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  1. #1
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    Default Teach me to pizza oven

    Hi all

    Our new place has a pizza oven.
    I guess inside diameter is 900 to 1000mm, I'm not sure what it's built with, but I doubt it was a DIY job. It looks like a precast unit and the floor has tiles of some sort, not bricks. The flue pipe is 150mm diameter, 1 to 1.5m long with a Chinese cap on top.
    There is a crack on the outside but it's not very deep, I still have to fix this up at some point.

    I tried it out a couple times now, but think I'm doing something wrong since its not getting hot enough to my liking. Google mentions 300 to 400 degrees and though I don't have a thermometer yet, I know it's not getting close to that.

    I read you should use quicker burning wood like blue gum or wattle, hot burning flames being more important than long lasting coals and I actually tried both.

    This past weekend we wanted to bake a bread, I made a fire, eventually I added probably 2 bags of questionable bushveld mix plus a bag of Sekelbos, but it was as if I only had the heat from the coals eventually, just like I'd have if making that same fire outside, and no heat from the oven.

    A while back I made fire with blue gum, quite a big bundle and in between I also added a bag of Sekelbos, it was probably 1.5 to 2.5 hours before we made pizza, but it wasn't hot enough, each pizza took quite a while slowly warming up rather than just taking a minute or 2.

    What am I doing wrong, must I make fire for longer, use different wood or is the oven broken?

    BTW The thing pulls like a steam train, no smoke out the front. Also that crack I mentioned, if I put my hand there I can't feel any heat, so I doubt any heat is escaping. The entire outside can be touched while a fire is going, except for the flue pipe of course. Is too much heat maybe escaping via the flue pipe and can I do something about this, a longer pipe?
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Teach me to pizza oven

    We make pizza quite often in our pizza oven. Generally I make the fire two hours before and keep adding wood till there is plenty coals in the centre of the pizza oven (to heat up the base). I then move all the coals to the one side and add smallish logs on the opposite side of the oven (to heat them up). Once the pizza is ready to go in I add one of the pre heated logs on the coals and as soon as it flames up in goes the pizza for 30 seconds, rotate, another 30 seconds and done. If we make a lot of pizzas I just add a piece of wood to the non coal side between pizzas and as the pizza is ready to go in put the wood on the coals and repeat till all is done. The heat from the oven stays hot and you actually want the flames to arch over the pizza as that is what cooks it and the heat from below where the fire was initially made.
    Kenneth

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  4. #3
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    Default Re: Teach me to pizza oven

    The key is to ''flash'' cook the base but not burn the toppings and thats how a pizza stone (heat up the stone) and pizza oven works.

    Try building your fire in one spot and then push the coals away and place your pizzas there. The base shouldnt take more than about 5 minutes to cook.

    I converted my first Weber to a pizza oven with one of those pizza inserts. It only holds one stone which is a bind but the rate of production counters this with a pizza every 5 to 10 minutes. The surrounding dome is never more than about 220 to 240c but even as the coals lose heat, it still takes about 10 minutes at 180c as the stone retains (being above the coal basket) heat.

    Unfortunately, I havent measured the stone temp so I can tell you the temp differential between the stone and the surrounding dome.

    In short, it sounds as though the base temperature is the issue, not the surrounding temp.

    PM Dudley, he know his way around a pizza oven.
    Last edited by Estee; 2023/04/02 at 06:37 AM.
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  5. #4
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    Default Re: Teach me to pizza oven

    Hi.

    The fire needs to be bigger and burn for longer than you think.
    Make in center of oven and keep adding 2 or 3 logs at a time.
    Look at the ovens roof - if it is dark black - oven is cool, if it is grey it is starting to warm up, if it is white it is hot. Heat burns the soot away.

    Start placing a few logs to one side to dry out and heat up, will burst into flame when you need them.
    Scrape coals to one side, drying out logs to the other.
    Get copper pipe about a meter long and use to blow all ash from the center floor.

    Oven has no light so as you are about to cook a pizza, put a drying out log onto the coals, it will flame up and give you light and a jump in temp.
    Do you pizza and just before you take it out, offer it up to the roof of the oven for 30 seconds. Heat is up to 600 Degc up there.
    Total pizza time is usually less than 90 seconds.
    If there is a break in pizzas, scrape coals over the center floor to heat up again.

    When you done playing pizza man, use the cooling oven for bread or a slow cook casserole dish.

    Note:
    Putting logs onto coals does not always allow the wood to burst into flame as the fire battles to breathe..

    Think of a dollos in the PE harbour or a 2nd world war tank trap and try to find yourself a small piece of steel shaped liked this.
    Weld a few angle irons to make a sturdy x shape.
    Put this in the coals side of your oven and when you offer up new wood, place it on this so air can get all around the wood. Burns quicker.
    I use a very old front door boot scraper and boot remover. Funny angle iron deal, moves with me from pizza over to pizza oven.

