No announcement yet.

28" homebrew cast oven in walled enclosure Belgium

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Hi Johannes,

    Thanks for you kind offer, I live near Mechelen so not really that close to Sint Truiden...

    I would gladly give you some cooking tips, but I'm just as new to wood fired cooking than you are!
    Do you have any pictures from your build?

    one tiny thing I already learned is that it seems really important to always keep a fire with flames going as your pizza is in the oven. without flames it seems to take just a little longer, and the balance between 'fresh' topping (not dried out) and crusty and airy underside is difficult to achieve...

    I plan to cook pizzais in the oven 3 times in august: once for 6 people, once for 8 people, and one real pizza party for 30+ people.

    No doubt I will make a lot of mistakes along the way and learn from them as well.

    I'll post my misadventures and successes here
    My 70cm (28") build:


    • My tip when cooking for large numbers is …take your time and dont drink to much!

      The main issue i have suffered comes from building the pizza to early or having a queue of pizza waiting in line, then the sauce can soak into the base and that can make it stick to the peel.
      If that happens then the pizza can go topsy-turvy into the oven or even.. completely up side down.. and then you have a very sticky floor that is not easy to clean up.

      These sort of things can happen when you find yourself under stress and try to speed up the process so like i say… take it slow and keep calm.


      • Originally posted by fox View Post
        ...having a queue of pizza waiting in line, then the sauce can soak into the base and that can make it stick to the peel.
        If that happens then the pizza can go topsy-turvy into the oven or even.. completely up side down.. and then you have a very sticky floor that is not easy to clean up.
        yes, that's a golden tip!
        My 70cm (28") build:


        • It is a trick to get the bottom crust right and the top right at the same time. I watch the bottom closely until it is just right, rotating with a banjo peel against the open flame then if the top needs some more work I do what is called "doming" raise the pizza on the peel towards the top of the dome where it is really hot, kind of like using a broiler. It will brown the cheese nicely and only takes very little time. I have both wood and aluminum loading peels and I find the the good old cheap wood ones don't stick like my expensive Italian steel peel.
          Last edited by UtahBeehiver; 07-19-2021, 07:08 AM.
          Google Photo Album []


          • hi Kris,

            Mechelen is not really near, but i have friends there i'l probably visit next month.... if you want i can drop it of, just pm me,

            Thanks for the tips, i have noticed the same thing, i have done pizza for 8ppl 2 times now, i did flamkuchen for 6... also baked sourdough bread and siu yuk (kantonese crispy pork belly) in the oven, works verry wel... ik have a crack in the entrance, but none in the dome far :-)
            this is my oven;
            Click image for larger version

Name:	oven3.jpg
Views:	648
Size:	432.4 KB
ID:	440181 Click image for larger version

Name:	oven4.jpg
Views:	555
Size:	490.9 KB
ID:	440182 Click image for larger version

Name:	oven5.jpg
Views:	557
Size:	367.3 KB
ID:	440183

            its an oval shaped (85cm/120cm innside) flatend dome... firebrick but with a coating of vermiculite concrete on top, then, the entire enclosure was filled with a mix of vermiculite and argex (expanded clay)... the supports for the stone and the doorhandle i forged myself, everything was made from repurposed materials (the firebricks cam out an old bakery oven)
            i had her up to 550c and after 24h it still had 180.... she's lager than a usual pizza oven, because i like to bake bread, and would like to do pig roasts in her.


            • Your oven looks great, and 180C after 24 hrs is really good!

              I gladly accept your offer, will pm you!
              My 70cm (28") build:


              • Here’s my report on the little pizza try out (11 pizza’s) we did yesterday for the big one (30 pizza’s) in 2 weeks time.

                First off I’m really pleased with the oven temperature performance compared to the previous firings (this is the 4th or 5th i think): I see a noticeable improvement over the 2nd firing:

                45 mins: dome starting to clear
                90 mins: dome completely clear
                18 hours after firing (this morning) floor temp 80C - 176 F

                <30 mins: dome starting to clear
                60 mins: dome completely clear
                80 mins: floor temp everywhere +400C
                12 hours after fire out floor temp 160C – 320 F (uninsulated door)

                I guess this is due to 2 factors: the oven drying out more with each firing (as I heard on here), and me firing the oven a little more ‘aggressive’: whereas before I would start with a mini fire, slowly building up, I now loaded more wood to begin an built up a big fire asap. Happy to report no new cracks on first sighting.

                Made 11 dough balls by hand the evening before and proofed at room temp for 22 hrs:
                Water: 987g
                Flour: 1763g (1000g tipo 00 flour and 763g regular flour because that was all I had)
                Salt: 39g
                Yeast: 0.55g

                Good dough, half the battle won

                Lessons learned from cooking:

                This time I created a much bigger flaming fire going at the side when cooking the pizza’s.
                The first pizza we threw in immediately created a big grey smoke, this was probably the flour instantly burning, the floor was maybe a little hot at +430C - +800F. seeing the smoke we feared it would be turned into charcoal immediately but it turned out great and was done in about 60 – 90 seconds I think, didn’t time.

                I kept the bigger fire going all through the next 10 pizza’s by regularly loading wood, and as a result the floor temp constantly stayed about at around 400C - 750F. the side of the pizza facing the fire was more like 430C - 800F and the other side about 400C - +750F.

