Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Return To Firedome

Earlier today, I got the urge to have a go at the Firedome again. Kind of fitting since the first deposit into the Brick Oven Fund happened earlier this afternoon. Since the urge hit me kind of late, nothing was homemade. I used Mastrianni dough and a can of Hannaford's Nature's Place Organic tomato sauce (which is surprisingly good sauce). I lit a chimney of charcoal and dumped it into the back of the grill before it was fully lit. I topped that off with what I had hoped were the driest pieces of apple wood I have out back. Mostly smaller twigs with a few thicker branches. Put the grate on, placed the new 13" pizza stone I picked up in Syracuse and plopped the lid on. Then the smoke came (Sorry neighbors - it was worse than I expected). After about 5 minutes of smoke, everything settle back down.

I put the first pizza in. This one was topped with black olives. I don't know why, but the kids like olives on their pizza. I'm not opposed to olives on pizza, but in the pizza topping world there are many better choices.

I had used too much dough and the bottom was cooking faster than the top. The Weber lid doesn't reflect the heat that well. Still tasted pretty good though.

As the cooking session went on, I go better at handling the dough. Also in the dome, a 4 ounce piece of dough cooks much better than an 8 ounce piece. Lesson learned.

The pizza stone worked very well. Check out the crust on one of the last pizzas.
Lessons learned from this firing:
1. To better cook the top of the pizza, I think I need to have flames coming up the back of the dome.
2. Bring the cheese and any toppings to room temperature so they require less time in the oven.
3. Start making my own dough. I have so many recipes to try and I'm pretty sure any of them will be better than store bought.
4. Nature's Place Organic Tomato Sauce is surprisingly good.
5. I currently smell like a campfire.


  1. Seems like raising the stone would do the trick. Have you tried that?

  2. Raising it might help. I don't think the dome does a good job reflecting the heat onto the top of the pizza. If I had flame coming up the back, I was hoping the actual fire would help cook the top. Another approach would be to rig some way to hold another stone above the pizza to reflect heat down.

    The original inventor of the oven is slowly putting together his "lessons learned" at his blog. So far he has a big hole in the bottom of his Firedome that I don't currently have. I'll see what else he does before venturing off on my own. Here's a link to the write up in progress:


  3. Interesting idea on rigging a stone in the lid. Any idea how to attach it?

    Thanks for the link.

  4. I recently tried out a piece of steel as a pizza stone (http://joninalbanyblog.blogspot.com/2012/10/pizza-on-steel.html) and with a little tweaking and some more experience I think that will work pretty well. My idea is to get another piece of steel for the cooking surface and make some kind of stainless steel wire "basket" to hole the stone over the steel. The wires for the net would go through a hole in the lid and tie off to the handle. I'm not sure how stable that would be. I guess it would depend on how much wire I used.

    Another good,, but much more labor intensive, modification is to go the way of the pizza hacker with refractory cement. I heard this guy is opening a restaurant now.


    If you find yourself a beat up Weber on craigslist, it's a fun toy.

  5. That pizza looks amazing! OK. I've been reading more of your blog and it looks like you and I are pretty much on the same path regarding the quest for pizza. You are just further along it. Have you thought about using a pizza pan up top? The reason I suggest it is have them at restaurant supply stores for like 6 bucks and they are lighter so may be easier to mount.

  6. There is an amazing amount of pizza information out there. Pizza freaks are everywhere online. And while pizza freaks are opinionated, it is generally a pretty nice community.

    I don't think a pizza pan would work well. I agree it would be lighter and easier to mount but the problem is reflecting/radiating heat back down. I don't think it would do it. Imagine holding your hand over a cookie sheet that just came out of a hot oven. The heat coming off it wouldn't be that strong. If you touched it, you'd get burned, but the air above it wouldn't be hot.

    My favorite story about radiant heat was from someone that had just finished building their own brick oven. As they fire died down, he put a marshmallow on a stick and held the marshmallow in the middle of the dome. In less than a minute, the entire marshmallow was toasted brown.

    The simplest low tech solution I've considered for the Firedome is covering the inside of the lid with heavy duty aluminum foil. I think the silver lining would reflect more heat than the black lid. I might give that a try before drilling another hole.

    Also, that large hole that Dave over at Weber Cam has on his Firedome is missing from mine. The added airflow might make increase the height of the flames in the back. From his reply to my question, I think some practice and fire management is needed too.

  7. Yeah, he didn't really answer your question on the hole, did he. I am interested in hearing how the foil works. Are you using charcoal or wood? Also, what is your estimated date of arrival for the WFO? I saw you are saving.

  8. I usually start the Firedome with a chimney of lump charcoal. Then I add some apple wood that I have from a neighbor's tree.

    Saving for the wood fired oven has brought some joy back to direct depositing a paycheck. I smile every time I see it. I think I'll have enough to start next summer, but I'd need to keep saving for the enclosure. So, I'd have enough money to build the oven and weatherproof it with stucco. I'd have to come back later to put walls up and finish the outside.

    The problem is deciding whether or not to move. Right now I think we are leaning towards moving and I'd hate to abandon a freshly built oven. I've been looking at some of the pre-built options from Forno Bravo too. Buying a kit would be faster but part of me really wants to build it myself. For now, I keep myself happy sketching things out in a CAD program. I think I might be able to get something decent off of that pizza steel too.