Author Topic: Barrel vault oven vs. "Pompeii" dome oven: ARRGH!  (Read 22930 times)

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Offline Fio

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Barrel vault oven vs. "Pompeii" dome oven: ARRGH!
« on: April 27, 2006, 09:01:56 AM »
My oven is not yet built.  The slab is poured, and the base will be completed this weekend, but I have not built the actual oven, though I am in the throes of planning it.

A comment yesterday from Pizzanapoletana really got me thinking. My plan is/was to build a 28X30 "Barrel vault" oven a la the ones made in "The Bread Builders" by Alan Scott.   It's rectangular in shape and has an arched vaulted roof. 

I realize that that is pretty small for an oven, and it will be only a 1-pizza oven.  Moreover, the Barrel vault design is intended to bake bread using retained heat, as opposed to pizza using direct fire.  :pizza:

Then I visited the Forno Bravo site and looked at their "Pompeii Oven" design.  They had a very good discussion of why round is better:  http://www.fornobravo.com/pompeii_oven/why_round.html

So here I am: not yet committed, but seriously thinking that I should scrap my plans to build a barrel vault and go for the dome.  Fortunately, I have not yet purchased anything that I will be unable to use in building the dome as an alternative (Except the $100 I spent on the barrel vault plans, but I've learned a lot, and it's money well spent).

My problems is space limitation: The slab is poured, the base is built, and I have a challenge.  Due to my poor planning, I only have 48" (122 cm) X 56" (142 cm) to work with because that is the size of my block base.   From this I have determined that, with a minimum of exterior housing (yet allowing for insulation using refractory board), I can probably build an oven with an inside diameter of 33-35" (81-88 cm).   

Questions:

1) Do you agree that a dome is the proper configuration for a direct-fire pizza oven?
2) Is it worth the extra trouble to build a dome oven? I'll have to cut a LOT of bricks, and build a very tricky dome based on shims, etc.
3) Will a dome oven of the size I am planning give me any more space to cook an extra 10-inch (25cm) pie?  Even if I'll be able to cook only one pie at a time, I think the heat characteristics of the dome are superior.
4) Are you getting tired of my flurry of questions (don't anser that one!  :-X)
Since joining this forum, I've begun using words like "autolyze" and have become anal about baker's percents.  My dough is forever changed.


Offline David

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Re: Barrel vault oven vs. "Pompeii" dome oven: ARRGH!
« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2006, 12:14:21 PM »

Quote
So here I am: not yet committed, but seriously thinking that I should scrap my plans to build a barrel vault and go for the dome.  Fortunately, I have not yet purchased anything that I will be unable to use in building the dome as an alternative (Except the $100 I spent on the barrel vault plans, but I've learned a lot, and it's money well spent).

My problems is space limitation: The slab is poured, the base is built, and I have a challenge.  Due to my poor planning, I only have 48" (122 cm) X 56" (142 cm) to work with because that is the size of my block base.   From this I have determined that, with a minimum of exterior housing (yet allowing for insulation using refractory board), I can probably build an oven with an inside diameter of 33-35" (81-88 cm).   

Questions:

1) Do you agree that a dome is the proper configuration for a direct-fire pizza oven?
2) Is it worth the extra trouble to build a dome oven? I'll have to cut a LOT of bricks, and build a very tricky dome based on shims, etc.
3) Will a dome oven of the size I am planning give me any more space to cook an extra 10-inch (25cm) pie?  Even if I'll be able to cook only one pie at a time, I think the heat characteristics of the dome are superior.

