Maximus: My first attempt

  • So after much procrastination I bit the bullet and ordered a Maximus in red, great special on at the moment. Picked it up at the courier depot, quite surprisingly the shipping cost was much better than expected; $140 to Port Macquarie. I'm going to do my best to share my experience with the oven and also my Qld room makeover (see my other post) with everybody. mostly as a way of saying thanks for the suggestions so far, and of course to solicit more opinions and ideas.


    I received the oven a week or so ago but conflicting priorities meant I couldn't do the initial burn in until Saturday. Went low for 5 or 6 hours. Was very surprised that the temp didn't reach above 150 degrees or so, I thought I was going to have to be very careful. I actually thought the thermometer was broken.





    Eventually I pushed the fire over to the side, added more wood and closed the door. The temp then got nice and hot, hitting 400c. I cut a 1/2 pumpkin into think bits, seasoned and oiled and baked for a while, covering with foil when it started to char a little. About 30-40 mins I reckon. The temp had cooled down significantly by this time. I followed with a capsicum so I could peel and slice, both intended for pizza ingredients.




    Both these came out beautifully, so on to the dough. I had fresh yeast from the bakers, used Lighthouse bread & pizza 00 flour and had been rising for 24 hours (in fridge). I was lazy and used a dough hook to mix, there was too many other things going on to do by hand. It had roughly doubled in size, so a good start. I probably didn't take enough time to shape by hand, something to focus on next time. I also forgot what a pain in the ass it is making dough, I had flour from one end of the kitchen to the other. I'm sure it will improve with time, but I made a mental note to check with a couple of the good local pizzerias to see if they sell pizza dough balls. I also saw Woolies have fresh dough balls, both might be worth checking out to save all that farting around.


    So on to the pizza; first up with ham and cheese (Mutti finely chopped tomatoes with pinch of salt and sugar as base, cow's mozzarella (sliced), serrano ham. Basic for but the little one. Popped it in and ended up burning the crap out of the base of it, on one side. Floor too hot and I left it too long. Only half edible.


    Next one was with roast pumpkin, bit of the ham, roast capsicum, topped with baby spinach leaves. Chunked the mozzarella this time based on feedback.


    I thought it turned out great, although was told it was too doughy. Fair enough, next time.







    I think part of my issue was the fire taking up too much space, I wasn't game to pull out to triangle stand thingy as I new I'd either burn myself or something else. So it got shoved to the side and along with the wood just took up too much space. This meant a really hot side and a not so hot side (pizza cooking area) and I really had problems turning the pizza as it was cooking. All stuff to practice.


    So what I've learnt and what I need to figure out; (this is where you all jump in and 'show me the light')


    - A far less messy way of getting a good dough with the least amount of effort. Will try alternatives as mentioned above. Ingredients (ideally) I should be able to buy easily. I'm not spoiled for choice where I live;
    - Got to figure out the whole heat thing. Too hot, not hot enough, size of logs, how to minimise smoke (I'm now thinking twice about putting it in my screened QLD room). Might get one of those heat guns and figure out what the ideal floor temp should be
    - Have to get better at giving myself more room to cook. And learning not to singe the kitchen sweep brush when clearing the ash for cooking prep.
    - Need to think about the amount of smoke it gives off, especially on initial lighting.


    Do I love it? Not yet. That was a lot of messing around to get a few average pizzas.


    Do I see the potential? Absolutely. I'm just impatient and would have liked to have nailed it first go.


    Cheers
    Sean

    • Official Post

    Great first post with the new toy.


    A couple of suggestions....


    Take out the wire rack with a pair of long tongs and a good glove (like a welders glove from Bunnings). I don't always use that wire rack anyway. Sometimes I'll just build a pile of wood with a couple of Samba firelighters in the middle to get it going. I like having the fire in the middle initially as it burns off the crap from last time.


    I don't push the heat shield all the way over once it's lit, I leave a small gap between the plate and the side wall which makes the fire burn better but I do still have plenty of room for the paddle to go in.


    To turn the pizza, take it out, turn it on the paddle and put it back in. I usually find one half turn is enough and cooking time only a couple of minutes. Temperature on the dial would be 250-300.


