A D V E R T I S E M E N T


Author Topic: Anybody ever used compressed hardwood sawdust in the wood-fired oven?  (Read 1604 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Piece-a man

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 4
  • Location: Texas
  • I Love Pizza!
Small write-up in Bon Appetit this month about a few restaurants using this in their wood fired ovens.  I doubt they give the flavor profile of firewood…but might be nice to supplement with this product…. hot-bricks.com is the company they profiled.  Thanks, Todd

Offline Bill/SFNM

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 6322
  • Location: Santa Fe, NM
Re: Anybody ever used compressed hardwood sawdust in the wood-fired oven?
« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2016, 08:32:39 AM »
The high temps and short baking times for Neapolitan-style pizzas in a WFO mean there is really no flavor contributed from the wood. At least I have never experienced it. The only role of the wood to provide heat, much of which comes from direct contact between the deck and the bottom of the pizza or from radiation from the coals and flames. Even if any aromatics survived high temps (they don't) there is too little time for the flavor to be absorbed by the pizza.

You should use whatever source of fuel gets your oven hot and then provides a nice bed of coals and flames for balanced baking and steady heat - especially important for longer baking sessions. Compressed sawdust may be an economical source of heat, but I wonder if it will leave a nice coal bed.   

Offline z-man

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 39
  • Location: Los Gatos, Ca
Re: Anybody ever used compressed hardwood sawdust in the wood-fired oven?
« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2016, 06:27:54 PM »
Well I just finished a pizza tour in SF last weekend and saw Anthony Mangieri using it at Una Pizza Napoletana. However, he used it for instant heat to cook each pie and create fire across the dome. I heard this being done in Italy but never actually saw this first hand. It was so cool cause instead of using so much wood to create flames across the dome he throws sawdust on the coals then launches the pie. The sawdust ignites for a little over a minute about the time it takes to cook a pie. Once your oven gets up to heat all you have to do it just throw a handful of sawdust for each pie you cook.

Offline TXCraig1

  • Supporting Member
  • *
  • Posts: 27600
  • Location: Houston, TX
  • Pizza is not bread.
    • Craig's Neapolitan Garage
Re: Anybody ever used compressed hardwood sawdust in the wood-fired oven?
« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2016, 06:33:02 PM »
The OP is referring to burning logs made from compressed hardwood sawdust instead of regular wood logs - not burning sawdust itself. http://hot-bricks.com/
"We make great pizza, with sourdough when we can, baker's yeast when we must, but always great pizza."  
Craig's Neapolitan Garage

Offline Bill/SFNM

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 6322
  • Location: Santa Fe, NM
Re: Anybody ever used compressed hardwood sawdust in the wood-fired oven?
« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2016, 07:04:58 PM »
The old sawdust trick is for show. Most of the energy released from a handful of sawdust isn't going to hit the pizza. Convection heat from flames is going up and away from the pizza. Radiation dropping off with the square distance will be insignificant. I use hardwood sawdust in my cold smoker. When it ignites, you can hold your hand right next to the flames and you won't feel a thing. I use it occasionally in the WFO if I want more light to better see how the bake is progressing. 

A D V E R T I S E M E N T


Offline z-man

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 39
  • Location: Los Gatos, Ca
Re: Anybody ever used compressed hardwood sawdust in the wood-fired oven?
« Reply #5 on: September 02, 2016, 09:57:17 PM »
Makes sense. But sure looked like it worked pretty good for him although I didn't see him cook a pie without doing it so not sure it was just the oven itself but he specifically stated the fire going over the dome and on top of the pizza from the sawdust made a difference. He was also pretty fanatical about the type of wood he used and how each pie changed the taste and texture of the finished product. He tested various woods over the course of a year and a half making pies everyday in the restaurant. I have never been able to taste the difference using different woods but he said it was more how the wood burned that changes the way the pie cooks and tastes.  I will be getting my hands on some sawdust and different hardwoods and try it for myself as that is the only real true test anyway. By the way he is very nice and spent around a half an hour talking pizza with me and sharing secrets in the middle of service which I was super grateful for.  Here was one of his marg pizzas.
« Last Edit: September 02, 2016, 10:10:01 PM by z-man »

Offline Bill/SFNM

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 6322
  • Location: Santa Fe, NM
Re: Anybody ever used compressed hardwood sawdust in the wood-fired oven?
« Reply #6 on: September 02, 2016, 10:36:46 PM »
Two separate issues: 1) heat from combustion of sawdust and 2) flavors from byproducts of combustion. I am certain that #1 is not significant. But whether AM is able to capture some of the aromatics before they are destroyed in the heat is possible.   

Offline TXCraig1

  • Supporting Member
  • *
  • Posts: 27600
  • Location: Houston, TX
  • Pizza is not bread.
    • Craig's Neapolitan Garage
Re: Anybody ever used compressed hardwood sawdust in the wood-fired oven?
« Reply #7 on: September 03, 2016, 10:58:00 AM »
UPN (back when he was in NYC) was one of the first great "Neapolitan" pizzas I tasted. It inspired me to spend a considerable amount of time working on a faithful reverse engineering of his dough http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=10237.0 My vision of Neapolitan pizza has changed a great deal since then, notwithstanding it will always be pizza I remember fondly which is probably why I have no desire to go to UPN/SF.

Like Bill, I tend to doubt the sawdust does much for the heat and may be largely for show though I think there may be another reason I'll discuss below. In addition to the reasons Bill mentions for the added heat to be relatively trivial, the burning sawdust puts off considerable amounts of black carbon soot and smoke that hang in the air above the pizza - you can literally see a layer above the pizza - and this absorbs a lot of IR from the dome preventing it from reaching the pizza.

I don't think he always uses sawdust. He didn't do it when I was at his place in NYC. Seems like I've seen more than one video where he doesn't add sawdust. I'm wondering if he does it when the oven is underheated trying to add some additional heat? The pizza in your picture above looks like the oven might not have been very hot. You can see there was very little top heat on that pie. Almost all the black on the top of the cornicione is burned sugars from the sauce and not charring of the dough.

On multiple occasions, I have tested different woods (oak, pecan, and mesquite) using dough from the same batch, in two WFOs running side-by-side - burning only one wood for the entire firing. I'd argue that this is "the only real true test." Granted the two WFOs are quite different, so it's not exactly scientific. Notwithstanding, I'm very skeptical that the choice of hardwood makes a perceptible difference.  There are plenty of factors that are literally many orders of magnitude more important - oven temperature and heat saturation, and dough ripeness and temperature being just a few.
« Last Edit: September 03, 2016, 10:59:34 AM by TXCraig1 »
"We make great pizza, with sourdough when we can, baker's yeast when we must, but always great pizza."  
Craig's Neapolitan Garage

A D V E R T I S E M E N T


 

wordpress