Quote

I studied the Bread Builders,and I built my oven basically following the plans for the "Pompei" and adjusting it to suit my own taste / theory /conclusions.I had never laid a brick prior to this.If you think you can build a barrel,then you can build a Dome.It is the only choice in my opinion.It's a shame you spent $100 on plans as everything (almost !) is available for free on the internet.
"Even if I'll be able to cook only one pie at a time, I think the heat characteristics of the dome are superior." I think you are looking for confimation not answers . ;) With thousands of Dome ovens built all over Europe for many ,many years - I think they know more than a thing or two about oven building and what works best.Come to think of it,the only wood fired Pizzeria that i've personally seen using a barrel shape over here is Bertuccis.................Enough said,
                                                                                  David
« Last Edit: April 27, 2006, 12:16:25 PM by David »
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Offline pizzanapoletana

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Re: Barrel vault oven vs. "Pompeii" dome oven: ARRGH!
« Reply #2 on: April 27, 2006, 12:27:35 PM »
Fio,

The circular domed oven has a better air flow which indeed is an advantage. The so called "pompeii oven" (on Forno Bravo site) however has a dome which is too high.

By the way, I would not even call it Pompeii oven, but probably Tuscan oven. I am saying this because the oven found in Pompeii were higher then current neapolitan ovens but these were also larger and in fact the proportion between height and diameter is almos identical to current neapolitan ovens, whilst the oven in the Forno Bravo plans has a different proportion.

Ciao.

ps Did you read my thread on Wodd burning pizza ovens?


Offline Fio

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Re: Barrel vault oven vs. "Pompeii" dome oven: ARRGH!
« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2006, 03:02:32 PM »
I DID read your thread on wood burning pizza ovens; it was extremely informative.

In your view, how critical is the ratio of dome height to door height?  Does the same 63% ratio apply to pizza ovens as it does in bread ovens?
Since joining this forum, I've begun using words like "autolyze" and have become anal about baker's percents.  My dough is forever changed.

Offline pizzanapoletana

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Re: Barrel vault oven vs. "Pompeii" dome oven: ARRGH!
« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2006, 05:02:36 PM »
Fio,

Sorry but I don't think you have read my posts, otherwise you would not even ask about the 63%... the pizza oven must be much lower otherwise you won't be cooking the top of your pizza before iy burn underneath....

The ratio, the curve/form, the door size as well, most importantly the materials, are all crytical.

If you allow me a suggestion, you need to be realistic from the beginning of your project and realise that you won't be building a good oven. It will be surely be better then any electric ovens and also very good to bake the like of one pizza at the time for a total of few pizza on anyone evening. I am sure you will enjoy the project and the resulting oven, but just keep your expectation low. I have seen professional artisan build ovens, and I was shocked to see how many details need to be look at... and how much knowledge and expertise is required.

Good luck

Marco

Offline Fio

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Re: Barrel vault oven vs. "Pompeii" dome oven: ARRGH!
« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2006, 10:49:32 AM »
Fio,


If you allow me a suggestion, you need to be realistic from the beginning of your project and realise that you won't be building a good oven.

Marco

Marco,

I WILL build a good oven.  It won't meet your standards (hardly anything does, and that's perfectly understandable) but I will enjoy it and my family and friends will be amazed.

Thanks.
Since joining this forum, I've begun using words like "autolyze" and have become anal about baker's percents.  My dough is forever changed.

Offline billneild

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Re: Barrel vault oven vs. "Pompeii" dome oven: ARRGH!
« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2006, 02:50:20 PM »
"It won't meet your standards (hardly anything does, and that's perfectly understandable)"

ROTFLMAO

Offline pizzanapoletana

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Re: Barrel vault oven vs. "Pompeii" dome oven: ARRGH!
« Reply #7 on: April 29, 2006, 08:52:06 AM »
If PFtaylor allows me to quote him, "life is too short not to experience the best"... that is almost my look on life....

on wood ovens this is more then true.

Offline Harv

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Re: Barrel vault oven vs. "Pompeii" dome oven: ARRGH!
« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2006, 07:22:55 AM »
I too am building a brick oven in the barrel vault design.  I looked at many sources for info and would offer these opinions.

The Forno Bravo discussion of why round is better has some flaws.  For example,  in their first paragraph they say that the round oven heats up more quickly than the heavier oven.  In the second paragraph they say the round oven can reach and hold the heat better.  You can't have it both ways, either a heavier oven that heats up more slowly buts holds heat longer or a lighter oven that heats up more quickly but, cools off more quickly as well.