    I close the door when cooking and to get the oven up to temp once the fire is really going well.


    Use small logs so they burn hotter and don't smoulder.


    I did burn the base of the pizzas once but that was because I had the fire going too long before we started cooking and the floor obviously got too hot. But that's only happened once and it was a very long time before we cooked so it's not usually an issue.


    If you have a wire trivett like from a Weber Q, use that to sit the capsicum on and it roasts really well before cooking the pizza. Again, keep turning it with long tongs.


    I use a hard brush I got from Bunnings to sweep out the ash but as you found, you need to be careful that it doesn't burn. I cut the end off the brush and screwed it back on the handle so it's flat. Works a treat.


    To get rid of excess ash, use a metal pipe as a blower. I crushed one end down a bit so it works better. The pipe is also from Bunnings.


    Keep at it, these ovens are bloody great.

    Big Green Egg - Asmoke Pellet Grill - Weber Kettle - Maximus Pizza Oven - Dragon Hibachi - Ziggy Portable - baby kamado - Grillz 2 burner - Cobb BBQ - Converted Gas Bottle Spit - Charbroil Grill2go - Anova sous vide - Digi Q controller - plus Tip Top Temp - Smokeware cap - Grill Grates

    • Official Post

    PS, I can't help with the making of the dough, we use a Thermomix for that and it's perfect with no mess.


    I'm sure @Narm Naleg will reply and he's the dough expert.

    Big Green Egg - Asmoke Pellet Grill - Weber Kettle - Maximus Pizza Oven - Dragon Hibachi - Ziggy Portable - baby kamado - Grillz 2 burner - Cobb BBQ - Converted Gas Bottle Spit - Charbroil Grill2go - Anova sous vide - Digi Q controller - plus Tip Top Temp - Smokeware cap - Grill Grates

    • Official Post

    Thanks for the update, love seeing the Maximus in action!



    A far less messy way of getting a good dough with the least amount of effort.

    I use a very large SS bowl and mix by hand directly in it. Honestly, it doesn't take long, is not much effort and no mess because it is all contained within the bowl.




    Ingredients (ideally) I should be able to buy easily.

    Don't buy your dough. It's really easy once you get the hang of it. IMO no sugar in the dough and no sugar on the pizza. The ingredients are easily available everywhere.
    I usually use dry granulated yeast packets. It may not be the best, like a sourdough starter, but it does the job just fine and I always have them handy in the kitchen cupboard.
    1Kg of good flour
    650ml of tepid water (give or take, add more water if you think it's too dry or more flour if it gets too wet)
    1 yeast packet (7g)
    30g of salt
    Mix the yeast in half the water and the salt in the other half.
    Add the yeast water to the flour first, mix in, then repeat with the salt water.
    After you've mixed for a few minutes give the dough a 10 minute rest. Mix some more and prove the dough till you're ready (you can make the dough balls half way through the proving too).


    You can make 6-7 pizzas with the recipe above. Or make 3-4 pizzas and one focaccia (once the oven has cooled to under 200c).


    Have to get better at giving myself more room to cook. And learning not to singe the kitchen sweep brush when clearing the ash for cooking prep.

    Your metal barrier seems too far towards the middle. Once your fire is strong you should move it further to the left so you have more room.
    How to move it when so hot? Get yourself a long, hard, one piece (not hinged) pair of old style tongs and wear a BBQ mitt or glove as suggested by Gumb. The alternative is to use some fireplace type tools. One of the advantages of Maximus is that it isn't all that deep, so you don't need very extra long tools.



    - Have to get better at giving myself more room to cook. And learning not to singe the kitchen sweep brush when clearing the ash for cooking prep.

    Turning the pizza can be done as Gumb suggested or the way I like to do it, which is by using a palettino (pizza peel with a small diameter head): https://www.cateringequipment.…18-8-500mm-hdl-200mm-dia/
    The best $14 you'll spend!
    I use a wooden peel to launch the pizza into the oven (slides better off wood) and the palettino to turn and retrieve.


    As for the ashes, I use the palettino or the tongs to move them off the space where the pizza is going. A minute amount of ash shouldn't be a problem.




    Need to think about the amount of smoke it gives off, especially on initial lighting.

