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.