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  • How hot can it go

    I have a casa 90 and this weekend I got the floor of the oven near the coals up to 850. I assume I can get this higher. What have others been able to get the floor temp up to? I need it even higher for a 90 second pizza.

  • #2
    flame on!

    With an infrared thermometer I've taken my brick oven to 850, I get 90 seconds with that temperature. I don't think you need to be concerned about any danger going higher if you have properly cured the oven, but goodness, will you still have room for pizza with a fire that big ?


    • #3
      Hey Arthur,

      I would recommend working on consistently reaching and retaining 750F- 800F as something to shoot for -- which takes a lot of practice. That will give you 90 second plus pizzas, and the ability to reliably cook multiple pizza's in a row for your family and friends.

      I have been concerned for some time that the so-called 900?F "goal" has caused a lot of confusion. It's just marketing by a subset of VPN, and a few misguided individuals -- and it's very misleading. Consistently cooking at 900-1000?F is something that very, very few restaurants do -- including most of those who claim they do. A vast majority of the Pizzerias in Italy and in the states, including the famous ones who claim VPN, are cooking between 700?F-800?F. All of the mainstream Italian commercial ovens recommend cooking at 800F, and the major American-made commercial oven has trouble holding 700F. My favorite was the U.S. wood-fired pizzeria that told me that the oven was over 800F, and the pizzas cooked in 5-7 minutes. I've been testing wood-fired Italian pizzerias with my infrared thermometer, and not one I've seen comes close to 900F. They might hit 900F while firing, but not cooking. And these are large, expensive commercial ovens.

      But this is not a negative. Cooking at 750F-800F is great. It's what you want.

      There are even Pizza Napoletana associations in Italy that recommend 800F as the target -- so the 900F figure itself is questionable. The problem I see is that the high temperature level is something that is easy to describe (as they said in Spintap, mines goes to 11), so it has caught on. But there is so much more involved in great pizza making.

      My view is that you should enjoy your oven, make great pizza, and don't worry over the last few 50?F. Your Casa oven will perform wonderfully.

      I hope this is helpful.

      Last edited by james; 10-28-2006, 03:52 PM.
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      • #4
        Just to add a little to James' excellent dissertation on 900 degree ovens, when I was reading hearth temps of 850 the point between done and badly burnt was about 5 seconds. I aim for 750-800 for good pizza - usually a bit over 90 seconds, but my guests have never complained!


        • #5
          Thanks for that Maver. Here is a link to an interesting little site on Pizza Napoletana from a pizzeria owner and trainer in Salerno. He's a self-described expert on Pizza Napoletana , and he recommends cooking at 750?F.

          There are couple a short videos that are fun to watch, so you should click around some.


          Last edited by james; 10-29-2006, 07:14 AM.
          Pizza Ovens
          Outdoor Fireplaces


          • #6
            Another "log" on the fire

            Here's a fun photo. It's a commerical oven with a thermometer, set to Farenheit -- reading 700?F.
            Pizza Ovens
            Outdoor Fireplaces


            • #7
              Thanks James, great videos.

              I have been getting 2 minute pies fairly consistently. This usually has a temp of 750-850 by the coals, but I am running into the problem with the overall hearth temp. My underside of the pizza isn't as cooked as I'd like it to be which tells me that I'm putting my pizza way too close to the coals (I put it right up to them) to get the 2 minute pie, but I don't have the overall heat of the oven up enough. The hearth on the other side of the 14"-15" pizza is only about 650. I may need to move the pizza away from the coals a bit and try and get the oven (floor) hotter.


              • #8
                Hi Arthur,

                This makes sense. How long are you firing the oven, and are you building up a good bed of coals to fully heat the cooking floor? Did you see my graphic on filling your oven with heat? One way of thinking about this is that commercial ovens are fired continually, so you need to give your home oven time time to really absorb heat so that is can maintain its high heat.

                I find that keeping a good fire not only heats the dome, but also drives heat across the cooking floor.

                One small thing. A traditional Italian pizza is about 11" (one per person), which is also part of of the fast-baking philosophy. That, along with the thinner ingredients and lean dough, are parts of the style. If you go heavier, you won't get that Napoletana feeling. One last thing. How heavy is your dough ball? Does the weight seem in line with the fast bake theory?
                Pizza Ovens
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                • #9
                  One thought. Although untraditional, you might try using a metal strap (like the ash gaurd sold in the FB store) to help get more even baking. I suspect that direct radiation from your coals is searing the top of your pizza ahead of the crust - especially right next the coals. Blocking some of this radiant heat with a metal strap may even things out. Try getting the hearth up to temp longer first per James' suggestion, but if you are cooking right up to the coals you might also want to try blocking the radiant heat. My pizza is also in the 2 minute range, probably 2" 15', but the crust takes a nice char and I usually raise the top to the dome to finish browning the toppings.


