As was the case with my Big Green Egg, this has also got a pretty good learning curve to it. John Tutulo over at Biga Wood Fired has been very helpful in offering advice on the various aspects of timing all of this stuff (not to mention he's allowed me to pilfer some well-seasoned wood from him).
Unbeknownst to me, he said you have to really kick off the fire about 2 in the afternoon if you want to be ready to roll by dinner. The oven needs plenty of time for the brick to get saturated with heat (think along the lines of a long, slow, steady rain for parched soil as opposed to a deluge that last ten minutes). That heat saturation allows the oven floor to recharge itself after cooking a pizza.
The wood needs to be as dry as you can get it. This allows the wood to transfer as much of its potential heat energy into heating up the oven rather than wasting it on trying to evaporate the water that is still in an unseasoned timber. John said he aims for anything that is 20% moisture or less. At the moment I've been bumming dry wood from John and getting untreated oak floor leftovers from my brother-in-law.
|Running on empty|
So how did everything turn out with the pizzas we made on Christmas Night? I was actually pretty happy with what we did. Pictured below are the pies we cooked, and in what order we liked them (I'm showing them from least favorite to favorite). I had Stuart Spivack (local foodie about town and owner of the world's slowest blog), Walter Hyde (co-owner of the now retooling mobile operated Fat Casual and brother-in-law), my other b-i-l Mike aka "Cheesecake" pictured here, Regina (my sous chef in life and dessert mavin), and of course my beloved dogs, Ladybug and Winston (cleanup crew).
I have to give credit to for the toppings to Regina. Right now I'm a hot mess making dough, stoking fires, chatting up the guests, and drinking beers. She went out and bought all of the stuff. Her knowledge of food stuffs is pretty amazing.
I was rocking the Overnight Pizza Dough from Ken Forkish's Flour Water Salt Yeast. What a great book. The dough is very easy to make, and doesn't overproof if you aren't starting at exactly at a certain time. The dough balls are very easy to work with and offer little to no trouble while stretching.As you can see they puff up nicely and would work well even in a home oven. Check out Ken's Artisan Pizza if you're ever in Portland, OR.
|#5 Mushroom, Sausage, Gouda, Mozz/Provolone Blend, Olive Oil on the Crust|
|#4. Mushroom, Sausage, Red Sauce, Trader Joe's Mozz, Mozz/Prov Blend, Thyme, Pecorino Finish|
|3. Roasted Garlic, Roasted Red Pepper, Mozz, Mozz/Prov Blend, Red Sauce|
|2. Benton's Bacon, Brie, Onions, Fig Spread, Olive Oil|
|1. Benton's Bacon, Onion, Trader Joe's Mozz, Mozz/Prov Blend, Red Sauce, and Thyme|