Sunday, June 5, 2011

Cob Oven Pizza Becomes Reality

Our Pizza Team
We did it. We finally made the pizza in the oven. And you know what.... It was good. Even though we messed up the first batch, the second was so good, it made up for the first with flavor and texture to spare.

So, this is how we did it, and how it should have been done.

This morning, after walking the dog and tying out the goats, I took a cedar plank that I hand milled with my chainsaw mill and cut two slabs off of it. I measured twice and cut them- 30 cm by 16cm. Then I found a piece of scrap board that I could use to connect them into a single 32x30 plank. I used an old plate to make the curve of the top, and cut it out. Voila- a rough door. I then matched the door to the oven, marked, and cut out on opening to fit it. This is the last thing that went well for some time.

Topping the pizzas
At about 10:20, I lit a fire in the oven. It did not want to burn. After 40 minutes of coaxing, it finally began to burn well. I built it up to a fair roaring fire, and went inside to make the pizzas. It is hard to make pizzas with a 1 1/2 year old who loves cheese... The pizzas had a distinct lack of toppings where his hand could reach the pies. Oh well, gotta love them.

Not Hot Enough
Then, at about 12:10, we put the first pizzas in the oven. It did not go well. I guess my first clue was that I could put my hand inside the oven and not feel hot... The other pizzas were baked in the kitchen while I added more wood.
A bit disheartened by the whole experience, we looked online and found a bit of information that I should have discovered beforehand- Heat the oven for three hours- or until the soot on the interior walls burns away from the intense heat. So we made the decision to have pizza for dinner as well, and I kept the fire roaring for four more hours. At the end of that, there was no soot on the interior walls, I can tell you that much.

For the dinner pizzas, I pushed the hot coals off to the sides and back, and slid the pizzas in. This time they cooked in no time flat, with a wonderful browning of the cheese..... Mmm... .Delicious!

I Heart Pizza

I have heard that you don't need the fire burning in the oven when you bake, but we had the best results with the fire or at least the coals burning as we baked the pizza. Maybe for bread it isn't necessary, since it needs lower temps and longer times. But I think the coals made the difference.

To sum up the lessons learned today-
1. Thin crust
2. Properly preheat the oven- Three hours or until it burns the soot off the walls.
3. Push coals to side and back
4. One parent should distract the cheese stealing toddler.

Next time we will stack functions- Pizzas, bread, and finally sweet potatoes. I can't wait!

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