Firing and preheating the oven

When it's time to bake, the oven needs to be preheated. The desired temperature depends on what is going in the oven. Starting with a small hot fire just inside the door, I gradually push the fire to the back of the oven. I have found that keeping the fire smaller and hotter yields less smoke and heats the oven nicely. I have also found that it does not make a lot of difference whether hardwood or softwood is used. When making pizzas a small fire is always kept burning to maintain the heat level. I have that fire at the back of the oven, some people keep it on one side.

At this point I have not done much bread baking, mostly pizzas and focaccia breads. When we do pizzas, the oven walls, floor and ceiling are generally around 7-800 degrees. You would assume that placing a pizza on a surface that hot would incinerate it, that's where the brick oven crust comes from. Because the entire chamber is radiating heat, pizzas cook very quickly.

It usually takes a couple hours for the heat to soak evenly into the oven. The walls and ceiling get to a stage where the soot no longer sticks, at that point it's ready.I use a laser thermometer to check the temps.

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