Author Topic: Do you have experience baking with charcoal  (Read 2470 times)

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Offline MightyPizzaOven

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Do you have experience baking with charcoal
« on: September 10, 2013, 08:45:23 PM »
 I like some feedback from members experienced baking with charcoal

I have been experimenting using charcoal briquets , lumps and wood. I found charcoal briquets best suited to use with MPO.  Based on my test today using a homemade charcoal basket under MPO, it looks very promising to bake at temp between 600 and 700 f. Still need some tweeking.  I will be posting my results in this post.

For pizzakettle members, have you baked pizza using charcoal only? without burning wood?

For greenegg members and similar ceramic grills, please provide your experience and photos with your gill..

Thank you in advance.
Bert,


Offline jsperk

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Re: Do you have experience baking with charcoal
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2013, 11:20:29 PM »
I have not tried making a pizza with no wood in the grill with my kettle attachment.  Maybe I will try one next pizza cook.

I also have a ceramic grill but I like my results better with the kettle attachment. I can never get the right combo of top and bottom heat on my ceramic grill.

Now I'm ready to pull the trigger on the Black Stone.

I was curious if you design would work on my kettle but I was afraid to spend that amount and it didn't work and I don't have a as grill to use it on.

I will update when I run no charcoal.

Offline MightyPizzaOven

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Re: Do you have experience baking with charcoal
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2013, 11:36:31 PM »
Thank you for your feedback. Once I figure out amount of charcoal to use and where to place it under mpo in a basket. It should work on any charcoal grill.
Bert,

Offline adm

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Re: Do you have experience baking with charcoal
« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2013, 03:46:51 AM »
I have made quite a lot of pizzas in my weber grill using charcoal. Have been using the Weber Charcoal Pizza Oven accessory for this.

I use lump charcoal exclusively - and have found that the temperature does depend on the quality of the lump. I use "restaurant grade" charcoal, which has much larger pieces than normal, and almost no dust.

Using this, the stone temperature can get over 800F - although 700-750 is more common. You do need a lot of coal to get temps this high, but it keeps hot for a good hour or so.

I think briquettes would give a much more predictable (although lower) temperature and probably a longer burn, however I personally don't like using briquettes due to the binders and fillers used in the manufacturing process.

One other thought - I used to have some "Big Green Egg" brand extruded coconut charcoal. That burned really hot and long, so would probably be ideal. However I can no longer buy it in the UK.

Offline MightyPizzaOven

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Re: Do you have experience baking with charcoal
« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2013, 09:00:53 AM »
Thank you for your feedback. On your weber insert, does your top temperature match you bottom temperature?

I have been reading about coconut charcoal, it is not available locally. It is about $9 for 4 pounds online.
Bert,

Offline adm

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Re: Do you have experience baking with charcoal
« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2013, 09:39:43 AM »
It's actually pretty tough to measure the top temperature because of the way the thing is constructed. It's not so much an insert, as a complete replacement for the grill and lid. It's a much lower lid with a hinge at the back and only sits about 2" above the stone. There is no top stone like the MPO. The bottom stone sits over a special cavity, which I guess is to prevent it from getting overheated by direct exposure to the coals.

There's a set of air vents at the back, and the hot air moves across the top of the pizza in a pretty laminar fashion. I'll try and measure the top heat next time I fire it up....

There's some good pics of the unit in this thread: http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,24677.0.html

The charcoal I am using is "Big K Restaurant Charcoal". It has lumps the size of my forearm! It's pretty reasonably priced. 33lb bags are about $20 delivered - although you do have to buy five to get free delivery.

Offline MightyPizzaOven

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Re: Do you have experience baking with charcoal
« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2013, 09:54:44 AM »
Alasdair, have you used other flour than Caputo? I found Caputo is harder to brown on top with above temperatures less than 800 f.
Bert,

Offline MightyPizzaOven

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Re: Do you have experience baking with charcoal
« Reply #7 on: September 11, 2013, 11:05:47 AM »
I don't like to use wood, It  produces lots of black soot.
Bert,

Offline pizza is love

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Re: Do you have experience baking with charcoal
« Reply #8 on: September 11, 2013, 11:14:42 AM »
You should give kingsford competition briquets a try

Offline MightyPizzaOven

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Re: Do you have experience baking with charcoal
« Reply #9 on: September 11, 2013, 11:20:58 AM »
You should give kingsford competition briquets a try

