my baking skills on par with my consumption skills.

Offline Ev

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Re: 2nd time pies with my DIY WFO
« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2012, 12:02:48 AM »
Your pizzas look pretty tasty to me! I don't really have any suggestions for you. Perhaps someone with pizza grilling expertise will chime in.
 Are you using gas under the bricks?


parallei

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Re: 2nd time pies with my DIY WFO
« Reply #9 on: July 09, 2012, 12:13:29 AM »
Good to see another Denver pizza maker here.  Welcome.  Tasty looking pies, and it looks like you have an appreciative audience!


Offline jon7821

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Re: 2nd time pies with my DIY WFO
« Reply #10 on: July 09, 2012, 08:18:53 AM »
Ev, I am using about a pound and a half of charcoal under the bricks.  Seems to be working pretty well.
Tryin' to get my baking skills on par with my consumption skills.

scott123

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Re: 2nd time pies with my DIY WFO
« Reply #11 on: July 10, 2012, 09:47:43 AM »
Jon, for this particular oven setup, I don't think you're ever going to hit Neapolitan bake times. That being the case, I think you should embrace NY style wholeheartedly.  Start off by losing the Caputo and the fresh mozzarella and going with a brick mozzarella that you grate yourself. 650 isn't bad for a hearth temp, but you might want to push it a little higher, if possible.

One of the big downsides to firebrick is that it sucks up a load of heat and takes a very long time to pre-heat. The more mass you have, the worse it gets.  For a system with this much energy going into it, you shouldn't be using full size firebricks, but firebrick splits.  Even splits will most likely take at least 90 minutes to pre-heat.  Charcoal underneath helps, but you have to remember that, with full size bricks, the heat from the charcoal underneath is traveling a really long way, over a long period of time, due to the insulating properites/lack of conductivity of the firebrick.

Getting good undercrust browning in the right amount of time (4ish minutes) is the easy part.  To achieve good top browning, you either need a lot hotter ceiling (1000ish), a lower ceiling and/or a ceiling with more thermal mass. Does the kind of grill have the capability to pump vast quantities of heat into the dome during the bake?

Do you keep the top closed during the bake?  You might be able to aid top browning a tiny bit by covering the lid with some heat proof insulation, but, generally speaking, thin steel domes of that height are a recipe for failure.  A stone ceiling would go a long way in aiding top browning, but the ceiling has to be bigger than the hearth so that it collects the heat coming up from below. Without a second stone, you're going to need a massive amount of heat coming from the side.  Does this grill have any kind of forced air option?

Btw, raw flour is very bitter.  Generally speaking, you should use one peel for launching and one for retrieving, but, if you only have one peel, clean it carefully after launching so you don't get flour on the finished pie.

Offline jon7821

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Re: 2nd time pies with my DIY WFO
« Reply #12 on: July 10, 2012, 10:11:04 AM »
Scott,

Thank you very much for your thoughts.  I am definitely thinking along your same lines.  My hearth is currently made of the splits, so it's about as thin as it can get for now.  My next thoughts are to ditch my little fire basket section, fill that with Fire bricks, then make a LOT bigger fire in teh center of the hearth, and then push it to the side for baking.  I am also "engineering" a way to drop the dome about 40%.  Not 100% sure how to do so right now, but necessity is the mother of invention.

I also agree that while I certainly hopeful to get neopalitan style, i just don't think my heats are going to quite get there.  No worries, pizza is great in all it's different forms, right?! :D

Again, I really appreciate your feedback.  Look for me posting again, maybe over on the NY Style thread!
Tryin' to get my baking skills on par with my consumption skills.

Offline jon7821

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Re: 2nd time pies with my DIY WFO
« Reply #13 on: July 10, 2012, 10:57:03 AM »
Scott,

I forgot to mention, there's no forced air mechanism on my unit.  Just normal drafting.  I am going to figure out how to get the dome lowered this week and give this another try on Sunday.
Tryin' to get my baking skills on par with my consumption skills.

Offline pizzaneer

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Re: 2nd time pies with my DIY WFO
« Reply #14 on: July 10, 2012, 11:19:53 AM »
Scott,

I forgot to mention, there's no forced air mechanism on my unit.  Just normal drafting.  I am going to figure out how to get the dome lowered this week and give this another try on Sunday.

Hi Jon-  nice pics, happy family!
   If you are looking for ideas:  
  1st, split your FB hearth, leaving 2 open areas on the sides.  Use a easily movable blocking brick or metal box to close off the right side when you heat up, so that the firebox heat can travel the length of your bottom hearth underside until it is heated to temp.   When the hearth is heated up, move the block to the other end.  
   Mount some angle-iron brackets in the lid that can hold a large rectangular stone about 2-3" above the level of your hearth. Use wingnuts on top of the stone so it will stay in place when you lift the lid.  Position it so that it is all the way to the right over your heat inlet / fire area.  Leave a gap where the chimney is, on the left side. This will create a direct path from the firebox to the chimney, right through the cooking area.  
  Depending on how hot a fire is in the firebox, you could possibly hit NP temps.

Good luck!
Brian
« Last Edit: July 10, 2012, 11:22:20 AM by pizzaneer »
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Offline jon7821

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Re: 2nd time pies with my DIY WFO
« Reply #15 on: July 10, 2012, 11:34:11 AM »
Brian,

Awesome idea.  That is just the kind of mod I was thinking of.  Any good ideas on where to get a good stone that would take the heat?
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scott123

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Re: 2nd time pies with my DIY WFO
« Reply #16 on: July 10, 2012, 11:43:22 AM »
Firebrick would take the heat, but it would also take ALL the heat. If you're willing to wait a few hours for the oven to pre-heat and have access to plenty of fuel, firebrick (supported by angle iron) would work.  Steel would probably work well, as long as it was thick enough- maybe 1/4". Cordierite would also do the trick.

