Wood Fired Podcast Episode 3 - Itamar Abramovitch

In our third episode of Wood Fired we spoke with our longtime friend Itamar Abramovitch. Itamar is a Culinary Institute of America graduate and an incredibly talented chef who has hundreds of hours of experience cooking in Forno Piombo wood fired ovens. Itamar goes in depth on some of his favorite wood fired dishes along with what cooking means to him. We were also able to talk to Itamar about some of his current projects, and local restaurants he loves. If you own a wood fired oven I highly recommend listening to this awesome episode!

Thermal Mass & Heat Retention

All Forno Piombo ovens (built after mid-2018) come equipped with 2 thermocouples (heat probes) installed inside the brick dome. Probe A is located inside the oven itself, which its essentially reading the cooking temperature inside the oven. Probe B is located on the outside of the 4.5” brick dome, which will tell you the thermal mass reading on the oven, or how saturated with heat the dome is.

To better understand these temperature probes and the purpose they serve, we can compare them to information displayed from a vehicle. Probe A is reading the ovens cooking temperature, which would be similar to the speedometer on a car; it tells you how fast you are currently going, or in our case, how hot our oven currently is and what temperature our food will be cooking at. Probe B is reading how saturated with heat the brick dome is, which can be compared to the fuel gauge on a car. If your fuel tank is full, you know that you can drive your vehicle at a high rate of speed for a long time. By knowing the saturation level, you can figure out how long that heat will remain in the oven once you stop adding fuel. Knowing this temperature will help you with lower temperature cooking when you use your oven to cook food in the 200-650 degree range. It is very difficult and sometimes impossible to cook at these lower temperatures using logs and fire as your fuel source, because wood burns at such a hot temperature. Normally we use wood for cooking food at 650 degrees Fahrenheit and above. For 650 and below, we use the stored heat inside the brick dome from a previous fire. This is where the value of Probe B comes in. Below is an example of where these probes are located and what temperatures they are reading.

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When paired with the right hardware, these thermocouples (probes) can gives us some great insight into the data behind our wood fired ovens. There are a wide variety of devices you can plug your thermocouples into. Some are simple digital display readers that will show you how hot the 2 probes are. Here is an example of one of these types of readers: Display Reader. Others can connect to the internet and upload and monitor your temperatures 24/7. It can be configured to send you text message alerts when certain temperatures are met, plot temperature history on graphs and much more. The DicksoneOne Touchscreen device is one of these more advanced pieces of hardware that can do a lot more than simply read your oven temperatures. Let’s take a look at the graph below which was generated through our DicksonOne device during one of our fires. The red line is showing us the oven temperature (Probe A) and the yellow line is the temperature on the outside of the 4.5” thick brick (Probe B).

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As you can see the fire was started around 2:45 PM and shot up to 750° F within 30 minutes. At this point it was maintained between 700°-950° F until 7 PM, so the oven was actively being fueled by logs for about 4 hours. Some interesting things to note here:

  • Probe B reached 500° at 10:30 PM, 7.5 hours after the start of the fire and 3.5 hours after we stopped adding logs. 500-600° is the standard high temperature that the outside of the brick dome seems to reach. When Probe B reaches this temperature we consider the oven “Fully Saturated”, meaning your brick dome has stored enough heat to slow cook at lower temperatures.

  • The temperature inside the oven dropped from 600-400° in 15 hours, giving the oven an average temperature loss of roughly 13° F per hour during this time. This temperature range could be used to cook meat and vegetables in cast iron or our custom grill accessory.

  • The temperature inside the oven dropped from 400-200° in 24 hours, giving the oven an average temperature loss of roughly 8° F per hour during this time. This temperature range is ideal for slow roasting and bread baking.

Knowing how thermal mass works in your oven is crucial to cooking at lower temperatures, and that is where our temperature probes come in handy. Cooking over a period of a few days using retained heat is a fun and efficient way to use your oven. Below is an infographic on how you can utilize the heat from one fire to cook your way through the weekend.

