After the adobe oven had dried off for a few days, we removed the sandcastle former by scraping it away from the inside. We lit a fire in the centre of the oven, using scrap wood, newspaper and some barbecue fuel, and let it burn for a few hours.
A couple of days later, we fired it up again, this time using scrap wood and barbecue charcoal bricquets. After a couple of hours or so it had reached a temperature of 550F. The outside walls of the oven steamed as the water evaporated away, and some hairline cracks appeared around the door – this is normal (they closed up when the oven cooled).
After removing the larger pieces of wood, and making enough space to cook a pizza, we cleaned the oven floor’s surface using a damp towel nailed to a long stick. That created a lot of steam! We were careful to remove all the sand and ash from where we wanted to bake – nobody likes a sandy pizza. Then we used some of Trader Joe’s fresh dough to make a simple pizza, and placed it inside – it cooked in a few minutes, and we had to turn it a few times to stop it burning.
(Normally we make our own pizza dough, but for this first experiment we liked the convenience of pre-made.)
The taste was amazing – especially the crust, which had a characteristic aroma and taste particular to pizza from a good Italian restaurant. There must be some chemical change associated with the very high temperature, that you don’t get in a domestic oven.
We cooked a couple more pizzas, and then removed all the charcoal and wood by scraping them out into a metal container partly filled with water. Then we put a small loaf of bread dough in to cook, closed off the door of the oven. It was ready after about 40 minutes. This also turned out to be delicious … with a slight hint of smokiness in the crust.