Struggling with floor temp

Ok I have fired my oven few times and I am struggling with getting the floor temp over 600 degrees. when it is time to slide the pie in. how does the floor heat with super hot embers or a rolling flame or both
and how much times do the ember have to be on the area where you are going to bake the pie. It seems that I can get the floor to about 700 and then I rake the coals to one side, go in make the pie on the peel and come and the floor temp is under 600
I am not leaving the coals on long enough and why do not they radiate heat from the coal bed - need some tips my last two pies were under cooked but edges were crispy. :(i think i had the edges to close to the coal bed )
Also is better to cook front to back or side to side? I know Matt will answer I need some help

Hi Dino!

If you’re able to get your floor temp to 700°F, you’re on the right track. Here’s a couple of thoughts to get you the rest of the way.

  • I am presuming that you’re starting “low and slow,” then building up to a roaring hot fire. If you want pizza, you do not ever put the door on. (In the early stages, you can put the door in front of the oven mouth, leaving some space, to protect your developing fire from excessive wind; otherwise, strictly no door.)
  • Each time you add wood splits (3 at a time), push the stack a little further back into your oven. By the third time, you’re going to push it against the back wall, with a bed of glowing hot embers under 3 or 4 blazing logs. The flames should reach the top of the arch, and then fan out about a third of the way across the top. Any soot that was on the walls from about midway back should have burned off by now, and your firebrick in that zone should look like the day you laid it.
  • Once you have that all working, which should take just over an hour from setting a match to the kindling, you should be ready for baking.

The floor in front of your fire-pile (I just made up that term!) will heat up by radiation and convection from the burning embers. The top of your pizza is essentially going to roast from the flames overhead, as well as reflected and radiant heat from the arch firebrick. The key is to make sure you are feeding your fire—as a rule of thumb, one or two splits every 15-20 minutes while you are baking. When you add them, first poke into the ember bed to settle the coals from above into it and knock off any ash that might be insulating the embers. Then add your new splits. They will start burning quickly.

This will take care of most of the issues you detailed, and give you both a well-crisped bottom and thoroughly cooked top. (You’ll know it’s working because you will see items like cheese start to bubble, and hear a sizzle as steam escapes from under the ingredients.)

The other thing you must do when cooking front to back is to use a long-handled “banjo” peel to turn your pizzas while they are baking. All your radiant heat is coming from the back, so you have to dig in and involve yourself in making sure each part of the pizza gets its turn to bask. A long-handled peel currently runs for about $50 on Amazon. This is the one I use, but the things to look for are a perforated pan, stainless steel fabrication, a very long handle, and a sliding grip.

This type of peel is just about useless for sliding your pies in and out of the oven, but it is priceless for rotating or turning items while they are baking. You can also use it for tending to your ember pile or shifting splits.

So, my last recommendation is to keep an eye on your baking pizzas, which are going to cook very quickly; and use the banjo peel to lift up each pizza and rotate it a quarter turn. About once a minute seems to work for me.

I hope this helps, Dino, and I know others may chime in here as well. Keep us posted on your progress!