Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Reflections On A Brick Oven Cafe

For over ten years I owned a brick oven cafe where pizza was our specialty, and I was never pleased with the oven. It took me a very long time to figure out what the problem was.
The brick oven was beautifully designed and built, but unfortunately it was the wrong oven to suit our needs. It was simply too big. Sure, we could put a lot food in the oven, but it took much too long to cook. Our problem was that we were never able to get the oven hot enough to bake the pizzas quickly. Ideally, we were looking for a floor temperature of 700ยบ F, and our bake time would be about three minutes per pizza, but it took us about ten minutes to bake a pizza, and that’s much too long.
Our oven never really came up to the proper temperature until we were ready to close!
Okay, it would not heat up quickly because under our firebrick floor was a massive six inch thick concrete, heat sink slab. The slab was sucking all the important heat out of the oven, and it wouldn’t “return it” until closing time. Now this would have been fine if we were operating 24 hours a day, but we weren’t. Also, it would have been fine if we were a commercial bakery, but we weren’t.
We should have constructed an oven half the size with the firebrick floor sitting directly on the foam glass insulation. This would have allowed the oven to come up to temperature quickly, and I would have been a happy cafe owner.