In this post, we will be sharing some tips and tricks on how to quickly fire up your Bello Oven.
What You'll Need:
These are the essential items to have before firing up the Bello Oven:
Food-grade wood fuel (wood pellets / wood chips / wood chunks)
Blowtorch or equivalent
Digital IR Thermometer (with a measurement range of 50°C to 500°C)
Water for yourself because maintaining a fire can be quite dehydrating!
Line the firebox with as much wood pellets / chips as possible, but maintaining its shape as it will need to be put into the oven once the fire is big enough.
We usually use a combination of both as pellets tend to smoke before catching fire, whereas wood chips catch flames much quicker.
We put in 3 to 4 fire-starters, spread around the firebox evenly.
Then we use the blowtorch to ignite the fire-starters. The duration for ignition and wood chips to catch a sizeable flame takes about 2 to 3 minutes.
At this point, most of the pellets and wood chips would have started burning. If so, it is ready to be put into the oven.
Ensure the Bello Oven front door is closed, with the door slotted behind the Safety Stopper.
Once the firebox is in the oven, resist the temptation to open the feeder box / oven front door to look at the fire / inside the oven.
With enough wood fuel at the start, after 5 to 7 minutes, the oven would have hit approximately 250°C. This can be checked via the analog thermometer on the oven.
At this point, you should add 3 to 4 handfuls of wood chips OR wood pellets into the feeder box to feed the fire.
After another 5 to 7 minutes, you should achieve approximately 350°C to 400°C on your oven's analog thermometer.
You would have noticed however that we recommended you to have a Digital IR Thermometer instead as they are usually more accurate, and it allows you to measure the oven floor instead, which is most crucial for baking pizzas.
We usually take about 20 to 25 minutes and a couple of feeds to get to 380°C on the analog thermometer.
In the photo on the right, the back of the oven and oven floor was already at 420°C, despite the analog thermometer showing 380°C.
The oven is now ready for cooking! Wasn't that easy? :)
Maintaining Your Fire:
Depending on the number of pizzas you are baking, you might want to continue keeping the oven well heated. To do so, you will need to feed the oven 2 to 3 handfuls of wood pellets / wood chips every 5 to 7 minutes to ensure the fire continues to burn strongly. Again, utilize the Digital IR Thermometer to check the temperature, instead of solely relying on the oven's analog thermometer.
Sometimes, in the midst of conversations and drinks you might be having in between the pizzas, you may forget to feed the fire. One tip we recommend would be to feed the fire wood chunks / hardwood charcoal. When the fire is above 300°C, wood chunks and hardwood charcoal will catch fire easily and because of the size and density of these fuel types, they maintain the heat and fire much longer then wood pellets and wood chips do. They can last up to 30 minutes, compared to wood pellets and wood chips which only last 5 to 7 minutes at most.
There you have it - essential tips to get your Bello Oven firing and cooking! Let us know in the comments below if you have any other tips and tricks on firing up the oven, or if you have any questions.
In the next few posts, we will be sharing more on topics such as where to buy these food-grade wood fuel most suitable for the Bello & Alfa Forni Ovens, and comparison of fuel types - what works best for which oven and why. Till then!