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How to know when Oven is hot enough to place your meals in ?
From the WFO board
Posted by Rado
How do I know when the 'wood burning pizza/bread oven' is ready for loading?
When I began having thoughts about building and cooking in my own wood burning traditional pizza/bread oven, one of the first questions I had regarding cooking strategies was how will I know when when is the best time to start to put my pots, pizzas, sausages on the hot oven's floor. I knew, first what I do will be setting a moderate fire inside the oven's hearth using some dry wood as tree branches and so on /any but not with paint on it/ lying on the old news paper. After a some time, depending on the size of the oven and it's dome density, perhaps close to 1 1/2 hour the oven is ready waiting for first loads.
Huh, but how do you know it exactly, my oven can be larger or smaller, it can have thin walls or my walls are of a great thickness for a better heat absorption so it cooks for me for a long time then - you may ask? I repeat it's easy, don't fret!
After about an hour as you kept the fire to burn the wood nicely slowly , take a small amount of any flour and throw it into the oven's floor some where between the fire and the oven's inside wall. Throw it in the patchy scattered way. At the beginning some place closer to the fire will be hotter then place next to the wall. This will get more even later if you keep gentle fire on. Fetching me to make a point many people set the fire hours before the time when their friends are coming for a dinner while keeping the fire on low.
OK you may say, I know how throw the flour in, but now what?
Once thrown in, all hell breaks lose (I am just kidding). Watch it for about a minute. When your oven is appropriately hot the flour will turn to a golden color within one minute and then it start to darken, but darkens not too fast. This is the best temperature inside of the oven, when it's like this you do not have to wait long time to finish individual meals e.g.. pizzas or sausages and alike. For these only about 3 to 5 minutes. Roasting chicken etc., casserole dishes take a bit longer, you should also rotate-twist it around at times not necessarily around in the oven, it's fun.
Now, if the flour stays white or just slightly-trifles to yellow oven is not really ready yet. Taken out pizza would look more soaked rather then as it should look when done in the wood burning pizza/bread oven - and taste too.
If the flour darkens fast, stop adding more wood inside into the fire. Be more vigilant not to end up with pizzas that have burned edges. Also pots, rotate them inside more often and keep then further from the fire spot. Although cooking in wood ovens is much more simpler and a lot more easier to what it is in conventional ovens and stoves, if you forget about having your favorite cakes inside you know what happens, mixing dough again.
Now you know how to control temperature in the wood oven, it is very easy and everyone can do it. With the little bit of experience gained you will rotate more among your friends.
PS: Just forgot to add, there are also fancy thermometers available on the market.
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