                Last time I was struggling to keep the floor at 350C – 660F

                I feel like 400C instead of 350C results in better pizza making.

                Other thing I learned is how little tomato sauce and toppings you need, very easy to overload and have a soggy middle.

                Also maybe the underside of the pizza’s or the peel were a bit too floured, because after 5 pizza’s the floor was kinda dirty black of burned flour I think, giving a bitter taste. After cleaning it was better again.

                do you guys regularly have to sweep and clean the floor in between a few pizzas too?

                I was so focused on everything I forgot to take any pictures
                My 70cm (28") build:


                • get yourself a length of pipe to use as a blowpipe to clear the ash for the first pizza and maybe between pizzas if needed. Just remember to blow, not suck. Sounds like you might be using a bit too much flour. About a 1/4 tsp of semolina on the peel makes the base slide around like it's on ball bearings.
                  Kindled with zeal and fired with passion.


                  • I'll try the semolina next time! happy to learn and improve.

                    After shoving the fire aside, I clean the floor by first brushing the ashes away, and then mopping with a well wrung wet cloth on my turning peel.

                    So, yes, I think we use too much flour (it's not ashes on the floor).
                    My 70cm (28") build:


                    • Sometimes the floor just needs a little recharging after a number of pizzas. Rake the coals back over the cooking area, have a beer, then move coals back to side. Blow off ash and on your way again. plus the recharge burns off any spillage. I also use a length of 3/8" SS tubing for my blowpipe. Tape or foam the mouth end since it is really easy to chip a tooth. Some repurposers have use an old golf club shaft.
                      Last edited by UtahBeehiver; 08-03-2021, 07:11 AM.
                      Google Photo Album []


                      • While on semolina, you can also use it to test floor temp. A good party trick that I don’t bother with these days. You cast a small amount (about 1/3 tsp) onto the centre of the clean floor. It should suddenly turn black after 3 seconds. 2 secs = too hot, 4 secs= not hot enough. The floor is always too hot for the first pizza, so I simply cook the first one or two pizzas half in the entry where it’s cooler.
                        Last edited by david s; 08-03-2021, 01:15 PM.
                        Kindled with zeal and fired with passion.


                        • Hello again! So we had another pizza party, this time we cooked 24.
                          Overall all went well, still learning to get better at Neapolitan style pizza making . (couldn’t get semolina flour this time)

                          I’m getting better at judging the ideal floor temp (and position for the pizza), I find anywhere between +/- 375 -450 C (+/- 700 – 840 F). higher and the dough/flour immediately burns black which tastes horribly bitter.
                          Fire management also getting a little better, learning the importance of having lots of flames going to cook the toppings in the same time it takes the floor to cook the dough. Having and maintaining this good floor / flame equilibrium is still somewhat difficult for me to keep going for a long time, in the end my floor was a little too hot and I had a little too few flames so the tomato sauce and toppings were not quite 100% cooked, but the dough was ready, so I take the pizzas out.

                          I had prepared 33 dough balls with a 24hr proof, there were 9 left, so without thinking too much I put the balls in plastic bags and straight to the freezer. The morning after we decided to invite some other friends for pizza again at noon because we still had some toppings and stuff left, so I took them out of the fridge in the morning to quickly thaw at room temp. not ideal because it’s better to let them slowly defrost overnight in the fridge I guess). Once thawed I did a little experiment and re balled 5 and let the other 4 flat and irregular. Should not have re balled them because it took a good 2 hours for them to flatten enough in order to stretch a good bottom. The ones id didn’t ball again were actually good enough to shape the moment they were at room temp.

                          These are some pics of the pizzas with the reballed dough from day 2 with left over toppings, they were still somewhat difficult to stretch, so a little smaller and floor / flame balance was not quite right, but they were delicious!

                          Click image for larger version

Name:	IMG-20210815-WA0001.jpg
Views:	559
Size:	479.0 KB
ID:	440871 Click image for larger version

Name:	IMG-20210815-WA0002.jpg
Views:	473
Size:	423.1 KB
ID:	440872 Click image for larger version

Name:	IMG-20210815-WA0003.jpg
Views:	471
Size:	438.9 KB
ID:	440873
                          My 70cm (28") build:


                          • Now here’s a less pleasant thing to report: I noticed a small chunk of the dome is coming loose, and a bit higher up it appears a small piece has already fallen out!

                            Should I panic? I do remember after my casting that other users posts of their casting process looked more wet, my homebrew was a bit on the dry side.

                            Patching up is futile I think, I probably wont even be able to reach as well.

                            Any input greatly appreciated!

                            Click image for larger version

Name:	20210815_181231.jpg
Views:	426
Size:	636.4 KB
ID:	440876
                            Attached Files
                            My 70cm (28") build:


                            • mmn, thats bad news indeed....., can you tel if your cracks form during heating or during cooling down afterwards?

                              but even so as long as its only a small chip here or there (and they dont fal in the food) i don't think the structural integrity of your dome is in any danger.... is there smoke leaking?


                              • Yesterday it was indeed pizza-party-weather (we had 15 ppl over). Your pictures look great! I hope the dome holds up.

                                my 2c on pizza baking:
                                Excess of flour will indeed burn black. Wipe and-or blow it to the side every few pizzas.
                                Btw: a wooden peel slides with less flour.

                                keep very thin timber at hand. The fire responds so much quicker to it. Even more if you preheat it in the entrance.