Author Topic: Modding out my Pizza Bella: super results!  (Read 22187 times)

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Offline rxrfrx

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Modding out my Pizza Bella: super results!
« on: January 05, 2006, 08:28:35 AM »
Inspired by posts in the Pizza Bella thread (http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,274.0.html), I procured a unit of my own.  I got one on eBay for only $50 shipped.  It wasn't in an unsealed new box, but it didn't appear to ever have been used (the first time I plugged it in, it had that chemically "new oven" smell).

The thing made an OK pizza I guess, but I was pretty disappointed by its inability to get very hot, even on the highest temperature setting.  I certainly wasn't seeing the 900F+ temperatures that burned Steve's pizzas before they could cook.  After a couple days of using the thing, I figured out that I could cause the heating elements to remain on by leaning on the temperature knob during the entire cooking process.  This quickly became an unpleasant chore (what with the steam coming out of the thing).

It was obvious that the thermostat in my unit was faulty, so I opened the thing up (I now regret having not taken any pictures).  The thermostat is the flimsiest piece of junk... it's just a couple strips of metal set up so that when they get sufficiently hot, they expand and shut off the current.  The temperature control knob controls at which point this shutoff occurs.  Either the unit is connecting the two coils (stone and lid) directly to your 120V outlet, or the coils are totally shut off.  This wouldn't be a half-bad system if the temperature measurement happened some place useful, like at the top of the dome or inside the stone.  However, the temperature being measured is that of the steam escaping from the pizza, out the back of the unit.  Totally unreliable, poorly calibrated temperature measurement.

I decided to just remove the temperature control entirely and make it so when you plug the unit in, electricity is flowing through both coils.  Unplug the unit to turn it off.  (If I were a more handy guy, I probably would've had a good switch laying around, or a dimmer, or something like that).

The oven is now everything Steve promised... it takes precisely 11 minutes to go from cold to perfectly hot for pizza cooking.  Anything more will burn the pizza in a matter of seconds.  Once that first pizza is cooked (5-6 minutes) a 90-second recovery time is needed to get the thing back to temperature, and then another pizza can be loaded on.  Not bad compared to the hours it takes to get a big oven up to that temperature, eh?

I've cooked a variety of different dough recipes in the machine, and for a while was using Trader Joe's dough as a quick dinner staple.  I recently got back into dough making and did a Pizza Raquel (with KA bread flour) in the Pizza Bella last night.  Superb.  I'll try to post some pictures in this thread soon.

If you want great energy efficiency and time saving (compared to firing your oven for hours to cook a couple pizzas), and don't mind eating 12" pizzas, pick one of these up today (and don't forget to modify it!)


Offline Steve

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Re: Modding out my Pizza Bella: super results!
« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2006, 08:45:47 AM »
I bent the metal limiter tab on the thermostat so that I could keep turning it which means that the thermostat still works but I can "unscrew" it further and thus increase the temerature. If I ever want to return the unit to "factory" condition, I can simply bend the tab back in place.

My main beef with the Bella is that it's too small... max pizza diameter is only 12"

Steve
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Offline scott r

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Re: Modding out my Pizza Bella: super results!
« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2006, 11:26:05 AM »
now this is something I am going to have to try!

Offline gschwim

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Re: Modding out my Pizza Bella: super results!
« Reply #3 on: May 25, 2007, 10:12:43 AM »
I tried to do the modification, but I couldn't figure out how to get to the thermostat.  I removed two screws from the back of the top cover, a big screw in the middle of the inside of the top cover and one screw on the lower left of the inside cover, but the silver liner inside would not separate from the enameled, white outer lid.  How do I get the unit open?

Thanks.

Gene

Offline pizzoid

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Re: Modding out my Pizza Bella: super results!
« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2007, 01:05:06 PM »
All the pictures I've seen of these things show a non-stick surface. If that's really the case you do NOT want to heat that stuff to >700F and cook food on it!