    Keep the door closed on startup. It might take a few extra minutes to get going, but it's still quick and all the smoke will go out through the flue.



    Might get one of those heat guns and figure out what the ideal floor temp should be

    If you mean a laser infrared thermometer, then absolutely. It will tell you the floor temp, which should be at (minimum) 400c for Neapolitan style pizza cooked in 90 seconds. Watch out as some of them only go up to a certain temp.



    - Got to figure out the whole heat thing.

    Get the oven to temp, which should take about 30 minutes or so. Then keep it there by feeding small chunks of wood (every few minutes).
    I've found 450c to be perfect for Neapolitan, but 400c will do.

  • Awesome first post mate nothing like a wood fired pizza ! I’m sure it will give you and your friends and family lots of memories

    Black 3200, charcoal kettle, Akorn J, Gmg Daniel boone

    • Official Post

    One thing I did with the paddle they supplied was to round off the back corners with a grinder. They kept catching on the sides of the door as I pulled the thing out from the oven.

    Big Green Egg - Asmoke Pellet Grill - Weber Kettle - Maximus Pizza Oven - Dragon Hibachi - Ziggy Portable - baby kamado - Grillz 2 burner - Cobb BBQ - Converted Gas Bottle Spit - Charbroil Grill2go - Anova sous vide - Digi Q controller - plus Tip Top Temp - Smokeware cap - Grill Grates

  • So following on from all the great advice I fired up the oven again last night for attempt #2.


    My first priority was to sort out the dough making. I wanted to test three different ones; a homemade one (with some help from the Kitchenaid mixer with dough hook), a Wollies pre-made dough ball, and a dough made in my bread maker. I didn't do the last one as the recipe called for some ingredients I didn't have, so it came down to a shoot out between the first two. My primary goal was to make it easy with little mess as possible. I will say that this time it seemed easier, I'm putting it down to trying to do too many things at once and being disorganised during the first attempt. My wife was thrilled to come home and find there wasn't flour from one end of the kitchen to the other..


    Here's the dough side by side. Two on the left are Woolies, the four on the right are home made (Narm's recipe). Photo taken after both were under a damp towel for most of the day.



    I got my tools in order, a pipe to blow the ash, a good pair of gloves and a modified broom to sweep the ashes. Also purchased a second peel with all rounded corners, thought it would be handy to have a second. Split my hardwood nice and small, put a battery in my new infrared thermometer and cracked a cold beer.


    Cranked up the fire and fed it pretty aggressively for 30 mins. I struggled to get the floor temp above 350c, something I'm going to have to work on. Each pizza (guessing) took about 3 mins to cook, 3 or 4 turns with the door closed between.


    The result? Certainly still some room for improvement, but redemption from my first effort. Thin and crispy crust, just the right amount of char, delicious!


    This one is prawn, chilli and garlic. Not the most perfect shape, but I like rustic...





    So my learnings from second attempt.


    - There was really no difference in the two types of dough, both were great. I'll stick to making my own though, it really is quite easy


    - I need to work on getting my floor temps up a bit.


    - My oven is currently in a temporary location out by the pool until I give my QLD room a makeover (coming soon!). It was a very long, drawn out process of making 6 pizzas back to back by yourself. Once I get all closer to my kitchen it might be easier, especially having two peels, and hopefully being able to recruit one of my kids to help (who all unfortunately think it's a restaurant).


    - I'd ideally like to achieve a crust that is more puffed up on the outside.


    - I used semolina on the peel, acted like a zillion little marbles, made launching a breeze. I might try cutting the flour with 20% semolina next time to see if I can get a little more texture.


    Finally, don't get so busy that you forget to light the other wood fire...


    • Official Post

    Great news that it's coming along and the results are better. My wife is the pizza maker and I do the cooking, which does make things easier but if you have a few guests over, it's more difficult making them because you need to keep them coming but the production line isn't that fast. It's probably the main reason we just cook them for the two of us and not worry too much about feeding a hungry hoard.


    I wouldn't be t too hung up on the floor temperature, I'd have very little idea of what mine gets to. I just crank it up, wait a short while and get the temp gauge up to between 250 and 300 and I'm good to go.