Is it available at Walmart?
Bert,


Offline Jet_deck

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Re: Do you have experience baking with charcoal
« Reply #10 on: September 11, 2013, 11:39:46 AM »
Bert, have you considered fan forced air to increase the temps and to get there quicker?  Or would that add complexity and gadjets not needed?  I was thinking along the lines of a Stoker (https://www.rocksbarbque.com/)  or a BBQ guru ( http://www.thebbqguru.com/)
Her mind is Tiffany-twisted, she got the Mercedes bends

Offline MightyPizzaOven

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Re: Do you have experience baking with charcoal
« Reply #11 on: September 11, 2013, 12:01:51 PM »
Gene, I did try forced fan in another setup, where I built a custom charcoal box.  I didn 't like using the fan, it blew ashes and made the charcoal burn faster. But I do have a design in mind to introduce air into burning coal and prevent ashes from flying. And potentially use a cheaper version of stoker to have multiple heat setting.

In the setup I shown in this post, I am trying to come up with a method or adaptor to allow using MPO on any charcoal grill by just using charcoal.

I hope that make sense.
Bert,

Offline jhrcdn

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Re: Do you have experience baking with charcoal
« Reply #12 on: September 11, 2013, 12:09:38 PM »
IMO, and what I've found, is that a kamado / egg / primo etc... is much, much easier to produce a nice pizzeria style // NY style pizza than any standard kettle out there, because they do have a much more oven-like profile. But you can do a great pizza in a kettle with the right attachments...hard to keep the heat in those things though. 

I have a Primo oval xl kamado, and using pure lump charcoal, I've made a number of pizzas over the last year. They're actually great--and no-one who has eaten one has ever complained! But they're not super high temperature pies. So I'm cooking them at 500-600F dome temperature over ceramic plate inserts. That means a 14" pizza in about 8-10 minutes (if you haven't overloaded toppings etc...).

I've been experimenting with a number of stones, including thinner and thicker ones, and the Big Green Egg stone. The best I've found by far--and the most versatile, because it's glazed--is the new Emile Henry BBQ pizza stone. It's a very interesting, very high tech, very high temperature, very thin device with extreme thermal shock capability and heats up very quickly too (they actually say "no preheat necessary"--and it does work, but not optimally). It transfers heat though extremely well compared with regular stones--and that's the secret to it. I've found you do need to turn the stone a number of times or it will find the hot spots in the kamado--even with ceramic plates below! 

So here's what I've done so far:

1. build a full fire on the primo oval
2. once fire is going, add ceramic plates (this makes a radiant floor)
3. build dome heat to 500-600F
4. hold for 40 minutes to an hour to optimize burn rate. The good thing about a kamado is that to hold 500-600F you don't need much of a fire at all once the plates have heated up. You really are working with an oven at this point
5. pre-heat pizza stone
6. turn pizza once or twice (you don't have to do this more than once if you've done the pre-heat--if you're in a rush, well, you need to turn a lot, which can just make things worse). 

This works really well--one large or two small pies at a time. You can even cook them with a bit lower heat and longer bake times. You'll still get some wood flavour, and of course you can use wood chunks or a log in there too. For the stone, for example, Emile Henry recommends 465F (but I like the results better at higher heat, especially with any mix of 00 flour).

Now, people do All Kinds of Crazy Things with their kamados to try to replicate a wfo and 800F + cooking, and the kamados go to those temps easily (and have mass, etc...they hold heat for a long time for a "grill" and are very efficient!I mean, 800F is fabulous for a good thick steak, but you don't need that heat for long...

But the essential problem with a kamado / egg for pizza is that at temps over 600, without doing really crazy things, the "floor" of the oven is generally a lot hotter than the dome, which means instantly burned on the bottom and undercooked up top :) Also, when you open the dome, you lose all your superheated air :) So I know folks who try to get the pie up into the dome as much as possible with bricks and such, and yep--they get a 2 minute pie and it looks great--without opening the lid. But fire management is incredibly tricky at this point--hot spots will happen--and you're going to ruin a lot of pizzas on the way to getting it right.

Now, after some thought, I actually think a better way to do a higher temp pie, with a Primo oval, (and maybe *only* with a Primo oval because of its shape), is to build a half fire box fire (on the left, say) and then put two ceramic plates on the right (for building thermal mass).

Then heat the oven to dome temp 750-800 and hold it there for 40 minutes. Then put that Emile Henry--or maybe even a steel plate--on the *right* hand side, and cook a simple pizza on that for less than 3 minutes without opening the lid.  Maybe with  an extra "lift" in there for a little more height into the dome. But you can't 1) see what your pizza is doing and 2) you can't "dome" the pizza to get a flash of char on top--too much happening too quickly and every time you open the oven you lose a lot of dome heat. 