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This is just a small example of how you might utilize your ovens heat retention to cook all weekend. Again, there is a learning curve when it comes to low temperature cooking in your wood fired oven, but it is a challenge that most of our customers seem to embrace. Our temperature probes are simply a tool meant to help you understand how thermal mass works in your oven, one of the first steps to mastering your wood fired cooking endeavors. Our next post on this subject will focus more on where heat is located inside the oven. For example; cooking your food on the floor of the oven will produce much different results than cooking your food 10 inches above the floor. Look for that blog post along with many others in the near future. Please feel free to comment any questions or thoughts you may have below!

-Tony P



Wood Fired Podcast Episode 2 - Robert Sulatycky

This was the second episode of our new Wood Fired Podcast. Robert Sulatycky is an incredibly talented chef and close friend of ours who has a long history with the Bocuse d'Or cooking competition. Robert leads cooking classes for us at least twice a month, you can check out his next class here, taking place on May 18.

We spent the first half of this podcast with some general discussion on wood fired cooking in addition to Robert's culinary background. During the second half we went pretty deep into the Bocuse d'Or. Robert was able to give us some really interesting insight into what leads up to and takes place during the competition. If you like cooking you will love this podcast, thanks again to Robert for coming on the show!

Wood Fired Podcast Episode 1 - Tyler Rodde

This was the first episode of our new Wood Fired Podcast. Tyler Rodde is the founder and head chef at Oenotri, a southern Italian inspired restaurant located in Downton Napa. Tyler is a close friend of ours, and has been renting our mobile pizza ovens for the past 5 years through our RentAPizzaOven.com business. In this episode we talked a bit about his background and some of the different inspirations for his restaurant and what led to its creation. We were able to discuss some different cooking techniques in wood fired ovens, along with some tips and tricks. Please leave us a comment with any feedback!

Pizza Making Forum

Title: Forno Piombo
Post by: Dana 

Like many here I spent months researching ovens and finally decided that I needed a true firebrick oven (instead of cast refractory concrete). I luckily found Forno Piombo in Napa, CA. My oven was delivered this month (Aug 2016) by Guy and Tony Piombo, and I am 100% satisfied. The entire experience was white glove from the start: they invited me to their workshop so I could see the passion and craftsmanship that they put into the ovens, helped me customize the oven for my needs, had it ready on my schedule, and delivered to my house in Marin County and set it up personally. The oven performed exactly as they explained (curing process, heat retention, absolutely no cracking of the firebrick even though the temps peaked at over 1100 deg F, etc) and 3 days later we had a family pizza party where all of us (including some wood-oven pizza snobs) were totally blown away by the results! We have used it for 2 pizza parties so far, with spectacular results. The word "spectacular" is relative to what we expected given we just started out, and we still have much to learn and improve. We cheated and bought frozen sourdough pizza dough from a local bakery (Bordenave's in San Rafael, CA), which was absolutely wonderful. Perfecting my own dough recipe will be the next step in this adventure!

Guy and Tony build these ovens masterfully, with no exposed mortar joints (the bricks are all cut individually to fit together perfectly, with all the mortar on the backs of the bricks). Because of this the curing process was simple: fire up the oven as hot and long as you want, and curing is done when the water stops dripping from the edges. Mine was fully cured in only 2 days, and I was able to get it up to about 1200 F in the dome and 1000F on the floor, with no cracking! 

I am also impressed by the thermal mass with the 4.5 inch thick firebrick design in the dome. I have only run the oven 4 times now, and each time we have had the same temperature results: the dome gets up to about 1100 deg F and the floor to about 900 deg F in about 1.5 hrs. I let it cool just a bit (650-750 F on the floor) and then feed with about 1 or 2 small logs every 15-30 mins. After cooking for about 3 hours, I let the burning logs die down to coals and then put the door in. The next morning the oven temp is about 500 deg (using an oven thermometer placed inside the oven), and that evening it getsdown to about 375 F. Thus, 24 hours after we finished making pizza we could still bake bread--very impressive heat retention.

I highly recommend Forno Piombo--the quality, value, and service are unbeatable.

Post by: MLWilcox 

Great looking oven and pizza. I went to their website.  They make beautiful ovens reasonably priced. Enjoy.