A pizza does not care about the shape of the oven.  It could be round or rectangular or a cube for that matter.  In theory, I could see that If you cook a single pizza in the exact center of the oven  the heat may be more uniform for the dome shape, though I don't think it would make much difference.  If you take an oven with 2, 4, 6 or more pizzas in it you loose that geometric advantage.  I would guarantee that if you took a barrel and dome oven of  similar material construction and similar dimensions and heated them to equivalent temperatures, no one would be able to tell the difference between two identical pizzas cooked in those ovens. 

I'm building the barrel vault because I also plan on doing some roasting and bread baking.  However, I'm quite sure I could build a dome oven that would accomplish the same tasks.  It's more about heat capacity, insulation and the refractory properties of the materials than the shape of the oven.

The chimney design, damping, door size and shape etc.  can affect the air flow as much or more than the shape of the oven.

I don't know why you see the debate over and over as to dome vs. barrel.  Does a bite from a square pizza taste different than a round one?

Pay attention to known design parameters for whichever oven you choose to build and I think you will be a happy pizza maker.

I poured my concrete slab last week and will be geting started on the masonry soon.  Wanna race? ;)

Offline Fio

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Re: Barrel vault oven vs. "Pompeii" dome oven: ARRGH!
« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2006, 08:46:49 AM »

I'm building the barrel vault because I also plan on doing some roasting and bread baking.  However, I'm quite sure I could build a dome oven that would accomplish the same tasks.  It's more about heat capacity, insulation and the refractory properties of the materials than the shape of the oven.

The chimney design, damping, door size and shape etc.  can affect the air flow as much or more than the shape of the oven.

I don't know why you see the debate over and over as to dome vs. barrel.  Does a bite from a square pizza taste different than a round one?

Pay attention to known design parameters for whichever oven you choose to build and I think you will be a happy pizza maker.

I poured my concrete slab last week and will be geting started on the masonry soon.  Wanna race? ;)

Harv,

I agree with nearly everything you said.  My reason for going with a dome is primarily space.   I poured a small slab (5' x 6 ') and my base (which is finally done, awaiting a hearth) is 49" X 56".   When you consider the incredible thermal mass required of the barrel vault oven and the thick walls (do the math) it would limit the size of a barrel vault oven.  Now I've never built or even baked in a brick oven before, but it seems to me that the rectangular shape of the oven limits the usage of space due to corners, etc.  You can't really bake in a corner.  In a round dome, there are no corners, so space is more flexibly utilized.

Plus, I don't need the incredible thermal mass of an Alan Scott oven.   All that cladding, the tin foil, etc. does not appeal to me.  It will take about 3 hours to heat up, and lots of wood.  That's fine if you are planning to bake several loads of bread with one firing, but to make a few pizzas, a one-hour fire up time is much more appealing.  The walls will be 4.5" of firebrick with maybe an inch of mortar.  That will heat up quicker, plus retain enough heat to do a roast afterwards.

I totally agree that a pizza from a round oven will taste the same as a pizza from a barrel vault oven, if they are both properly used.

Re: the masonry.  Strongly consider the Forno Bravo base construction method.  Instead of mortaring the blocks, just stack them and pour concrete + rebar in every other void.  You can do in one day what took me weeks to do.  Having mortared every block I wish I had done the simpler method. 

I am darn sure both our ovens will make some kick-ass pizzas.   Some disagree (read the comments of some others to this post) but we'll succeed and be proud of our efforts.

Race? Sure.  I HOPE to have the oven baking mode by July 4.  (I won't have to let the cladding dry out for three weeks; another advantage).  That's going to be difficult: Weekend time is at a premium, Memorial Day is shot, etc.   I know that the finishing touches (enclosure, roof, decor, etc.) will take a while.   

What's your target completion date? 

Good luck.

- Fio
Since joining this forum, I've begun using words like "autolyze" and have become anal about baker's percents.  My dough is forever changed.


