Author Topic: Are Alan Scott ovens suitable for pizza  (Read 15600 times)

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Offline arlo_54

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Are Alan Scott ovens suitable for pizza
« on: August 16, 2006, 11:47:09 AM »
I losing much sleep over my plans for a brick oven in my kitchen. I live in upstate NY and it makes more sense to have an indoor oven. I have very limited space. At a stretch I could probably have and exterior space of 60 x 50 inches. I've been reading this forum for sometime as well as reading Alan Scott's book. I intend to do some bread baking but mostly I want to make pizza. Can you all help me with the features that are the most important in a wood fired brick oven. I don't think that my mason is too experienced in how a brick oven should really work. So it is important that i can explain to him how this oven should be made.
Will i have enough space?
How important is the shape of the oven, rectangle, compared to square, compared to round or oval?
Has anyone had any experience with Alan Scott's ovens in regard to baking pizza?
Would it make more sense to buy an oven kit from someone like earthstone or mugniani?
Thank you all very much.
« Last Edit: August 16, 2006, 11:55:52 AM by arlo_54 »


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Re: Are Alan Scott ovens suitable for pizza
« Reply #1 on: August 16, 2006, 12:22:05 PM »
Hi Arlo,

Alan Scott's ovens are works of art--but they are not efficient, they use about double or triple the wood that an effecient oven would use. They are not designed for pizza--they are bread ovens that do not require the intense heat that pizza does. Sure, you can bake pizza in them, but you'll be using a whole lot of wood to do it. You are much better off going with an oven that is made for pizza and that will allow you to bake bread and other items with a whole lot less wood.

If you are looking at kits to assemble outdoors Earthstone or Mugnani will probably be your best bet. I've had an Earthstone, that was assembled from a kit and moved twice, for 17 years and it works great--it is very effecient. Mugnani ovens are OK for home use, but I do not recommend them for commercial, the quality of their refractory material is not as good. But, for home use, it should work. I have a giant Earthstone in my restaurant and it really kicks butt. I highly recommend the Earthstone from my own personal experience.

And in answer to your question regarding square vs round, for pizza, where you are going to crank the ovens upwards of 850 degrees--round is best for effecient thermodynamics. For bread baking where temperatures rarely go beyond 475 degrees and the heat is indirect, the shape is less important. Effeciency is really important because who wants to pump more cords of wood into an oven than necessary. So, bear this in mind when you research ovens. Both Earthstone and Mugnani have web sites.

Good Luck

Offline Fio

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Re: Are Alan Scott ovens suitable for pizza
« Reply #2 on: August 16, 2006, 12:32:26 PM »
This debate has raged for quite a while.  You can do a search on this forum (actually, check out my thread where I confronted the same issue) and find both sides of the issue.  I decided to build a round pizza oven and I'm SO glad I did.

To echo Evelyne's comments, I can get my round oven fired up to temp in about and hour and a half, two hours tops.   Once it's hot, I don't need much wood to keep it hot - maybe one piece every 20 minutes or so.   Commercially-made cast refractory ovens take even less time to heat up.   Contrast that with an Alan Scott oven, which I believe takes much longer and uses a LOT more wood.  You are heating up a LOT more thermal mass. 

Check out fornobravo.com.  They have an entire forum devoted to building and using round pizza ovens.  It's fantastic. 


If you are still interested in an Alan Scott oven, I'll sell you my bread builders book and set of Alan Scott plans really cheap.  >:D

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 arlo_54

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Re: Are Alan Scott ovens suitable for pizza
« Reply #3 on: August 16, 2006, 01:20:29 PM »
Thank you for the info and the link. I will do the search you sugested aswell. This forum is the best. ;D

Offline Frankie G

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Re: Are Alan Scott ovens suitable for pizza
« Reply #4 on: May 17, 2008, 11:09:09 AM »
I have no problems with my AS oven.  I do fire it for 2 -2 1/2 hours... but I think it is becuase the cavity is larger...

I love my oven... works great.

Frankie G


Offline wingo

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Re: Are Alan Scott ovens suitable for pizza
« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2009, 06:38:27 AM »
Hey Fio, Gidday from downunder,

Just wondering if you still have those plans for sale??????

I guess if anyone on the forum has some?



Offline Davydd

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Re: Are Alan Scott ovens suitable for pizza
« Reply #6 on: June 06, 2009, 05:54:22 PM »
I just finished the 3 days hands on Ovencrafting - Building the Wood-fired Bread Oven course at the North House Folk School in Grand Marais, MN. The course is based on Alan Scott's designs and Alan Scott once taught the course there. I also baked a pizza during the Saturday night pizza open house in one of the Alan Scott designed ovens (attached photo).

The oven's are designed for bread baking but pizza results can be superb. The brick oven we built was 32" x 36" inside. It was designed and capable of baking 16 artisan loaves of bread at one time and over 6 batches on one firing. We had the oven up at 850 degrees for pizza with the wood embers still inside. The embers are removed first for bread baking. The next morning the oven was still over 400 degrees and if you were to fire just once per week the oven may not drop below 200 degrees. So, for home use I suspect they are a bit of overkill, at least the size we built. The principles of the design and construction are sound and worth knowing. Last year I took an earthen oven building course based on Kiko Denzer's designs. They may be more suitable for home pizza baking.

Here is a photo trip report I wrote up and posted in the Roadfood.com forums you might find of value showing not only the oven building but my culinary tour of the restaurants in the area.


Here is a photo slide show site I found of the same exact course at North House Folk School conducted by Alan Scott himself 6 years earlier in 2003. It is pretty thorough with pictures.


Offline BurntFingers

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Re: Are Alan Scott ovens suitable for pizza
« Reply #7 on: June 22, 2009, 02:43:55 PM »
I think so.  Wood is not an issue for me.  We get loads of windfalls after every storm and clean pine and fir cut offs locally.  I built my oven using the photos and plans in the Alan Scott book a few years ago.  Needless to say there were some inconsistencies in the plans in the book. So I re-drew the plans for myself on a large sheet of graph paper and made my own modifications to make everything fit right. I changed the way he used the rebar in the hearth floor  to a more robust method of support and expansion. If I were to do it again I would modify the way the chimney sits to allow for more expansion.  I would do it again it is worth the effort. If I made it indoors I would surely use this design as it would help heat the whole house in winter. 

We make mostly pizza in the oven and want to make more breads.  I find that I don't fire it unless I am making 20 or more pizze.  So we only fire it for parties or family gatherings.  It is a labor of love.  Homemade mozzarella, homegrown tomatoes, homemade wine, good flour and friends. 

Offline nyyankees325

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Re: Are Alan Scott ovens suitable for pizza
« Reply #8 on: September 06, 2010, 11:19:08 PM »
me and my dad built an Alan scott oven and i really wouldn't recommend it if your gonna be making pizza it takes to long to heat up

Offline Tscarborough

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Re: Are Alan Scott ovens suitable for pizza
« Reply #9 on: September 12, 2010, 12:56:02 PM »
The problem with the AS oven is not the shape, it is the design.  I built a barrel vault oven, but built it to Forno Bravo specifications as to mass and insulation and it works extremely well.  If I am just planning on cooking a batch or 2 of pizzas (4-8), I use about 2 cubic foot of wood and can cook at above 900 in about an hour.  If I am planning using the entire heat profile (pizza, bread the next morning, meat in the evening or the next day) I generally burn 4 cubic feet over 2 hours.  it takes 5 or 6 full days for the oven to drop to ambient.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2010, 01:04:14 PM by Tscarborough »