    When the pizzas are finished, try using some of the left over dough and make a focaccia or two. It's easy once the oven gets back down to about 200c and they come out great.


    I think I mentioned this before but once the fire is pushed to the side, I roast a capsicum on a trivet, which then gets sliced up to go on the pizzas. They go nice and black and it also gives the oven a bit more time to heat up.


    I tend to put a small bit of wood on half way through so I've still got flame across the roof. You can even lift the pizza up to the roof and just under the flames with the peel at the end and that gives the top a nice char.

    Big Green Egg - Asmoke Pellet Grill - Weber Kettle - Maximus Pizza Oven - Dragon Hibachi - Ziggy Portable - baby kamado - Grillz 2 burner - Cobb BBQ - Converted Gas Bottle Spit - Charbroil Grill2go - Anova sous vide - Digi Q controller - plus Tip Top Temp - Smokeware cap - Grill Grates

    • Official Post

    @seana that prawn pizza looks fantastic! If you want the border to be puffed up make sure you leave a little more dough there when you're stretching the pizza ball out. You need stretch out the pizza by hand and not use a rolling pin (which will squish all your precious air out of the dough).
    You might also need to get the temp a little higher. Don't forget that neapolitan needs 450c (minimum 400c). The higher temp gives the dough a delicious shock and it bounces up more than you'll get at lower temps.


    Many people add semolina to the dough. Personally I don't like the texture. A bit on the peel is a good idea though.


    There is a learning curve to anything and pizza making has its own, but the rewards are awesome. You're well on your way! :thumbup:

    • Official Post

    Don't forget that neapolitan needs 450c (minimum 400c).

    Narm, can you confirm that you are talking about floor temperature measured by an IR gun, not the temperature on the dial ?

    Big Green Egg - Asmoke Pellet Grill - Weber Kettle - Maximus Pizza Oven - Dragon Hibachi - Ziggy Portable - baby kamado - Grillz 2 burner - Cobb BBQ - Converted Gas Bottle Spit - Charbroil Grill2go - Anova sous vide - Digi Q controller - plus Tip Top Temp - Smokeware cap - Grill Grates

  • Semolina on the peel works a treat ! I remember when I first started making pizzas and how I used struggle so much until I seen this trick

    Black 3200, charcoal kettle, Akorn J, Gmg Daniel boone

    • Official Post

    Narm, can you confirm that you are talking about floor temperature measured by an IR gun, not the temperature on the dial ?

    That's right. I know I'm spot on the temp when the floor is 450c as measured by my ir thermo. Obviously that only applies for Neapolitan style pizza, which has a fluffy airy edge and is not crackly. Cooked in 90 seconds. That's my favourite style of pizza, but it is a little tricky to get right.

    • Official Post

    Thanks. I just wanted to make that clear for seana because when I first got mine, I spent a long time trying to get to 450c and never got there, thinking you meant to thermometer. ;(

    Big Green Egg - Asmoke Pellet Grill - Weber Kettle - Maximus Pizza Oven - Dragon Hibachi - Ziggy Portable - baby kamado - Grillz 2 burner - Cobb BBQ - Converted Gas Bottle Spit - Charbroil Grill2go - Anova sous vide - Digi Q controller - plus Tip Top Temp - Smokeware cap - Grill Grates

    • Official Post

    My maximus wall thermometer is very unreliable. In a small oven like the maximus if you get the floor to 450c the rest will be around the same temp. Worst case use the peel to lift the pizza off the floor to stop the bottom from cooking faster than the top.

    Masterbuilt Gravity 800 | Maximus Pizza Oven | GMG - Daniel Boone | Cyprus Grill | Big Steel Keg | Blackstone Griddle | Fire Pit | Weber Genesis |

  • Has anyone checked the current price on these ? They are now $1795 !! 8|


    I think I paid around $800 for mine.

    Big Green Egg - Asmoke Pellet Grill - Weber Kettle - Maximus Pizza Oven - Dragon Hibachi - Ziggy Portable - baby kamado - Grillz 2 burner - Cobb BBQ - Converted Gas Bottle Spit - Charbroil Grill2go - Anova sous vide - Digi Q controller - plus Tip Top Temp - Smokeware cap - Grill Grates

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