Posts Tagged pizza oven

Clay content 24hrs later

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Last night I’m glad I added the lines. It had already settled further, currently reducing the sand to clay ratio to about 1:2.5. Good! Less sand. We’ll see how much less by Friday.

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Death to the pizza oven, long live the pizza oven

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All good things come to an end, and with a bank holiday coming up I fancied rebuilding the oven with better insulation etc.
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Pizza oven running again

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Whenever I fire up the pizza oven I feel I’m possibly doing it for the last time. The brick inner dome is cracked and the outside is disintegrating.

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Still, this is the first time I’ve used it in anger entirely myself – I made and rolled the dough, cut up the ingredients and lit the fire.

I used charcoal to fire it this time – a break from the usual wood firings. I started the oven about 2:30pm, it was ready a smidge after 7pm. 6 hrs which is a little below normal. The benefit is that it only takes about a 5KG bag of charcoal, whereas I’d probably burn twice that of wood.

Pizza was of course, very tasty. I tried a new dough which included some whole meal flour. It didn’t crisp in the same way but still good!

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Pizza with Friends

My friends Chad and Tanya visited this weekend (bringing a range of beer and cider) mainly to try some of my pizza and experience the delights of “The Man Cave” cinema experience – though we made so much pizza (probably about 20 or so) we never actually got round to doing much in the way of cinema viewing.  Chad has pointed out I need a wifi baby monitor so I can sit out in the garden without worrying to much about my baby to be.

As you can see from the above image the insulation on the pizza oven doesn’t really survive the burns I’ve been doing.  It should really be encapsulated in a lime render – similarly the large cracks that have formed correspond to the large cracks in the oven itself.  It’s pretty much had it and we’re intending on rebuilding it soon.  I think the only real way to do it is to have everyone over stomping some mud for the new oven, offer them pizza from the old then rebuild it the next day.  We pretty much know how much we need (a lot!) and if we make enough screened material without pointy stones in it it should be an easy process.

At least I know what’s wrong with the current oven – we just didn’t use anywhere near enough sand in it!

Pics below

 

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Party!

The day of the big housewarming party had arrived and I don’t think I’ve worked so hard for some while!  My friend Ben and I did the rounds in the morning picking up chairs, tables, glasses and other assorted party stuff from relatives then rushed home to setup.  We’d booked a bouncy castle and invited both sets of neighbours either side who’d helped clearing the garden or who’d provided us help over the last couple of months!  Friends and family rolled up and we got the BBQ running.

Ben had spent some of the morning making a great peel and a door for the pizza oven.  We intended to fire it up around dinner time after everyone was sick of BBQ food and provide some nice pizzas.  I wish I’d had time for another dry run with the oven but decided to wing it on the day.

I started the fire around 4pm and got it going for a good burn until about 6pm when we raked out the ashes and tried our luck.

I started off by putting some raw dough in – and within seconds it’d become rather excellent naan bread.  Encouraged the first pizza went in.  It came out quite deep panned but had a lovely crunch at the base – ten times better than oven pizza (including the ‘fresh’ pizza dough I’d used in the oven a couple of weeks before).  We managed another two pizzas before deciding to start the fire again and brought it back up to temperature.  Pizzas were taking about 5-10 minutes to cook, so I’m fairly sure my oven was still a little on the cool side, so I’m looking forward to firing it up again perhaps as soon as next weekend…

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Adding insulation (earth oven pt8)

Making up another batch of insulation I insulated the oven. A few bottles went round the sides as well.  Hopefully this’ll make it easier to get the oven up to temperature.

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Pizza Fail

I got up early and started my fire before anyone had a chance to get their washing out (about 7-8am).  A full large bag of wood later and I thought I had a nice warm oven.

The idea was to make a pizza for my friend Allan who was coming to finish the electrics in my man cave.  Unfortunately my fire was neither hot enough nor l0ng enough lasting.  After a two hour burn the outside of the clay was getting hot and yet the inside still felt only warm.

The dough I’d made went into the fridge for the next day and made a nice pizza in the oven (if not only a little over cooked!)

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First drying fire (earth oven pt7)

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Last night I scooped out the sand and lit the first drying fire which was quite small.

I was surprised how well the fire lit, the small amount of smoke and well, frankly that it worked!

I light a lot of fires when camping but never in a container like an oven.

Once the wood caught properly there was no visible smoke and after I raked out the ash and embers the inside was considerably warmer than I expected!

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Oven dome (earth oven pt5)

Finally everything was in place to start the earth oven itself!  We had four bags of sharp sand which was pretty much all we needed – though I did later learn that our oven mix had too much clay and more sand would have meant less cracking!

I started off by making a 22.5″ diameter circle using a tape measure and pencil.  Sand was piled upto and a little over the edges and tamped down.  Fortunately the sand was pretty wet from the bags and we didn’t need to wet it further to keep its structure.

Usually you’d then add wet newspaper, but it was so windy any attempt to stick newspaper to the dome failed.  We put clay directly over the sand, firming down rather than squashing it onto the dome which would have dented the sand form.

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Oven base (earth oven pt4)

Quite by suprise, I had a few more helpers and we ran out of other jobs to do – so we got on with the next stage of the pizza oven which was to add an oven clay base over the top of the insulation level.  I made this with 1pt clay to 1pt sand.

We stomped the base together using boots to start with, but found this was much more difficult than using barefeet.  Boots seem to grab the clay and you end up with platform shoes.  Barefoot seems to be non-stick (apart from between the toes!)

we leveled the clay with the brick rings (three high by this point and still badly made) and put a layer of sand on top.

The red fire bricks were recycled from an old storage heater.  Scrubbed well and layed as flush as possible so sand and ash don’t build up.  I also ensured they were as level as possible.  Almost ready for the dome!

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