Title: Re: Forno Piombo
Post by: Chris Barnes 

Dana,
I just ordered my Forno Piombo oven yesterday and am pleased to see you had such a positive experience.  Tony and Guy have been amazing throughout the entire process and are more than helpful.  My oven will be here in two weeks and look forward to being able to share our experience and contribute to the knowledge base here on this forum.

Chris
Phoenix, AZ

Title: Re: Forno Piombo
Post by: Dana

Hi Chris,

Glad to hear it. I don't think you'll be disappointed. I've been very impressed with how the oven performs, and every pie has turned out great. I was pretty surprised by that as I had assumed it would take at least a few tries to figure it out. My only significant learning from the first firing or two was to always have a log flamming in the oven. Once or twice I let it die down to just glowing coals as it seemed hot enough that way. But I quickly learned that the pies do bake, but they take longer and don't turn out as nice. Also if I waited too long to throw on more wood I would get a lot of smoke. Now I always throw on a new log when the flame is still going but is too small to reach up the side of the dome. That seems to keep it at the perfect temperature and conditions for ideal bakes.

Enjoy your new oven!

Title: Re: Forno Piombo
Post by: Chris Barnes

Dana, Thanks for the tips!  My oven ships today and will be here mid next week.  I hope to have it up and running by the weekend, but am not sure how long the curing of the oven will take.  I'll be sure to post pictures and my results.

Chris

Title: Re: Forno Piombo
Post by: Neopolitan 

Beautiful designed oven!

Since Your pizza looks like a Neo style pizza to me I wonder, did You buy it for a certain type of bake style?
The dome look quit high to me. And how does the bottom of your pizza bake?

Could you show how the flue is channeled into the dome?

The WFO sure looks like a quality build. And I'm curious to your next baking session.

Greetings,

Case

Title: Re: Forno Piombo
Post by: Chris Barnes

I finally received my oven on Wednesday.  Worked hard and fired the oven gradually hotter twice per day to complete the curing process.  Oven just needs to be painted and it's done!  We made our first garlic bread and pizza's last night and experimented with different ingredients and oven temperatures.  By the fourth pizza, we had it pretty much dialed in.  Now it's time to experiment with different dough recipes, etc.

Title: Re: Forno Piombo
Post by: Neopolitan 

Nice garden setting!

Keep them comming.

Title: Re: Forno Piombo
Post by: MLWilcox 

Wow.

Title: Re: Forno Piombo
Post by: Chris Barnes 

As a side note about the Forno Piombo oven.  I just wanted to say that my neighbor has a very popular refractory mortar oven that is much smaller in size than my Forno Piombo oven.  We were amazed to experience that my oven actually heats up to pizza temperature faster than their smaller oven.  We also noticed that the temperature is more stable and seems to be much more forgiving in regards to controlling the ideal temperature. 
Last but not least, Tony and Guy Piombo were nothing short of amazing throughout the process.  They were nice enough to answer many of my rookie questions and walk me through everything from craning it over my wall, to curing my oven.  I highly recommend their product, but most of all their commitment to their product and after sale service.  If you are on the fence regarding which oven to buy, don't hesitate to give this relatively new company a shot.  You won't be disappointed!  

Chris
Phoenix, AZ

Title: Re: Forno Piombo
Post by: Neopolitan

The insulation, refactory and internal oven design are key to the performance.

Title: Re: Forno Piombo
Post by: Dana 

Chris, looks like you're having fun with your oven--congrats!

Before I got my forno piombo I was a little worried about the dome height given what I had read on this forum regarding general discussions of dome height on neopolitan ovens. However, since I have been using the oven I have absolutely no concerns. The reason is the the tops of my pizza's are baking very well and very fast, with absolutely no need to lift the pizza into the dome to get a final browning of the top. I'm posting a few more examples. As you can see, the browning on top seems pretty good. The one with figs and prosciutto had the prosciutto added after the pizza came out, so you have to try to look past the ham to see how well that one baked on top. All of these had a bake time of 90-180 secs. I also included a not-so-great photo of one inside the oven just before pulling it out (again, no holding up in the dome).

Unfortunately, I still haven't taken photos of any bottoms, but they also seem pretty good, with nice leopard spotting. I'll try to get some photos of the bottoms to post soon.

Title: Re: Forno Piombo
Post by: Chris Barnes 

Dana,
I agree and was originally a bit concerned about the dome height of the Forno Piombo oven.  However, I'm having very similar results that you are experiencing.  So far we have made 12 pizzas, and am finding they are cooking top/bottom very evenly.  I have zero concerns at this point and am looking forward to more pizza making tomorrow night for a relatively large group of people.  BTW, your pizza's look amazing!  I'm curious what dough recipe you are using?  I'm willing to share mine if you are interested?  It's so easy, and freezes so well we can't tell the difference between fresh and frozen.

Chris

Title: Re: Forno Piombo
Post by: Dana 

Hi Chris, I cheat and buy amazing sourdough pizza dough at a local bakery (Bordenave's in San Rafael). It's cheap and wonderful, so I haven't been very motivated to try making my own. It also freezes really well. I have even thawed, refrozen, rethawed, and then proofed with near perfect results. I suppose I will get around to making my own someday (maybe) so I would definitely appreciate it if you would post your recipe. 
Best,
Dana

Title: Re: Forno Piombo
Post by: geoff7877 

That's a beautiful oven. I didn't realize they're in Napa. Cool to see such a great oven being made in the area.

Source: https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.ph...

It All Started With An Oven

This is a blog excerpt from one of our clients. To read more from Angela please visit her website at http://woodfiredfanatics.com

 

 

Written By: Angela Barnes

What convinced us a wood fired oven was right for our family? The wheels seriously began turning when friends shared stories and pictures of the delicious food they were able to cook in their wood fired ovens, including a thanksgiving turkey (my favorite meal of the year). Then we started creating and eating pizza with our neighborhood friends. It is such a fun and social way to cook. This was definitely something we could get into! Now the big job began…choosing an oven. Which oven was best suited for us? Thankfully Mr. Fanatic is amazing at research. He started reading and watching everything he could about oven construction, size, style, portable, built-in…you name it, he read it. I will write future posts on each of those considerations but for now, I want to share what oven we chose and some of the reasons why.

We chose an oven from Forno Piombo.

Forno Piombo is a family owned business in Northern California with the most amazing owners, Guy and Anthony Piombo. We discovered their business while reading posts on a pizza making forum. From the very beginning Guy and Tony have been a wealth of knowledge and always willing to help. They have answered questions about everything from their ovens and why we should choose them, to the host of questions about wood fired cooking we have had since the oven has been in our yard.

After much discussion and consideration, we determined a permanent oven was the right choice as we have no plans to move. We did not want the oven to look like an after thought but rather that it had always been a part of our outdoor kitchen. The aesthetics of Forno Piombo’s oven fit with the overall look of our home and yard. By ordering the oven finished only through the scratch coat process, we could stucco it after installation to match the texture already on our house and BBQ island.

The most important aspects for us were oven construction and heat retention. Forno Piombo oven interiors are made completely of firebrick, both the floor and dome. Brick ovens have been built this way for centuries and there must be a reason for that, right? One reason is heat retention. This oven is extremely well insulated because the brick is 4 inches thick versus concrete that might be 2.5 inches. Let me tell you, it can retain heat for days following a pizza night.

The center vent was an important consideration. This allows the to door to be used to help control the heat in the oven. Additionally, the hot air exhaust from the oven is sent over the top of the dome before it exits the stack making it even more efficient. Forno Piombo’s higher dome offers versatility to use the oven for many dishes besides pizza.

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Finally, it felt good to buy from them! They are a small business making a terrific product. The level of service they offer is truly exceptional. Guy and Tony are like having a friend in the brick oven pizza business. Although not here in our hometown, buying from a family business like the Piombos’, felt like we were shopping locally.

Although there are many different types, manufacturers, beliefs, and theories, these are the reasons WE chose the oven we did. Our friends all have different types of ovens that fit their particular needs. Posts that go into the various attributes of wood fired ovens in detail will be coming in the future. If you don’t already have a wood fired oven, you will be more informed to make the best choice possible.

 
Source: http://woodfiredfanatics.com