Using the oven's cleaning cycle to cook pizza
after being impressed with wood-fired oven pizza a few times (pizzas cooked at 750 deg F cook in under 2 min and taste better), resolved to build such an oven myself. lamented the scale/expense of the project, however, and looked for simpler options.
saw http://gadgets.boingboing.net/2009/05/01/how-to-build-the-ult.html and http://www.varasanos.com/PizzaRecipe.htm wherein people modified their electric ovens and achieved similar results.
got wife's permission, defeated oven lock & open door sensor on my oven, loaded oven with firebricks, ran 4 hour clean cycle, checked temperature periodically with IR non-contact temp probe like so:
obtained following temperature profile
this looked promising, so I bought more/cleaner/flatter bricks, including 1 granite tile ($5.50) and 2 slate tiles ($1.60 ea) to try in lieu of expensive ($20-40) pizza stones. loaded them in oven like so
lined oven bottom with kaowool to protect enamel from firebrick grating support.
cut a pizza peel (giant spatula) out of an aluminum cookie sheet from goodwill like so (shown with corn meal scattered on it to prevent sticking):
attempt #1 at making pizza: centers came out underdone due to excessive moisture in vegetables, while bottoms came out burnt (apparently including oil and sugar in dough promote burning). granite cracked after 1st use. slates were still ok.
attempt #2: swapped positions of granite and one of the slate tiles. tried again with (a) no sugar or oil in dough, (b) squeezing moisture out of veggies before use, and (c) wiping slate with damp rag before each pizza. results uniformly good, like so:
word to the wise: before trying to wipe 700+ degree slate in cramped quarters, best to put on a long welding glove like so: