When you first get one of our ovens there a few steps to take before you start feeding it all your delicious meals! It is best to fire up your oven for four hours at a gradual heat to let it prime.
Sometimes if your oven heated too quickly fine cracks can appear on the dome. Please be assured that hairline cracking is a completely normal expectation of any wood fired oven. Please note that our oven material is reinforced with micro mesh technology meaning that despite the cracks, it is still completely safe to use. As our ovens heat and cool, they will expand and contract, this is a normal expectation. Please note that the cracks will more likely appear larger when hot as the oven expands and contract when the oven gets cooler. They can also vary in size, so some cracks may be small and others slightly larger, again this is completely normal.
Please be assured that hairline cracking is purely cosmetic and will not affect the performance or longevity of your oven in any way. Our other advice would be that when you see these cracks appear do not add to the heat. Retain the heat as it is as heating it too quickly can lead to worse cracking.
During the manufacturing process water is used in the mix used to create the dome. When the oven is heated for the first time the oven will release this moisture either as steam or water. This shows the oven is drying as planned. So do not fear when where is water on the dome. After the first lighting the majority of the moisture will have escaped. The water you see is the moisture escaping from the dome through the cracks, which again is nothing to be concerned about. As you continue to use the oven all the moisture will have escaped and there would not be water coming out the dome. You should also be able to wipe off the residue.
Once this process is complete yet is now the perfect time to seal in your with The Stone Bake Oven Sealant. The sealant is used to apply a coating to stop frost getting into the oven and causing cracks, as you can imagine, the hairline cracks are the most exposed area so it is important to seal these to prevent frost from getting in.
Please note if you have an insulation kit, it is still best to fire up your oven once before it is insulated built in. although as this will be contained in render/brickwork sealant is not essential. You can still use the sealant on render to help protect it from frost damage.
Firstly before you light anything you need to make sure you’re using the right type of wood. There are only two types of wood we would recommend using in our wood fired ovens.
In a nutshell our Capo Forresta are 100% beech briquettes, (a compressed baton of beech sawdust) sourced from France. What’s really special about this wood is that each briquette has a moisture content of less than 7%, which means their heat output is second to none. Another benefit is that you can simply knock them against a hard surface to break them apart. No axe needed! You can buy our Capo Forresta wood here.
Kiln Dried Wood
Alternatively, we can also recommend using kiln dried, hard wood that has a moisture content of under 20%. Keep an eye out for wood otherwise known as ‘seasoned logs.’ ‘Seasoned logs’ are marketed as being very dry but their moisture content is much higher than 20%, so you will want to avoid these if you want your wood to burn cleanly and efficiently.
- STONE BAKE TIP: All wood, whether it is briquettes or kiln dried logs, must be stored in a dry place to be effective.
- STONE BAKE TIP: If you are seeing an excess of smoke in your oven, you are likely to be using a soft, sappy wood or a wood with a high moisture content. Swap this for a kiln dried hard wood or beech briquettes for a cleaner burn.
The Firing Up Process
- Using either your Capo Forresta or kiln dried wood, form a kindling stack in the centre of the oven. Note that your kindling needs to be approximately 3 inches wide and 10 inches long.
- Place a natural fire lighter into the centre of your kindling stack, making sure air can get to the wood to allow for efficient burning.
- Light the fire lighter and once the kindling has caught fire, leave it to burn and the stack will begin to collapse
- Once you have got your fire going, you can begin to feed the fire with more wood to help build a more aggressive fire.
- As the oven starts to approach higher temperatures, add small logs and later larger ones.
- Once the oven is up to temperature, you will notice that there will be a small amount of smoke. A good way to sense when the oven has reached its optimum temperature is to look out for a clear patch above the fire where the soot has completely diminished.
- Once your oven has reached it’s optimum temperature, you can then move your embers to the back or the side of your oven using our metal pizza peel.
- Depending on what you are cooking, you may want to allow your oven to cool.
- For pizza cooking, you will need to maintain a large rolling flame in the oven by adding more wood to the fire as needed to maintain this temperature.
- STONE BAKE TIP: Don’t be afraid to add wood to your fire. Sometimes we find that customers struggle to reach their ovens optimum temperature simply because they are not adding enough wood.
- STONE BAKE TIP: Always make sure that your wood fired oven reaches it’s optimum temperature of roughly 450°c, even if you are cooking with a lower temperature. This way it ensures that the dome and base are saturated with heat, which is essential for heat retention for longer cooking periods.
Now all that’s left to do is enjoy your wood fired oven!
Be sure to check out our ‘Firing up’ video, which you can find on our website here.