Offline JPY

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Re: Barrel vault oven vs. "Pompeii" dome oven: ARRGH!
« Reply #10 on: May 12, 2006, 09:35:47 AM »
I have a question.  "in their first paragraph they say that the round oven heats up more quickly than the heavier oven"  How do you compare a shape of something, such as a round oven, to the mass of something. Why can't you make a round oven heavy?  It's not a wise analogy. 
-JP-

Offline David

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Re: Barrel vault oven vs. "Pompeii" dome oven: ARRGH!
« Reply #11 on: May 12, 2006, 10:10:34 AM »


Plus, I don't need the incredible thermal mass of an Alan Scott oven.   All that cladding, the tin foil, etc. does not appeal to me.  It will take about 3 hours to heat up, and lots of wood.  That's fine if you are planning to bake several loads of bread with one firing, but to make a few pizzas, a one-hour fire up time is much more appealing.  The walls will be 4.5" of firebrick with maybe an inch of mortar.  That will heat up quicker, plus retain enough heat to do a roast afterwards.

- Fio

Hi Fio,
I hope you can achieve your desired cooking temperatures within an hour but after using my oven for the past year,I have not.To get the oven hot enough fo my Neapolitan  Pizza it really does need at least three hrs pre-heat.If I can offer any help ,let me know?Good luck with your project,
                                                                                                David
If you're looking for a date... go to the Supermarket.If you're looking for a wife....go to the Farmers market

Offline pizzanapoletana

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Re: Barrel vault oven vs. "Pompeii" dome oven: ARRGH!
« Reply #12 on: May 12, 2006, 10:41:42 AM »
Harv

your statements have many flaws  so I do not see any evidence of your argument. Why don't we talk about thermodynamic, physics and/or even experience about cooking with these two type of ovens and then we can all discuss. If instead you were trying to justify your design decision by convincing other people of the equality of the two, then has even more flaws..

You need to consider hot air flow, heat radiation, the presence or not of cold spot (a square or rectangular one has plenty of those...) etc.. to see why the dome/circular one is better...

About the pizza: actually it does prefer one specif design, which not only needs to be a dome one, but specifically needs to have a particular dome curve and very strict dimensional ratios...

Offline Harv

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Re: Barrel vault oven vs. "Pompeii" dome oven: ARRGH!
« Reply #13 on: May 12, 2006, 04:16:53 PM »
Pizzanapoletana-

First of all I am not trying to justify my design.  I'm building exactly the kind of oven I wish for my purposes.  The main point of my earlier discussion was that if you pay attention to known design principals you can build a very functional oven regardless of shape within reason.  Also, as I stated, the door chimney etc all play a part in the air flow.   If you have an outdoor oven, the wind on any particular day will also have a pronounced affect on airflow.  If you have a fire going in the oven, the temperatures and size of the fire or coals will also affect the airflow within the oven.  So, unless you have the exact same shape in the oven (piles of ash etc), place your pizza in the exact same place ( of course the pizza itself has to be the same dimensions), have a controlled external enviroment(wind across the chimney etc.)  you will not have the same airflow within an oven.    Given, all the complex variables, a well designed oven is a well designed oven and can give you wonderful results.
Finally, as I stated in my original post, those were my opinions.  I was not trying to present a scientific case.  However, a scientific argument can be taken too far.  For example if you take any oven you choose and place a small rock inside of it you will change the airflow within the oven.   That is a scientific fact.  Now, would it matter?  A pizza cooked in the oven without the stone vs. one cooked with the stone would likely be the same.  Much like two ovens, either both dome or both rectangles or one of each, will be scientifically different, but will the difference be perceivable? 

JPY-  Your question was my question in reading the Forno Bravo info.  Those were their words.  My point was that shape and mass can both be varied to suit your needs.

Fio - My original goal was to be cooking by August, but I know about three weeks of July will be spent traveling. So, although I am hopeful, August may be too optimistic.

Offline JPY

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Re: Barrel vault oven vs. "Pompeii" dome oven: ARRGH!
« Reply #14 on: May 12, 2006, 05:05:36 PM »
I did not mean it towrads you, but rather to the statement from Forno Bravo, I'm sorry for the misunderstanding.
-JP-

Offline pizzanapoletana

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Re: Barrel vault oven vs. "Pompeii" dome oven: ARRGH!
« Reply #15 on: May 12, 2006, 07:07:36 PM »
The difference is percivable once you used a proper oven and then compare anything else against it!

