Learning the Heat Zones of a Mugnaini Oven
Your Mugnaini wood-fired oven may be regulated for three basic heat environments to accomplish various cooking styles. Each may be achieved simply by visual inspection after the initial oven pre-heat. They are as follows:
1. Pizza Oven (floor temp 650° F)
The Pizza Oven Environment refers to an oven that has been fired to maximum temperature. The goal is to saturate the floor and dome with heat, build up a large sized bed of coals, and maintain a large rolling flame. When the oven is up to temperature there is no visible black (carbon build up) on the dome. Once the fire is banked to either side for cooking, there should be a large fire with the flame following the curve of the dome, reaching to the center of the oven. If using a hand held thermometer the floor should read approximately 650°F. Pizzas are baked right on the floor next to the fire. The door is left off during Pizza baking and smaller pieces of wood are added approximately every 20 minutes to maintain a large flame.
2. Roasting Oven (floor temp 550° F)
The Roasting Oven Environment refers to an oven that has first been prepped to reach Pizza Oven temperatures and then allowed to drop in temperature. The goal is to have a deep constant heat throughout the oven for initial searing and then allow the oven to slowly drop in temperature to the desired level. There should be a medium sized bed of coals and a small flame 2-4 inches high, without any visible black on the dome. The door may be left off for shorter roasting times (under one hour) or positioned inside the arch opening to help regulate the heat for hours of roasting. The door is used to regulate both the air coming in to fuel the fire and the exhaust going up the chimney. Experiment with the exact placement of the door in order to neither extinguish the fire or create a smoky environment. If the oven is cooling off, add more wood and open the door more. Inspect food periodically during roasting and use the different heat zones in the oven to adjust for temperature. For example, move your pan deeper into the oven for more heat or forward for less heat. Add small pieces of wood as needed to maintain temperature. Roasting temperatures may start as high as 600°F for initial searing and drop to no less than 450°F.
3. Bake Oven (floor temp 450°F)
The Bake Oven Environment refers to an oven environment that has first been prepped to reach Pizza Oven temperature for total heat saturation, possibly used for other cooking, and then allowed to drop in temperature. The goal is to create a deep even heat throughout the entire oven to bake items that do not need the high heat or browning that a live fire provides. You are actually cooking with the retained heat in the oven dome and floor. The door is positioned inside the arch to completely close the oven. There should be no live flame at this time but some live coals are fine. As an option to create a very evenly heated oven, or to hold the temperature, maintain the fully closed oven for at least thirty minutes and then remove the door to check the floor temperature. If the oven is too hot, leave the door off for 10 minutes then put the door back in place for 5 minutes before checking the temperature again. A floor temperature of 450°F works well for baked pastas, casseroles or fruit cobblers. To bake, simply place your dish in the oven and close the door. If there are live coals in the oven keep the door cracked so the oven does not get smoky. You may wish to elevate delicate items off the floor after initial searing by using a trivet or inverted sheet pan to avoid overcooking.