Saturday, May 21, 2011

10. Firing The Oven

Firing the Oven
Apparently it is important to dry out the clay thoroughly at low temperatures gradually increasing to pizza-cooking temperatures.  Thanks to 'david s' at the Forno Bravo forums, I now know why the top layer of clay formed cracks.  Scary cracks.  I once had a crack on my windscreen that started small.  Eventually the windscreen needed to be replaced.  And the cracks in the windscreen were nothing on the cracks in the oven.

The Crack, Not Big Enough for a Matchstick
I sort of went through a process of firing the oven - after the first fire, I set fires a few more times.  And the crack continued to grow.

Crack a Week Later, With Matchstick
For Mark II, apparently firing (also known as 'curing') the oven properly involves paper fires, then briquette (heat bead) fires, then stick fires, then log fires.  David s suggested 20 kilograms of briquettes.  This might be 10 times the 10 or so hours I had in fires.  Also, my enthusiasm for fire overtook caution, so my fires started pretty big.  Firing can be accompanied by weeks of air drying.  It did take about 3 weeks to work up to pizzas, but mostly due to a temporary loss of confidence (in proportion with the growth of the crack).

Spuds in Foil Among the Coals
Another alternative may be to dry each layer in turn.  I wondered why Simon Brookes emptied out sand and fired the first layer.  I did not have confidence that the first layer would stand up.  Hence the need to add more layers before emptying the sand.

Spuds Ready For Eating
Along the way I tried to cook a couple of french sticks, which failed due to insufficient heat.  I rescued them in sufficient time to put them in the inside oven and cook them successfully, but this was a failure for the oven.  Later that day, after a lot more briquettes, I roasted whole potatoes in foil to great success.

...Geoff (still) the pyro
Shiny 9-inch Pizza Trays

At about this time I also took delivery of a dozen shiny 9-inch aluminium pizza trays.

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