    Have fun. Lots of good programmes on You Tube.
    Steak in the oven is divine.
    I made a 2 chicken rotisserie for my pizza oven. Works a bomb.
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  7. #5
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    Default Re: Teach me to pizza oven

    When you read the temp of the oven remember most time that is the temp the floor must be at, not the inside heat. If your floor is cold, and the oven hot you will end up with a raw base and burned toppings.

    I have the Avin, and still battling to get it right, I need to start heating the oven at least 2 hours prior to get the floor hot enough. ]

    Then the dough or base you using also makes a massive difference, you need to play with that too, some might need less heat than others.

    I bought one of these to test the temp:
    https://www.takealot.com/infrared-la...r/PLID68577628

    Edit, I am probably doing something wrong, but for me it's been the most frustating experience ever.
    Last edited by Dirk; 2023/04/11 at 07:10 PM.

  8. #6
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    Default Re: Teach me to pizza oven

    Oh, and it is usable for a lot more than just pizza!

    Roast, bread, curry, lamb schanks etc.
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  10. #7
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    Default Re: Teach me to pizza oven

    … so I gather the Pizza Oven Floor is key
    which begs the question
    whats the ideal floor/slab/surface to use ?

    ie that
    Readily heats up
    has high & lasting heat content
    doesnt crack , disintegrate
    etc etc

    Is it just a plain clay-stock floor
    and if so what cement/mortar is used ?
    Last edited by BushNomad; 2023/04/12 at 09:03 AM.
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  11. #8
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    Default Re: Teach me to pizza oven

    Best option is probably fire bricks, that is what is in mine, ontop of a concrete base.

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  13. #9
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    Default Re: Teach me to pizza oven

    We use small sticks, around the diameter of your thumb as those give the most flame (higher surface area to volume ratio than normal braaihout). After starting the fire in the middle, move it to one side. The flames must arch up and over the centre of the roof. That seems to work best for us.

  14. #10
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    Default Re: Teach me to pizza oven

    Please point me in the right direction. Where can I buy fire bricks around East London?

  15. #11
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    Default Re: Teach me to pizza oven

    Quote Originally Posted by Kennedy View Post
    Please point me in the right direction. Where can I buy fire bricks around East London?
    Hi. Builders warehouse sell them.

    Cheers.
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  16. #12
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    Default Re: Teach me to pizza oven

    Get the oven up to Temperature is key to successful cooking in a wood fired oven. There are many ways to skin a cat, but I have attached my method of developing a fire. We often put Pork hocks or full chickens in for an overnight slow cook after we have used the oven for a meal. Short Rib or brisket is also usually very good in an overnight cook.

    We have alot of good family time with Grand - Children. We let them make up the own recipes and cook. Always check floor temp if you want to do a second round of pizzas. We do 3 at a time. We aim for the floor to be around 300C.

    Do not be afraid to use a tagine for your middle eastern recipes and we prefer to use a perforated pan for pizzas. the pan is easy to spin in the oven to get all round heat.

    Enjoy
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  18. #13
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    Default Re: Teach me to pizza oven

    Quote Originally Posted by Dirk View Post
    Oh, and it is usable for a lot more than just pizza!

    Roast, bread, curry, lamb schanks etc.
    Hi Dirk, this looks like the oven from "Avin" - pronounced "Oven" (afrikaans version). One of my best investments I have every done!

    Thanks for the pics - looks awesome!

    Kind regards Edwin
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  19. #14
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    Default Re: Teach me to pizza oven

    Thought I'd update this thread after last night, it seams I've got the pizza oven figured out now, my last 2 attempts was perfect in terms of heat and cooking time.

    I make fire in the center for 2 hours, eventually using up around 2 bags of Sekelbos. When it's time for pizza I move the fire to the sides, but not everything to one side, I split it between the 2 sides and the back. Then I put a piece or 2 of faster burning wood on each side, wood which will start flaming up, the previous time was Bluegum, last night was Jacaranda I think.
    I then leave the oven for another 10 minutes or so to allow the wood to nicely flame up, then put in the first pizza. One minute and a quick turn for another minute and it's done, one of them was in a little longer last night and it even burned a bit, so I think I've got the heat sorted.

    If moving your fire away, how do you guys clean the floor of your oven before you put in the pizza? Also, someone said I should gooi some flower on the floor, but the flower just burst in to flame and then burns away, is this the idea or do I just skip the flower entirely?

    P.S. What can I use to fill a crack on the outside of the oven, will tile cement work or is there a specific high heat product I should rather use?

    P.P.S Next time I want to try put in something afterwards to slow cook over night, a chicken or something, how do you guys do this, do you leave the oven for a hour or 2 to cool down a bit after doing the pizzas, or do you just put it in straight away? Also do you close the front of the oven with something, or do you just leave it open?
    Last edited by bigboy529; 2023/10/22 at 05:31 PM.
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