Author Topic: Cast-iron skillet in Kamodo, perfect pan temperature.  (Read 745 times)

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Offline twi252

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Cast-iron skillet in Kamodo, perfect pan temperature.
« on: June 22, 2014, 08:21:12 AM »
Hey guys,

Tried using my lodge 14" cast-iron pizza-pan in my Kamodo today.

Got the oven to around 600-degree's F during pre-heating, and about 500 F for the cook (~2 mins).

Obviously the temperature of the pan was too hot (got some great bubbles though!) but i was wondering what the optimum temperature would be to aim for, on the pan?

I have a non-contact thermometer on the way so i can keep tabs on the pan temperature.

In my next cook i'm planning to adjust the vents to keep things at about 500 degrees, but i'm a bit worried the thermal mass of the cast-iron might still be too hot, especially when cooking multiple pizza's and the pan gets hotter and hotter during each cook.

I have a multi-level rack in my Kamodo so i'm thinking of putting the pan higher from the fire so it doesnt get as hot, and being near the top of the oven, get more reflected heat to cook the top of the pie.

I'll also shorten the pre-heat time, thinking of maybe about 15 minutes, but i guess i can experiment with that.

I used the America's Test Kitchen thin-crust dough recipe (my standard for now, but might try the doughs on this board as well) and gave it a good 2.5 days fermentation (cold-rise) which always yields good results.

Would anyone have any ideas/tips on cooking with this method? Apart from the blackened base, the pizza was fantastic, beautifully big heat-blisters, excellent chew, etc.


Thanks!


Offline twi252

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Re: Cast-iron skillet in Kamodo, perfect pan temperature.
« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2014, 08:44:32 AM »
Sorry, forgot to mention, the problem with my cook today was that the base was blackened.. :)

Was great every other way.


Thanks.

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Cast-iron skillet in Kamodo, perfect pan temperature.
« Reply #2 on: June 22, 2014, 10:06:07 AM »
Sounds like you are thinking in the right direction. It would be helpful to see pictures of the set-up as you had it yesterday.

In general, cast iron and steel are not ideal baking surfaces when you have intense bottom heat. They are simply too conductive. You might find that a set-up with a stone(s) works better. When I was baking in my BBQ mod (http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=9614.0), I found that I needed a very low conductivity stone to get the pies I wanted (I also had a somewhat reflective aluminum plate under it). The FibramentD stone I used is about 25% as conductive as typical baking stones (i.e. typical baking stones are 4X as conductive). Your cast iron pan is more than 90X as conductive as the Fibrament. 

In a typical home oven, 500F for 2 minutes on cast iron would probably not burn the bottom of the pie. I'm a little surprised it did in your kamodo. I suspect the difference is that with the intense heat below, the temperature of the iron didn't drop much as it would in an oven and maybe went up. If the rack your pan is on is wire - such that the fire is directly below the pan (nothing directly blocking the IR from the fire), that is probably what is happening.

Even with a much less conductive surface, I think you may find that you will want a solid surface such as a stone to block the direct IR, and then an air gap (doesn't have to be very wide) so you don't have stone-stone conductivity, and then the pan or perhaps better yet, another stone. The air gap could be created by a couple little (1/4" even) pieces of ceramic that sit on the lower surface and create a standoff for the second.

Post a couple pictures and we will see if we can be of more help.
Pizza is not bread.

Offline twi252

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Re: Cast-iron skillet in Kamodo, perfect pan temperature.
« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2014, 09:19:03 PM »
Hi Craig,

Many thanks for the reply. While i didnt take pics during the problem cook, attached is a pic of the oven.

During the problem cook, the Lodge pan was simply sitting on top of the wire grates, which i think we agree is why it got too hot (it surprised me how hot cast-iron can really get..)

My next play is to use a dual level rack, put the heat-diffuser (supplied with the Kamodo) on the lower rack as pictured, and the cast-iron on the upper-rack.

