I was fortunate enough to be asked to consult for a pizzeria with an earthstone coal fired oven last month. I have worked with a few pizzerias in the past that bought wood fired ovens thinking they wanted to make neapolitan style pizza, only to realize that what they really wanted was a coal oven style bake (something closer to a 700 degree floor temp). As soon as I pulled the first pie out of this coal oven I knew by the texture and the feel of the pizza that there was something different going on. I know the difference was not in the dough formulation or mixing, because I have used the same exact methods and ingredients before with a WFO. While the pizza was really good with wood (similar to a chris bianco style pizza) I have never had this level of crispness before. I was able to raise my hydration because of the drying aspects of the oven, creating a crust that was even more tender in the middle and more crispy on the outside than what I am accustomed to. For me it was the ultimate coal style pizza...and go figure, it was baked with COAL!
Im wondering if you guys can help me figure out why I noticed such a difference with coal. Is it because coal gives off less moisture than wood? All the wfo's I have used so far have been burning kiln dried oak, so I know the wood is about as dry as its going to get.
Is it because these earthstone coal ovens are massive, with a super high dome, and the water vapor coming off of the fire is not contained to a smaller area? (so far I have only used low dome WFO's)
Interestingly the owners have fired the oven with wood, or a combination of wood and coal, and they claim that as soon as one or two logs are put on top of the coal pile the bake changes and the pies are not as crispy on the outside.
Im looking for any thoughts, or discussion on the subject. THANKS!!!