If you could lower the ceiling to within 3" of the hearth and heat it to 900, with a hearth temp of 800, you can do Neapolitan.  Without forced air, though, I don't think you'll be able to do either, though.

Still, a lower ceiling with some thermal mass will go a long way for your NY bakes.


Offline pizzaneer

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Re: 2nd time pies with my DIY WFO
« Reply #17 on: July 10, 2012, 11:52:05 AM »
Jon,
Try this place to source cordierite stones.  http://www.axner.com/cordierite-kiln-shelves.aspx

As far as forced-air, if you have a little bit of electrical skill, you can easily add on a rheostat-controlled electric leaf blower to your firebox.  Mount it at a distance using a stainless duct so it doesn't melt  ;D
I think I've seen kits for sale as well.
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scott123

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Re: 2nd time pies with my DIY WFO
« Reply #18 on: July 10, 2012, 11:54:35 AM »
An electric leaf blower, Brian? I was thinking about something along the lines of a hair dryer or, for a little more umph, an airbed pump.

Offline pizzaneer

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Re: 2nd time pies with my DIY WFO
« Reply #19 on: July 10, 2012, 11:58:58 AM »
Overkill FTW!!!!!

LOL!

But it would be controllable using the rheostat...  And if you wanted to smelt some metal or fire some pottery, you could crank that puppy up!  :-D

ok, ok... doesn't have to be that strong (mumbles)
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Offline jon7821

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Re: 2nd time pies with my DIY WFO
« Reply #20 on: July 10, 2012, 12:02:26 PM »
Guys, thanks so much for all the suggestions.  The good news is that i have access to a nearly endless supply of kiln dried hardwoods.  I work for a company that makes high-end wood doors, so we throw away about 2 cubic yards of hardwood cut ends, usually about 6"L x 8" w at 1" thick every day. 
Tryin' to get my baking skills on par with my consumption skills.

Offline pizzaneer

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Re: 2nd time pies with my DIY WFO
« Reply #21 on: July 10, 2012, 12:14:44 PM »
Sweet! Free fire!!

 You can thank us by becoming amazing with your awesome modded grill.   Your little girls will grow up thinking their Daddy's the smartest man on the planet.

Looking forward to following your build progress and your further pizzas!
 
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Offline Jet_deck

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Re: 2nd time pies with my DIY WFO
« Reply #22 on: July 10, 2012, 12:37:09 PM »
A computer fan is all you really need. 3 CFM is plenty for a fire this size
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Offline jon7821

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Re: 2nd time pies with my DIY WFO
« Reply #23 on: July 11, 2012, 10:43:57 AM »
Sooo, last night i got out my arsenal of cutting tools, and i cut down a sheet of 1/4" plate steel I had lying around.  Suffice it to say, cutting 1/4" plate without a torch or plasma is NO FUN.  but, got it done, and took the lid off my grill to mount it and then....  Realized that the 14 gauge stamped steel lid is really not designed to support the weight of a 25 pound lump of steel.  I didn't feel like completely frankensteining the lid to make the steel fit and have appropriate support, as i still want to be able to de-pizza this thing and use it to smoke ribs and such (i know, we can talk about flavor contamination in another post).

Bottom line, i am somewhat back to the drawing board on a mechanism to get the heat down to the surface of the pie.  One thing i was contemplating is reversing the orientation of my deck, so that the wire basket section is over on the left side of the grill, then filling about 50% of the basket with a full fire brick split.  Leave about two 4x4" squares of the basket open for air flow.  Then, build the fire on the right hand side, completely on top of the fire bricks.  Lastly, take the chimmney and replace it with a longer section of 3" OD automotive exhaust pipe, and lower the bottom of the chimmney down to 2-3 inches from the hearth.  I have done that before with dryer vent for smoking, and it forces the entire volumn of the lid (dome) to fill with smoke before it will escape from the chimmney.  Maybe the same concept would work with the heat from the fire, thus "filling" the dome more completely with heat, rather than just having it rush right out the top thru the stack.

Craziness, or does it have any merit?
Tryin' to get my baking skills on par with my consumption skills.

Offline pizzaneer

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Re: 2nd time pies with my DIY WFO
« Reply #24 on: July 11, 2012, 11:13:33 AM »
"Mommy, why is Daddy swearing at the grill?"   
"Never mind, honey.  He's being a man."

That must have been a frustrating moment!   All that work to cut a big piece of steel!

I'm still going to promote my idea as submitted earlier.  I don't think a cordierite slab will weigh as much as a steel slab. (I could be wrong about that. If so, Scott will correct me.)   

     Regardless, the setup you describe will simply repeat the setup that you already have, and asked for help improving.
 
The single most important factor that you are going to continue to lack if you can't mount a thermal mass in your lid is top heat for the pizza.  If that is the case, then it's time to consider other methods to achieve that goal.

You could use a system of air directors and a strong forced-air supply.  This technique is crucial to the success of the LBE's design.  For that, the setup I proposed earlier still stands, with one change.  The slab on top would be replaced with a lighter-weight steel sheet, with bolted-on bent metal to force the hot air down to the pizza. (Make it removable so you can use the grill for it's normal items.) You still need the movable block to change the route of the hot air from the firebox.
 
I'd rather eat one good meal a day than 3 squares of garbage.