In theory, the cast-iron should heat alot slower, as the diffuser should block most direct IR, and i'm hoping for a little more colour on top of the pie, being closer to the top, using reflected heat, and with some luck, a better colour on the bottom.

Unfortunately i didnt have my non-contact thermometer for the previous cook, but i do now, so i will take some readings and understand where things stand.

I've had stones in the past, and they do a decent job, but unlike a home oven, it's hard to put them in when things are cold so the stone doesnt crack, and i've had a few structural failures, hence why i got the cast-iron for bbq style cooking, but as you mention and as i've learnt recently their just way too conductive.

I'll test the above plan and report back in a few weeks. As alot of people have Big Green Eggs and similar type Kamodo's, i assume this may be of interest if something can be put together without much customisation.

Fingers crossed :)


Thanks!

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Cast-iron skillet in Kamodo, perfect pan temperature.
« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2014, 09:22:21 PM »
That sounds like a reasonable plan. If you find you are still burning pies on the cast iron (I suspect you might if the temp gets much over 550), you might try reversing them and baking on the diffuser. I'm guessing it some sort of ceramic-type material?
Pizza is not bread.

Offline twi252

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Re: Cast-iron skillet in Kamodo, perfect pan temperature.
« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2014, 03:50:22 AM »
Did another cook today with the Lodge 14" pan in my Kamodo (pictured above).

Alot better result this time, with the following grill configuration:

(Top)
Lodge pan
2nd Rack
Heat-Diffuser
Wire grill
(Bottom)

My non-contact IR thermometer reported the surface of the pan at a constant 400 F which matched the Kamodo's dial.

With the diffuser in, it was tougher reaching 500 F which i was aiming for (given the diffuser is blocking all the direct IR..) even with the vents wide open. I'll try another time with some more charcoal and see how that goes (i use natural lump).

Nice leoparding on the underside, however, as expected not much leoparding on the top crust, even though it's closer to the roof of the oven (i also brushed on some EVOO on the crust to encourage spotting but no luck this time..)

The oven had a good hour pre-heat and the Lodge pan around 30 minutes.

The pie was enjoyable, thin-crust as was intended, good holding properties & good structure inside. I used the same recipe as above, with a 2.5 day cold-ferment same as before.

It was a Neapolitan style pie. I've been using a local "strong bread flour" (am in Australia) and might try some of the more speciality flours to see if i can encourage more leoparding on the crust.

Unfortunately we dont get KA flour (at least not without a special order) around these parts, but i'll see what i can get my hands on (more to experiment).

Very happy this time i managed to control the heat of the pan, and was greeted with a nicely coloured base. Now to do the same on the top, and we're golden, literally! :)


Thanks.

Offline Tampa

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Re: Cast-iron skillet in Kamodo, perfect pan temperature.
« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2014, 09:11:53 AM »
Thanks for sharing, TWI.  If you get a great pie, pls post a picture.  I've never cooked on that dragon.
Dave

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Cast-iron skillet in Kamodo, perfect pan temperature.
« Reply #7 on: June 29, 2014, 09:47:19 AM »
Top heat is always the hard part in any grill set-up. Based on pies I've seen, my guess is that a brushing of olive oil will encourage even browning as opposed to leoparding, and doing so may even retard leoparding.  From my experience, leoparding is primarily a function of 1) heat, and 2) formula+fermentation protocol. I suspect the particular flour used is a distant 3rd on the list.

Keep tweaking until you get it.
Pizza is not bread.

scott123

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Re: Cast-iron skillet in Kamodo, perfect pan temperature.
« Reply #8 on: June 29, 2014, 07:14:25 PM »
Twi, what's the distance from the lid to the lodge pan?

What's the diffuser material and thickness?

Offline twi252

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Re: Cast-iron skillet in Kamodo, perfect pan temperature.
« Reply #9 on: June 29, 2014, 11:36:55 PM »
@Scott123. Here's some additional information:

Deflector (basically a 1/4" thick "earthenware" is the only description i can find. Came with the Kamodo. I didnt use the rack in that specific photo although i have that too)
http://i1178.photobucket.com/albums/x373/twobears12/Heat%20Deflector/heatdeflector.png

2nd level grill (the lodge sat on top of this)
http://www.bear-grills.com.au/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/d/o/double_cooking_grill_measurements.jpg

Measurements of the Kamodo itself
http://www.bear-grills.com.au/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/b/e/bear_grills_red_with_measurements_1.jpg


It's hard to measure the distance from the Lodge to the top of the Kamodo (as it's egg shaped), but it's a snug fit if the Lodge isnt centered properly. Centered properly, the lid closes fine.

Measuring handle-to-handle the Lodge is around 15" wide.

From the wire-grill sitting on top of the firebox (level-1) up to the 2nd level, looks like it's 6.7" doing the math and conversions.

I could use the additional rack as pictured in the deflector photo above, to raise the deflector around another 1" closer to the Lodge and further away from the firebox.

I'll try as Craig suggested various combinations of stacking. One thing i'm keen to try although will have to buy another stone is to try something like this:

(Top)
Lodge Pan
2nd Rack
Pizza Stone
Deflector
Deflector wire stand (to gain additional height)
Wire Grill
(Bottom)

With the theory being (as TXCraig suggested) to use the Lodge's reflected heat to cook the top of the pie, assuming i can get them close enough together using combinations of the above.

It's been an interesting exercise nonetheless and have been learning alot about how the Kamodo functions internally, and tweaking it for pie-making.


Thanks!


Offline twi252

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Re: Cast-iron skillet in Kamodo, perfect pan temperature.
« Reply #10 on: July 02, 2014, 10:53:22 PM »
Hey guys,

Will iikely be closing this thread and maybe moving it to a more appropriate area (given that we're not discussing the Lodge anymore..)

After thinking about it a bit, i realised the oil i was using in my dough-mixture wouldnt be conducive to leoparding (as TXCraig pointed out) so i'm trying another dough recipe.

Been reading alot about the reverse-engineering DiFarra's thread, and thought i'd give that a go (a modified version anyway). I'm using a 75/25 mix of Tipo 00 (Mollini Pizzuti ~11.5% protein) and 25% Strong Bread Flour (~11.9% protein) with the following formula:

Flour: 100%
Salt: 2%
Instant yeast: 1.5 %
Water: 65%

No oil in this one to lead to even browning.. Used the KitchenAid to knead this one.

The dough is fermenting (just made it) for a 8-12 hour room-temp rise, then made into balls and put in the refrigerator for a 48-72 hour cold ferment.

Will likely use the same Kamodo arrangement as last time, might try closing the top vent while the pizza is cooking (or open it just slightly to let smoke out) to keep some of the heat to colour the top some more.

I'll report back in a few days to see how it turns out likely with a link to a more appropriate area :) And some photo's if it turns out the way i hope.. :)


Thanks.

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Cast-iron skillet in Kamodo, perfect pan temperature.
« Reply #11 on: July 02, 2014, 11:31:50 PM »
If 1.5% yeast is what you used and not a typo, I'd put it in the fridge now. That's probably 100X more yeast than you need.
Pizza is not bread.

Offline twi252

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Re: Cast-iron skillet in Kamodo, perfect pan temperature.
« Reply #12 on: July 13, 2014, 05:40:13 AM »
Hi folks,

TXCraig - you were right, that dough recipe was flawed :)

Back to my usual recipe which does well, 4-day cold-rise, a neopolitan style pie. I finished these under the broiler (cooked on the Kamodo) to gain some more colour on top.

This was cooked earlier today, and naturally looked alot better when it came out fresh from the kamodo/oven :) Best pies so far however!


Cheers.
« Last Edit: July 13, 2014, 05:56:09 AM by twi252 »