                  • #10
                    I typically fire up the oven for over an hour (maybe 1 hr 15 minutes) with the top of the dome almost fully white. Then I push the coals to one side and add some more wood. Once the fire is going across the dome (almost to the other side) I put my pizza in.

                    I typically use a 1 pound dough for a 15+" pie. This is a pretty thin pizza.

                    The metal strap idea is interesting although I'll probably try raising the heat after the coals are on the side and move my pizza a bit away. I too raise the pizza for a few seconds to the top of the dome before taking out.

                    It all seems to be working fine except ( )my floor doesn't seem to be retaining enough heat. I do have 3.5-4 inches of vermiculite underneath and now have full insulation on the dome as well.


                    • #11
                      I am getting a little better performance though we seem to be using the same methodology (that is, burn for 1 hour, push the fire over and keep the flames licking across the dome- that seems to be the key). But I am only using 6oz dough balls and making 10" pizzas...

                      I put the pizzas midway between the coals and the dome, right under the reflected heat from the flames licking across the dome. I rotate the pizzas twice. I think that extra distance from the glowing coals that the smaller pizza allows may help let the bottom crust bake before the top and ourter crust are burned...

                      Hope that helps!

                      My Oven Thread:


                      • #12
                        I have a couple of thoughts.

                        First, how many fires have you had? I think you are probably still drying out the oven -- and it will continue to get better. You are not venting heat out the bottom. Also, for a while, try longer firings before you cook. If you are going to cook a longer series of pizzas and shoot for the short-bake/high heat style, give the oven a two hour firing for the next couple of times. It will help fully dry the hearth, and give you a good data point for how hot the floor is getting and how much heat it is retaining before you start to cook.

                        Are you shooting your infrared at different spots on the floor after you have moved the fire and between your various pizzas? You can actually drive up the heat of the floor with a good fire -- while still continuing to cook pizzas.

                        Last, have you bought the FB log holder? It elevates the wood and gives you good airflow and a better fire, which is better at drive heat across the cooking floor.

                        It will all comes together.
                        Pizza Ovens
                        Outdoor Fireplaces


                        • #13
                          I have probably had 6-10 fires.

                          When you say longer fires, I assume you mean longer with the wood in the middle of the oven?

                          I am shooting my infrared at different spots. Before I move the fire over to the side I typically wait until I get 850 or so near the coals (which currently takes about 1 hour), but the temp varies. After moving the coals to the side I wait until it heats up again (throwing some more wood) and gets to 850 by the coals and then it goes down to 650/550 much further away.

                          I have not bought the log holder yet, but thinking about it

                          Originally posted by james
                          First, how many fires have you had?

                          Also, for a while, try longer firings before you cook.

                          Are you shooting your infrared at different spots on the floor after you have moved the fire and between your various pizzas?

                          Last, have you bought the FB log holder?


                          • #14
                            This really makes sense. I think you are still effectively curing the oven. This will be fine.

                            Yes, by long I would give the oven a good two hour burn in the center before you push it over. That will help dry out the oven and drive more heat into the floor. You will definitely see better hearth heat than you are experiencing now. Also, are your fires pretty beefy?

                            Once you have done the longer firing a couple of time, you can cut back and see where it works best. One more thing, I have a friend/customer who fires his Artigiano for hours before cooking, just so it operates at peak performance. He's a perfectionist and keep his oven well fired and hot is part of his routine. Keep going and you will find what it best for you.

                            The log holder is only $25. I made a posting on using it in an indoor Alan Scott oven (where it is almost impossible to keep the cooking floor hot) and it really did help. I did with and without tests with my infrared.

                            The next time you are cooking, watch the floor temperature, and if it drops off, build up the fire, and re-test the floor to see that you can bring the floor temperature back up. That will be a right sign.
                            Pizza Ovens
                            Outdoor Fireplaces


                            • #15
                              The floor (hearth) will acquire higher temperatures in places in which the coals are not over them. Meaning, it is better to start the fire near of the entry, move and left the fire grow up in the center and displace it to the side or rear (depends on your like) and feed up there.

                              I use to Excel control the oven temperatures and all the graphs shows that the hearth in which the pizza is going to be baked needs to be clean and without fire to reach the highest temperatures.

                              Of course, big fire and white dome J

                              I am sure that the fire holder is a good tool to achieve that.

                              Otherwise, it could be better do not forget that the coals directly over the hearth are going to ?clean? the floor from last time toppings or fat dropped.