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Offline gschwim

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Re: Modding out my Pizza Bella: super results!
« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2007, 01:15:19 PM »
I have the original, discontinued model:

http://cgi.ebay.com/Deni-Pizza-Bella-Oven-12-Pan-2100-NEW_W0QQitemZ130115532433QQcmdZViewItem

It has a "stone" surface that duplicates the surface of a brick, wood-burning oven.  As you can see by the preceding posts on this thread, others have done the modification successfully.

Unfortunately, as he said in his initial post, rxrfrx did not post photos of what he did, nor did Steve, who also successfully made the modification.

This is a relatively old thread, but I'm hoping that either rxrfrx or Steve (or anyone else, perhaps inspired by rxrfrx and Steve) will see my post and provide detailed instructions for accessing the thermostat and making the modification.

Gene

Offline jasonmolinari

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Re: Modding out my Pizza Bella: super results!
« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2007, 02:11:47 PM »
I just ordered one of the Deni 2100 pizza bella ovens. Looking forward to getting it and experimenting.
I have an external temperature controller which i can use to set any temp. between 32-999 deg. F. I may try using this to control the oven at an exact temperature taken in the baking cavity, rahter than the built in thermostat.

I'll keep the board updated with the experiment progress.

Offline toddster63

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Re: Modding out my Pizza Bella: super results!
« Reply #7 on: August 30, 2007, 11:58:38 PM »
Hey Jason, I'm awaiting delivery of my new Deni 2100 as well... How do you plan on hooking up your external temperature controller, and over-riding the units built in thermostat? Also, what sort of unit is your external temperature controller?

Offline jasonmolinari

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Re: Modding out my Pizza Bella: super results!
« Reply #8 on: August 31, 2007, 06:58:21 AM »
Todd, i'm not sure yet, i'll have to disable the internal thermostat, so it stays at a constant ON.

This is the controller i use:
http://www.dwyer-inst.com/HTDOCS/temperature/SeriesTCSPrice.CFM


where did you order your oven from? I still haven't gotten shipping confirmation, and i'm hoping they don't email me telling me it is out of stock!

Offline toddster63

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Re: Modding out my Pizza Bella: super results!
« Reply #9 on: August 31, 2007, 11:16:17 AM »
I got my Deni, "only used twice, almost new in box", on an eBay auction from some gentleman in South Carolina for $2.36, plus $15 shipping, so my total investment in this lil' oven is only slightly over $17...  I know you can still find the 2100 units brand new for reasonable rates as you have done, and if I do indeed like the Deni, I plan on trying to buy another brand new one. But for the initial trail I like the fact the investment is only costing me the price of one large take-out pie...! FedEx is suppose to deliever it this Tuesday, following Labor Day weekend...

I think the design of the 2100 is a sound idea, and since a few members here have raved over these, I have high hopes; but like you, Jason, I see modifying the unit and tinkering around with it as almost prerequisite. The temp controller is a great idea, thanks for the link; that's the sort I figured you meant. I look forward to hearing about your results with this contoller. How exactly does a type J/K input work..?

Do you have a infrared laser thermometer, ala Raytek? I just got one on eBay for $50 shipped, which I think will be an important tool/gauge of what the Deni is doing--how hot it gets. This infrared gun has already shown me that teeny tiny pizzas (8-9") cook so well in my tiny convection toaster oven because the tiny Fibrament stone gets to over 600F, whereas pizzas in my other larger oven cook so terribly because the larger Fibrament stone is only getting to 450F (and after 3 hours of preheating no less!)


Offline jasonmolinari

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Re: Modding out my Pizza Bella: super results!
« Reply #10 on: August 31, 2007, 12:40:03 PM »
I do have an infrared thermo. so I'll be using that too.
A J/K input is a type of thermocouple, a temperature measuring device. It is basically 2 wires welded together at one end (the temperature sensing end), and look at the other end. The controller has set screws you put the TC wired on.

I'm jealous you got the 2100 so cheap, I paid $60 for mine!! I looked on ebay a number of times but didn't see any 2100, only the new 2300 and they also went for about $50! Oh well...if it makes good pizza it'll be worth it.

