Author Topic: Soapstone "Platform" in WFO - Experiment to be conducted  (Read 637 times)

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Offline mitchjg

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Soapstone "Platform" in WFO - Experiment to be conducted
« on: November 06, 2013, 05:36:07 PM »
I got into a discussion with a soapstone installer last week.  We are having new counters put in the kitchen and he and I got to talking about my WFO.  Earlier in his career, he sold WFOs that were made in Greece (he is a Scotsman - I assume he did that work when he was living in Europe).

I shared with him that I was thinking of getting some firebrick to raise the floor on my "raised floor" FGM oven to get more top heat when cooking Neapolitan pies.  Cheap enough to play around with and experiment.

He suggested that I try a slab of soapstone.  I expressed concern because I have read (here) that soapstone is highly conductive and could burn the bottom of the pie too quickly.  He seemed skeptical.  He also said that he thought I would get a great result if he put the soapstone on legs so that air would circulate both above and below.

He made it for me and delivered it today.  Including the legs, the slab is 2 1/2 inches above the floor.  The "raised" version of the FGM raises things 3 inches so, in terms of height, this will emulate the low ceiling.  If I flip the little legs, I can make it 1 3/4"  above the floor.  It is 1/2 " thick.

He cut the slab as an 18" circle.  A piece is cut off on one edge because the door width to the oven is 17.  So, it is 18 round, but 16 across one part. 

I have no idea if this will be a successful effort or a mess.  But, if nothing works out, I have a very nice pizza stone for my home oven!

Any suggestions on this?  Predictions?

- Mitch

 
« Last Edit: November 06, 2013, 05:44:47 PM by mitchjg »


Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Soapstone "Platform" in WFO - Experiment to be conducted
« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2013, 06:00:37 PM »
The number I've seen most cited for soapstone thermal conductivity is 6.4W/(mK) or 10X+ what I'd otherwise think appropriate for a Neapolitan-hot WFO deck, so my money is on black bottom pies.

I am curious to see the result of combining high conductivity with relatively little thermal mass in a WFO however. Maybe it will be surprising.
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Offline stonecutter

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Re: Soapstone "Platform" in WFO - Experiment to be conducted
« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2013, 06:18:49 PM »
The soapstone will be better for your home oven, and it WILL make a great pizza stone.  I installed soapstone counters in my home in CT.  There ended up being some nice cutoffs after I squared the slabs and  I used them as pizza stones in our home oven.  We set the temp at 500*....they came out perfect...I don't remember exactly how long the bake was for. Longer than my WFO!

Using it in a WFO may be counter productive and more hassle than it's worth.  I agree with the likelihood of  burnt bottom crust at temps wfo's are used at...elevating it won't help.  Which would mean using the wfo at lower temps to balance out the difference between the slab or the oven....then what is the point of the wfo right?

EDIT: I just remembered that I used two slabs placed on the racks, one for the pie, the other above.  Once we stopped baking, the oven locked even with the heat off...the soapstone was cranking out heat!
« Last Edit: November 06, 2013, 06:24:42 PM by stonecutter »
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Look at a stone cutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred-and-first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not the last blow that did it, but all that had gone before.
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Offline stonecutter

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Re: Soapstone "Platform" in WFO - Experiment to be conducted
« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2013, 06:21:57 PM »
The number I've seen most cited for soapstone thermal conductivity is 6.4W/(mK) ......

I'm curious, where did you see that?  I don't have any other numbers, it's just that I have not personally seen much study regarding soapstone conductivity within the industry.

EDIT : Never mind I found what I needed to see.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2013, 01:12:14 PM by stonecutter »
http://oldworldstoneandgarden.com/

Look at a stone cutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred-and-first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not the last blow that did it, but all that had gone before.
Jacob August Riis

Offline corkd

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Re: Soapstone "Platform" in WFO - Experiment to be conducted
« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2013, 07:49:41 PM »
I would get the firebrick as well. It's not that expensive. It would be an interesting comparison. I like the idea of having the fire in a "pit" set a bit lower than the cooking surface.

Offline mitchjg

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Re: Soapstone "Platform" in WFO - Experiment to be conducted
« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2013, 08:17:33 PM »
Thanks for the suggestions (and keep em coming). 

We are actually heading out for a 1 week vacation - so no pizza baking for me.  I will survive, though.  Maui beckons......Then, we get back and it is Thanksgiving, so I do not want to experiment with our guests. 

I will not be able to try this out until December.  I will need to recontact the soapstone folks and have more stones made from the leftovers of the slab.

- Mitch

Offline mitchjg

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Re: Soapstone "Platform" in WFO - Experiment to be conducted
« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2013, 09:38:55 PM »
As some of you predicted, this did not work out very well. 

The first issue was that the heat up time was terribly slow.  I build the fire on the side of the oven in order to keep the woodpile off the soapstone.  Slowed things down a LOT.

So, giving up on that as a concept I would accept, I moved the fire over the stone and more pervasively in the oven.  As I expected, the heat up accelerated. 

The second issue was the pie bake.  I had to move the pie off the floor super fast to prevent if very burning too much.  Spent way too much effort fooling around with doming and protecting the bottom.  And, they blackened a bit too much anyway.

Third, the stone looks like it cracked.  I will be able to check more closely sometime tomorrow when it is cooler and I can remove it with oven gloves.

So, although the learning experience may have been worthwhile, cooking this way was not worthwhile.

I may, at some point, try out firebricks.  For right now, I will go back to using the oven as it was designed to be used without a modification.

- Mitch

Offline stonecutter

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Re: Soapstone "Platform" in WFO - Experiment to be conducted
« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2013, 11:02:01 PM »
Thanks for the update.

Not surprised the stone cracked...3" is usually a minimum for direct fire soapstone, unless it's backed directly to thermal mass.
http://oldworldstoneandgarden.com/

Look at a stone cutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred-and-first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not the last blow that did it, but all that had gone before.
Jacob August Riis