Anyway, that's the experiment I'm going to make. We'll see how it works. In the meantime, I'm looking into wood ovens as well. I do think after using the kamado a lot over a year now that they are better suited (and ideally suited in terms of speed, economy and results) for temps from very low (even cold smoking) to normal-high oven temps (with the ability to get a real sear as well).

Here's a 550 degree dome temp margherita (too low for the 00 flour, but tasted great. It's 60/40 "00" flour with 65% hydration (and too much dough for the stone LOL); buffalo-milk mozza, san marzano tomatoes, salt, pepper, pinch of oregano and fresh basil sitting on the Primo. Absolutely delicious--and 9 minutes total, but not a high-temp pie...

« Last Edit: September 11, 2013, 12:14:07 PM by jhrcdn »

Offline MightyPizzaOven

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Re: Do you have experience baking with charcoal
« Reply #13 on: September 11, 2013, 12:35:05 PM »
Thank you for your detail feedback. Please share your experiment results on this post later if possible.

In my setup, I am trying to maintain a temperature of 600  to 700 f for over one hour, which should allow baking at least 6 pies. Based my experiment yesterday, I am close to achieve that without loading more charcoal.

Correction: I already achieved these temperatures, I just need to have a more uniform temp on the bottom stone by adjusting amount of charcoal and it's placement locAtion
« Last Edit: September 11, 2013, 12:43:35 PM by MightyPizzaOven »
Bert,

Offline MightyPizzaOven

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Re: Do you have experience baking with charcoal
« Reply #14 on: September 11, 2013, 12:37:04 PM »
Good looking pie btw, if you like darker top browning just use bread flour.
Bert,

Offline jhrcdn

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Re: Do you have experience baking with charcoal
« Reply #15 on: September 11, 2013, 12:48:13 PM »
Thanks Bert--like I said it was great to eat: the actual crust (not the rolls around the pizza) was actually very thin with a nice rise as well.

I knew the 00 flour mix was going to be on the light side at that temp... but I wanted t see what would happen :)

When I get a chance to experiment with steel and a true "indirect" cook I'll post back!

ETA--I followed your link--fabulous looking pies! I wonder if the MPO would fit in the kamado :)
« Last Edit: September 11, 2013, 01:21:40 PM by jhrcdn »

Offline adm

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Re: Do you have experience baking with charcoal
« Reply #16 on: September 11, 2013, 01:09:38 PM »
Alasdair, have you used other flour than Caputo? I found Caputo is harder to brown on top with above temperatures less than 800 f.

I have indeed! And you are right for sure - the Caputo takes more heat to brown. I have used various different blends from 100% Caputo, to 100% strong white bread flour. I am still not settled on what works best yet.

I am mow mainly using the Caputo with my indoor electric P134H pizza oven (which hits 900F), and I have a bag of Marriage's "Bella" Pizzeria flour for the Weber - however the weather here hasn't been good enough for me to see how that works. In addition, I don't know the specs on that yet as I bought it on a whim and the millers haven't yet sent me the spec sheet!

Offline jhrcdn

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Re: Do you have experience baking with charcoal
« Reply #17 on: September 11, 2013, 01:23:24 PM »
Thanks Bert--like I said it was great to eat: the actual crust (not the rolls around the pizza) was actually very thin with a nice rise as well.

I knew the 00 flour mix was going to be on the light side at that temp... but I wanted t see what would happen :)

When I get a chance to experiment with steel and a true "indirect" cook I'll post back!

ETA--I followed your link--fabulous looking pies! I wonder if the MPO would fit in the kamado :)

600-700F for an hour with a kettle style grill is outstanding!


Offline MightyPizzaOven

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Re: Do you have experience baking with charcoal
« Reply #18 on: September 11, 2013, 01:57:53 PM »

When I get a chance to experiment with steel and a true "indirect" cook I'll post back!

ETA--I followed your link--fabulous looking pies! I wonder if the MPO would fit in the kamado :)

Thanks, what is the diameter of the kamado?

MPO bottom foot print is about 17"x17" it will sit on top of a 22.5" webber. Mpo corners About 1/2" over lap. My thought for the webber is to design my charcoal basket to hangs under MPO.
Bert,

Offline MightyPizzaOven

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Re: Do you have experience baking with charcoal
« Reply #19 on: September 11, 2013, 02:01:16 PM »
"600-700F for an hour with a kettle style grill is outstanding! "

I am achieving that using my setup I posted earlier, using Aussie grill from academy, $49

I should have similar results with kettle style, I like to test before confirming.
Bert,


 

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