Once the oven is hot enough, the winds (within reasons) do not affect air flow in the sense I mean it (the hot vortex air that is created on the dome of a circular oven, things that do not happen in a square or rectangular one...

We cook up to 6 pizza at the time in a Neapolitan dome oven, all placed in different part and all cook properly. DO that with a square one.

A well design oven cannot be a rectangular one, sorry, as it has too many flaws (cold spot, poor even radiant heat, unbalnced floor/"sky" temperature amongst the more important).

It was your opinion, but you start talking about :
A pizza does not care about the shape of the oven. It could be round or rectangular or a cube for that matter. In theory, I could see that If you cook a single pizza in the exact center of the oven the heat may be more uniform for the dome shape, though I don't think it would make much difference. If you take an oven with 2, 4, 6 or more pizzas in it you loose that geometric advantage. I would guarantee that if you took a barrel and dome oven of similar material construction and similar dimensions and heated them to equivalent temperatures, no one would be able to tell the difference between two identical pizzas cooked in those ovens.



Have you test it????




Offline Harv

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Re: Barrel vault oven vs. "Pompeii" dome oven: ARRGH!
« Reply #16 on: May 13, 2006, 05:16:46 AM »
Testing it-  Boy if you could get my wife to let me build two ovens in our backyard I would love to have another oven ;D.

Unfortunately I don't think I'll have the chance.

Just one final question on the subject for Marco:
Do you contend that a rectangular shaped oven cannot be built in such a way that a single pizza placed in the center of it will  experience a heat profile that will cook it like a pizza placed anywhere in a circular/dome oven?

Offline Fio

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Re: Barrel vault oven vs. "Pompeii" dome oven: ARRGH!
« Reply #17 on: May 13, 2006, 08:59:46 AM »

Do you contend that a rectangular shaped oven cannot be built in such a way that a single pizza placed in the center of it will  experience a heat profile that will cook it like a pizza placed anywhere in a circular/dome oven?

There are half a dozen really good websites by people who have built Alan Scott/Rado ovens and they depict pizzas being cooked to perfection, with smiling party guests wolfing them down.

As I have said before: I will built an oven, it WILL be a good oven, I will make fantastic pizza in it and I will enjoy the frickin' hell out of it.  The knowledge that I am not attaining a Platonic level of metaphysical and theoretical thermodynamic perfection will not adversely affect the taste of my pizza, or the joy I will have in making it.
Since joining this forum, I've begun using words like "autolyze" and have become anal about baker's percents.  My dough is forever changed.

Offline Harv

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Re: Barrel vault oven vs. "Pompeii" dome oven: ARRGH!
« Reply #18 on: May 13, 2006, 09:22:13 AM »
Fio-  My question to Marco was directed to Pizzanapoletana (who I believe is also known as Marco).  If you are also a Marco then it is a misunderstanding.  Or perhaps you are just quoting me and adding your opinion, I can't tell for sure.


I agree with you 100%.  I believe you and I are in absolute agreement that you can achieve wonderful results with a dome, barrel, adobe,  or other oven.  Building your own oven and making food to go in it is a very fulfilling project that will lead to some truly great pizza, bread etc :chef:.

Offline pizzanapoletana

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Re: Barrel vault oven vs. "Pompeii" dome oven: ARRGH!
« Reply #19 on: May 13, 2006, 04:43:03 PM »
That is what I mean!!!


Do you contend that a rectangular shaped oven cannot be built in such a way that a single pizza placed in the center of it will experience a heat profile that will cook it like a pizza placed anywhere in a circular/dome oven?


WE  PROBABLY MEAN TWO DIFFERENT PRODUCTS WHEN WE TALK ABOUT WOOD FIRED PIZZA.

Show me one pizza, just one, that can compare to one of the pizza cooked in a neapolitan oven, or even a circular one: