Author Topic: Homemade Oven - any advice??  (Read 5861 times)

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Offline joed

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Homemade Oven - any advice??
« on: December 11, 2009, 09:28:07 AM »
I'm new to this site but have spent the past few months learning about pizza - the NY Style is what I am most interested in but I dont have the kind of heat needed. I am planning on rigging a round charcoal grill as follows:

1. install a LP Burner in the bottom that is adjustable up and down to be able to increase/decrease temp

2. install metal shaft upright in the bottom of grill and put a round metal disk on top of that. The stone will sit on top of that.

3. Cut a rectangular hole out of the side of the grill where I can insert the pizza onto the grill.

4. install a small stone under the hood with a heating element above it to hold some heat for the top.

In theory it sounds good but my questions are:
1. good idea?
2. I am pretty sure i can get the stone to 800 but how hot should the top of the oven be? how can I make that happen?
3. Any other issues you see with this?

thanks for the help. ive learned so much from coming to this site - hopefully I will be able to give back someday!

Joe D


Offline Matthew

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Re: Homemade Oven - any advice??
« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2009, 10:09:08 AM »
I'm new to this site but have spent the past few months learning about pizza - the NY Style is what I am most interested in but I dont have the kind of heat needed. I am planning on rigging a round charcoal grill as follows:

1. install a LP Burner in the bottom that is adjustable up and down to be able to increase/decrease temp

2. install metal shaft upright in the bottom of grill and put a round metal disk on top of that. The stone will sit on top of that.

3. Cut a rectangular hole out of the side of the grill where I can insert the pizza onto the grill.

4. install a small stone under the hood with a heating element above it to hold some heat for the top.

In theory it sounds good but my questions are:
1. good idea?
2. I am pretty sure i can get the stone to 800 but how hot should the top of the oven be? how can I make that happen?
3. Any other issues you see with this?

thanks for the help. ive learned so much from coming to this site - hopefully I will be able to give back someday!

Joe D



http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,4753.0.html

Offline petef

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Re: Homemade Oven - any advice??
« Reply #2 on: December 11, 2009, 07:57:25 PM »
3. Any other issues you see with this?


Joe, I've done some experimentation with using a gas grill for baking pizza.
There is typically no problem getting the stone up to temperature. In fact,
the problem is that the stone gets too hot while the temperature on the
top side is too low. As a result the bottom burns before the cheese and
top side crust has chance to cook properly.

So real challenge is to get the stone to just the right temperature while
maintaining enough heat on the top side to cook the top and bottom
evenly.

Some things that might help to get the bottom & top heat equalized
is to experiment with various thicknesses of stones. Too thin a stone
will rise in temp too quickly. Too thick a stone will take too long to
heat up or not heat up enough.

To get the top side up to temperature you might try limiting the
space above the pizza with another stone and/or insulating the
lid to keep the heat in.

Any which way you go, I advise you to invest in a few thermometers
so that you can accurately monitor the air temp just above the pizza
as well as the stone temperature.  You can use a wood stove
thermometer, an oven thermometer that stands upright, and a
handheld electronic infrared thermometer.

Good luck!

See reply#4 at link below for details of my gas grilled pizza experiment..
http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,7190.0.html

---pete---
« Last Edit: December 11, 2009, 08:02:01 PM by petef »

Offline Tampa

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Re: Homemade Oven - any advice??
« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2010, 06:35:08 PM »
I used the back "rotisserie burner" with good results to independently dial the heat from the top along with a standard burner from below.  The idea is described in the "home oven" section and shown on youtube under "rotisserie pizza grill".

I agree with Pete's comment that minimal volume area seems key to heating the stone quickly and saving energy.

Good luck

Dave

Offline hotsawce

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Re: Homemade Oven - any advice??
« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2010, 07:58:26 PM »
Guys, be on the look out for Pizza Hacker's Franken Weber. I think he's on the verge of mass producing it.

Offline Puzzolento

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Re: Homemade Oven - any advice??
« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2010, 08:41:34 PM »
I wouldn't advise jumping to a nutty Rube Goldberg oven until I was sure I had made the most of my General Electric. Gimmicks can be a real distraction and waste of time. They can take you off on wild goose chases while you should be worrying about your cooking technique and ingredients.

You can make fantastic NY pizza at 550. I do it all the time. I lived in New York, so I'm familiar with good NY pizza. May be tough at 550 if you insist on charring the bottom of the crust, however.

The stone will be hotter if you rest it on the bottom rack and turn the oven on an hour before the pie goes in.

Before you believe anyone who tells you weird equipment is the answer, make sure you've tried his pizza. Talk is cheap, and you can't taste pizza over the Internet, and a pizza that looks gorgeous in a digital photo may taste like Domino's. Moving to unnecessarily strange equipment is often a sign that a person wasn't a good enough cook to make it with the regular stuff. I used to talk about building a wood oven, but now my pizza is so good, I just don't care enough to try.

Pizza is the trickiest food in the world. Nothing about it makes sense, even to a gifted and experienced cook who has no problem with other dishes. Sometimes you'll try a pie you've made, and you'll be sure one ingredient--say the sauce--is the problem, and you'll change it, and it will turn out the cheese or the dough was the problem. Today I made some pies, and people were asking me what my magical seasonings were, and I would have felt stupid trying to make them understand that it was just the right cheese and the right tomatoes. The seasonings were limited to cheap oregano, garlic powder, pepper, and vinegar, but it really did taste like there was a mystery herb in there somewhere.

What I'm trying to say is that you may be convinced your oven is no good, when the real problem is in your recipe, ingredients, or baking method.

Offline hotsawce

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Re: Homemade Oven - any advice??
« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2010, 08:49:01 PM »
^^^

Try telling that to the people that made amazing pies with the LBE  ::)

Sorry, but I think you're way off base here.

Offline Puzzolento

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Re: Homemade Oven - any advice??
« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2010, 08:53:22 AM »
If you can't play a Sam Ash violin, you'll still be a hack after you buy a Stradivarius.

I'm not saying fancy ovens aren't better; maybe they are. But if you can't make good NY pizza on a home oven, your skills are lacking, and they are what you should be trying to improve at this point.

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Homemade Oven - any advice??
« Reply #8 on: February 10, 2010, 05:16:31 PM »
the problem is that the stone gets too hot while the temperature on the
top side is too low. As a result the bottom burns before the cheese and
top side crust has chance to cook properly.

So real challenge is to get the stone to just the right temperature while
maintaining enough heat on the top side to cook the top and bottom
evenly.


I had the same problem but solved it by insulating the top of the grill.

See the post below for the details about what I did. I've been using this set up for a couple years now and am generally happy with the results.

http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,9614.0.html

Craig
« Last Edit: February 10, 2010, 05:23:12 PM by TXCraig1 »
I love pigs. They convert vegetables into bacon.

Offline Puzzolento

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Re: Homemade Oven - any advice??
« Reply #9 on: February 10, 2010, 08:17:47 PM »
Today I made NY-style thin pizza and Sicilian at my church. I made the Sicilian in a convection oven that only goes to 500. I made the thin pizza in a gas oven that only goes to 575. I used Bed Bath & Beyond pizza stones which appear to be made from ordinary clay. They cost $20 each. I used flour from Walmart and cheese from Costco. I don't know the brand of flour. Someone picked it up for me, and I threw the bag out without looking.

Before I made anything, my New-York-raised pastor told a volunteer he would bet him twenty bucks my pizza would be the best he ever ate, and he said it was better than the pizza he was used to in New York. Later, my church's attorney, an Italian raised in New York, tried both kinds of pizza and told me it was like the pizza he used to have up north. He asked for tips so his wife could improve her pizza.

I went to college at Columbia, and I had a lot of great pizza during that time, and I can't say they're mistaken. My pizza may not be the best, but it will do.

I may be ignorant and wrong about ovens, but I am telling the truth about my day.

Something to think about before you go all Buck Rogers on that oven! I might be able to save you some money and time.


Offline hotsawce

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Re: Homemade Oven - any advice??
« Reply #10 on: February 10, 2010, 10:29:25 PM »
I'm not knocking you, but you didn't have a problem jumping to conclusions and knocking methods individuals use here.

It's well documented, and proven, that much of the amazing pizza many of us have had can only be achieved through high temperatures. Your pizza may be "good enough," but some people want to achieve a moistness in the crumb and char on the crust that one cannot achieve by conventional methods.

I can say one thing with certainty. It is my personal opinion that the majority of pizza I've tasted cooked at higher temperatures has blown away pizza I've had cooked at lower temperatures, and this is especially true of the NY pies.

Offline scott123

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Re: Homemade Oven - any advice??
« Reply #11 on: February 11, 2010, 07:08:15 AM »
I think you both have some valid points.

Hotsawce, I agree about high temperature pizza being superior, although, I might not use the term 'high temperature,' exactly.  For me, something like 'short baking time' is more appropriate. You can have a thin stone in a 700 degree oven/LBE that puts out a mediocre 8 minute pie, and, in theory, you can use a thick iron slab in a 400 degree oven that will churn out something majestic in 4 minutes.  It's more about materials and thermodynamics than it is about high temperatures.

Char is a pretty subjective area. I don't subscribe to the concept that great NY pies have to have lots of char, but, in order to achieve a light airy crumb and proper oven spring, they have to be cooked quickly enough to create some char.  If you're not getting at least a little char, you're doing the rest of the crust an injustice, imo. Even if an aspiring pizza maker makes the decision that they want to make pies without any char, I still think they should have equipment that provides them that option, should they ever change their mind.

Puzzolento, the LBE is a respected and cherished weapon in the pizza making arsenal. Passing it off as 'Rube Goldbergian,' is a bit of a low blow, imo.  As to your point that one doesn't need an LBE to make great NY pizza... that I agree with.  If the OP had said something along the lines of "the Neapolitan Style is what I am most interested in" then the LBE would be a great tool towards that end, but, I think, for NY style, it's worth investigating what one's oven can do for you before going the LBE route.

Offline Puzzolento

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Re: Homemade Oven - any advice??
« Reply #12 on: February 11, 2010, 09:06:53 AM »
Please remember, the OP is new to pizza making. It's one thing to get your pie together and then blow a fortune on superior equipment you actually know how to use. It's another to rely on a big expenditure to solve your problems while you're still trying to get your act together.

Offline Puzzolento

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Re: Homemade Oven - any advice??
« Reply #13 on: February 11, 2010, 10:16:30 AM »
By the way, I'm sincerely sorry if I annoyed anyone. It's just that it was so hard for me to learn to make pizza, I hate to see anyone wander off on a tangent before mastering the basics. After all, who would you expect to win a game of one-on-one? The guy who practices fundamentals four hours a day in thirty-dollar shoes, or the fat kid with the Air Jordans?

I'm a former homebrewer. I started off with a bucket, a false bottom, and a 10-gallon pot, and I made unbelievable beer from my own recipes. I read things other homebrewers wrote about their expensive equipment, including big welded "brew sculptures" and so on. I decided I wanted to try this stuff if I ever got serious enough.

When that time came, I realized these toys were very costly and impossible to store, and they had no use apart from brewing. The beer would be no better, it would actually be more work to make it, and cleaning up would be a huge chore. I stuck with my primitive tools, and I continued making astonishing beer without much fuss.

Toys are tempting. I have plenty of them. I thought I could help someone avoid my mistakes.

Offline TFC Rick

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Re: Homemade Oven - any advice??
« Reply #14 on: February 11, 2010, 12:42:50 PM »
Forgive the intrusion to the conversation, but maybe it's the building of the oven that is the goal?

In my case, I built a propane oven with a weber grill not because it would make the worlds greatest pizza, but because it would kill an afternoon and give me something cool to cook on. It cost me 2 bucks for a saw-zall blade and I had to get my extra tank filled.

Any pizza I make is better than take out because I made it. It may be the worst pizza ever, but because I made it, it's better.

I am not a pizza snob. Not saying others in this conversation are, but it's fun to make and therefore makes me and the family happy. Plus, doing it outside keeps the heat out of my house.

So who knows why he wants to build an oven? Maybe it would have been more beneficial to ask "Are you building this oven because you are under the impression it is the only way to make good pizza?"

Rant/

Offline Puzzolento

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Re: Homemade Oven - any advice??
« Reply #15 on: February 11, 2010, 03:16:46 PM »
That's totally understandable. I have a $5000 milling machine, so I can make $3 parts using $20 worth of materials.

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Homemade Oven - any advice??
« Reply #16 on: February 11, 2010, 05:52:10 PM »
Any pizza I make is better than take out because I made it. It may be the worst pizza ever, but because I made it, it's better.

Hallelujah brother!

Craig
I love pigs. They convert vegetables into bacon.

Offline Old School Pizza

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Re: Homemade Oven - any advice??
« Reply #17 on: December 16, 2010, 02:04:01 PM »
Hi, couple of things to consider when making a oven.  What temp to you want to bake at? How long do you want that baking temp to remain inside the oven?   OldSchoolPizza

Offline pdog

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Re: Homemade Oven - any advice??
« Reply #18 on: May 10, 2011, 02:40:29 PM »
Was the goal to get this oven into the 900s?

Simply buying and stacking of fire block, and a weber can get you into the 600s with good results.