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...!