Offline abatardi

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Re: Modding out my Pizza Bella: super results!
« Reply #11 on: August 31, 2007, 12:55:30 PM »
It looks like the news ones have like a non-stick surface on the bottom rather than a stone.  Can anyone confirm that?

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Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Modding out my Pizza Bella: super results!
« Reply #12 on: August 31, 2007, 01:29:09 PM »
It looks like the news ones have like a non-stick surface on the bottom rather than a stone.  Can anyone confirm that?

Aaron,

That's the Deni-2300 unit, which is the one I have.

Peter

Offline toddster63

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Re: Modding out my Pizza Bella: super results!
« Reply #13 on: August 31, 2007, 05:08:23 PM »
It looks like the news ones have like a non-stick surface on the bottom rather than a stone.  Can anyone confirm that?

- aba

As Pete has said, the new model with the non-stick rotating tray is the 2300, which replaced the unit with the stone, the 2100.

Nearly identical units to the Deni 2100 are also marketed in Australia as the Pizza Express, and in Europe by the Ferrari G3 company. I have read and seen many happy Italians post their delight with the Ferrari G3 units, and mind you they are using 00 flours, a lot of the time, no less... Check out the link below for an Italian post, with good photos, about a Ferrari G3 unit used to bake many different things, including pizza:

http://www.gennarino.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=2965

While the temperatures of the Deni 2100 units seems to vary (and some as mentioned in this thread have modified them to higher temperatures), the Ferrari G3 company clearly states that their units go up to 470C (878F)... :o

Offline abatardi

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Re: Modding out my Pizza Bella: super results!
« Reply #14 on: August 31, 2007, 08:10:31 PM »
toddster - nice.  well if anything else it could save on my electric bill.  heating this thing to 800 is probably a lot more environmentally friendly than heating a whole oven to 800.

- aba
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Offline MTPIZZA

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Re: Modding out my Pizza Bella: super results!
« Reply #15 on: September 01, 2007, 03:45:09 PM »
My Pizza Bella heats to over 750 degrees if I let it. I adjusted the thermostat as stated in another link on this site.. I love my unit.. it can get to that temp in 15minutes flat.. I usually only cook my pies at around 656 to 675 though.

Offline toddster63

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Re: Modding out my Pizza Bella: super results!
« Reply #16 on: September 01, 2007, 05:59:29 PM »
My Pizza Bella heats to over 750 degrees if I let it. I adjusted the thermostat as stated in another link on this site.. I love my unit.. it can get to that temp in 15minutes flat.. I usually only cook my pies at around 656 to 675 though.

MTPIZZA, how has the top crust been browning for you in your Bella? I've heard some say the unit can trap steam inside and hinder browning?

Also, how hard was it opening the unit up to get inside to the thermostat? One guy posted around here that even after removing the screws he could not get the silver lid liner seperated from the lid...?

Offline MTPIZZA

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Re: Modding out my Pizza Bella: super results!
« Reply #17 on: September 02, 2007, 08:37:54 AM »
I found that the steam produced at the beginning of when the pie goes in aids in a nice rise for the edge crust. I lift the lid open after about two minutes and all the steam escapes, then the browning begins to take hold and I have no problems regarding any steam issue.
As for adjusting the thermostat, there is a link on this site (maybe Peter can direct you) as to how we changed the thermostat. I do remember though it had nothing to do with messing with the inner silver lid liner. You get to the thermostat by removing the plastic dial. There is a plastic sort of sticky tape on the center top of the dial it has to be removed, then there is a phillips screw that is removed -- the dial pulls off...then as I recall there are some screws around the hinge edge. When you get to the thermostat all you do is bend the metal tab up with a pair of needle nose pliers-- (the tab stops the thermostat from going further than the factory preset)... after the tab is up and out of the way you can then twist the dial past the stop point...keeping the contacts for the unit together making the unit heat up and stay on... I just keep an eye on it and I have never had a melt down problem or anything. But my infared sensor has gone up to 800 degrees but thats way too hot for a great pie... I usually cook around 675... with fantastic results.. NO MORE HEATING MY OVEN!!!...I love it

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Modding out my Pizza Bella: super results!
« Reply #18 on: September 02, 2007, 09:32:53 AM »
As for adjusting the thermostat, there is a link on this site (maybe Peter can direct you) as to how we changed the thermostat.

MTPIZZA,

I don't know if this is what you had in mind but earlier in this thread, at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,2334.msg20398.html#msg20398 (Reply 1), Steve discussed how he modified the Pizza Bella thermostat setting. See also the opening post that preceded Steve's reply.

Peter

Offline toddster63

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Re: Modding out my Pizza Bella: super results!
« Reply #19 on: September 05, 2007, 01:27:01 AM »
I received my Pizza Bella today, and with the help of this thread (despite the fact I didn't know what the hell I was doing), I modified the unit's thermostat ala' Steve--to where the limiter tab is bent up. Once I actually did it, I saw how easy it was. Getting there seemed complicated at first, but I am not mechanically inclined, so these kinds of things are frustrating at first, though I always seem to manage. Overall it only took 30 minutes to disassemble the unit and figure out what the hell the "limitor tab" was, and then bend it up.

Steve's mod is great, as the thermostat still works, and with an afternoon of testing, I figured out where to turn the knob for all temps, up to 1000F. Yes, I got it up to 1000F, and it was wicked hot (it came with two small stains from the previous owner, but these charred away to nothing in the 1000F heat). I marked the "new" different temp points around the temp dial with nail polish, so I can now just dial in 650F, 750F and 800F consistently, give or take 15 degrees. It takes the Deni about 15 minutes to get up to 750F, and around 22 minutes to get up to 1000F (all temperature testing was done with my Neiko infrared laser thermometer, and refer to the temperature of the stone's surface).

Tonight, after all this modifying and testing, was the first test run. I used a 48 hour fridge fermented Lehman dough, 68% hydration, only KA bread flour, water, salt and SAF instant yeast--NO sugar, NO oil. The dough was very lightly kneaded, ala Versano, with my KA 600, with the spiral dough hook. It was allowed to rise for 3 hours at 75F after the 48 hour fridge retardation. The dough balls were around 9.5 ounces, which was a little big for the 11' pies I ended up making to fit in the Deni. In the future I think 8 ounce balls would be about perfect. Both pies had  teencey larger rims than I normally like, and where a little thicker in the middle than I prefer as well...

The first pie was a cheesy margerita, with Polly-O Mozz, cooked at 800F for about 2 minutes, forty seconds. The bottom got very charred (though not burnt and inedible), about like some of the coal oven NY pizzas I have seen, and a few large bubbles on the top crust charred as well. It was too much char for my tastes. Also, a lot of the top crust barely browned, but considering it was KA bread flour, this isn't out of line. This first pie left some burnt marks on the Deni's stone, but they scraped off and didn't seem to affect the second pie at all.

The second pie was a pepperoni, also with Polly-O and Hormel giant peperoni slices, cooked at around 675F for 4 minutes. After two minutes at 675F I turned the unit's temp all the way up, so that the top heating element would come on full blast for a broiler type effect. This pie was great--not too charred on the bottom and had excellent oven spring and texture. It was very New York like, with a firm crust that just drooped at the ends, like I hear NY pizza should...

Pictures are below--both pies had just a little too much rim for my tastes, but as I said the dough balls were a little big.

Overall I'm very impressed with this Deni Pizza oven. I have just gotten some KASL flour, and some Caputo 00 Pizzeria, and some Bakers sweet whey as well, so plenty of experiments are in the works. I really want to see how the Caputo (maybe with some whey mixed in) will do in the Deni at 800F...?

Here is the first pie, cooked at 800F. As I was hunting around for my dig camera, my friend dug into the pizza, leaving me only two slices to photograph...!


« Last Edit: September 05, 2007, 02:56:45 AM by toddster63 »


 

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