How to keep deck oven clean?

I have a Blodgett 961p double deck. I have been open about 6 weeks. I am up to a whooping $3000 grand a week. I started using a 50/50 flour semolina mixture, which I like, because it slides off the peels easily. But the semolina is messy. It appears as a burnt product in the bottom of the box. I dont like that. I cut the pizza on a cut board because I use a B-flute corrugated liner. We are consistently having to clean the cut board and the pizza stone.

So a couple weeks ago I switched to just flour (no semolina). Not as messy, but still some messy. I miss the semolina because it came off the peel easier. but just flour makes a better looking crust, and not as much residue. I use a tool to clean keep the the oven stone clean during service. It has a hard side to scrape and the other side is wire brush.

Is there a better tool, or is there a better idea that I dont know about on maintaining the deck oven during service. I have a lot of experience at chain pizza shops, using conveyor belt ovens, but not much with deck ovens. Mostly just info from “think tank past post” and “youtube”. I would appreciate any help.

Use a damp mop during the day to clean the surface of the oven.

Hey ddariel I had thought i would love to use some wet mop or rag, which I do before the shift begins; before I turn on the oven. But is it okay once the stone is 525 degrees. I was afraid it might crack the stone.

Welcome to the wonderful world of deck ovens! What you are experiencing is just one of the many reasons why the chains and many independents have so readily embraced the “conveyor” ovens. What you are experiencing and doing is pretty SOP (standard operating procedure) for any kind of deck/stone hearth oven. I personally think it adds a certain amount of appeal to the finished pizza…the pizzas don’t appear to be so “sterile”, besides it also contributes to the flavor of the pizza too.
If you want to experiment to see if you can use less peel dust you might try experimenting with wheat bran, find corn meal, (you already know about semolina flour), and rice flour to see if by using one of these or including it in your peel dust blend you can effectively reduce the amount of peel dust you’re using which will result in less of it going into the oven…still, you’re going to need to use the oven broom/rake regularly during the production day, but maybe not quite as often.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Do not use a “wet” mop, use a damp mop and it will be fine when the oven is on. We did this for 30 years until we switched over to the Edge conveyor oven almost 6 years ago.

Hey Tom

Thanks man. I don’t know what I would do without you. My entire restaurant is based on all your advice. And people are loving the crust.

Hey ddareil I am going to guy buy cheap mop with a fixed head. I cant wait to try that tonight. half way though the shift the stone is looking pretty rough. All the toppings that fell off, and flour, and cheese falling off the cheese sticks.

Hey JT Thanks for the reply, Yeah man you cant beat a deck oven crust.
Can I ask you a few questions.

  1. on heavily topped Pizzas you use a screen, so you cook for a few minutes on the screen then get rid of the screen for the remaining 6 or 7 minutes, or you cook it for 6 minutes on the screen then get rid of the screen the last 2 minutes? That Idea is massive help.

  2. Do you handle 15k with one double deck? I am doing 3000 now and my goal is 7500. I cannot imagine the chaos in 7500 let alone 15000. I have seen chain conveyor belt stores do $7000 in one night, but deck oven is just a different beast in efficiency. Do you have any tips?

  3. Is it important once you spin the pizza 180 degrees half way through cooking times that you make sure it stays in the same spot?

We cook heavy Pies and request for crispy 75% on the stone and then slide screen underneath the oie to finish. I tried on the screen 1st and I didn’t like that the crust lost all semolina and flour.

Our ovens are luckily pretty full, so we spin in the same spot. You need to. Know your hot spots and that will determine how important placement is.

We have double stack Montague 25-P’s, so 2 decks. Yes, it gets hectic. We also sell by the slice, subs and bread sticks. A good oven person and Expo are essential. We do go an hour wait at times, but most don’t mind. Some complain, but we always quote wait times befor they order, to give them the option to wait or not…

Get a laser temp, if you don’t have one. And teach your team to not open the oven doors every 30 seconds…

Why do you put a screen under it the last 25%. I thought the reason you were using the screen is because loaded pizza can be hard to get off the peel?

I have not figured out my hot spots yet, I wish I knew. I do think they cook faster all the way to the back.

Did you notice your original post is gone, weird

Good Idea on the laser temp, I do have one I use for the dough, I never thought about pointing in the oven, to find hot spots.

a good oven person is hard to come by around here.

I never even heard of the Montague ovens but they look cool, kinda of a cross between bakers pride and Blodggett.

And lastly I replied in a post you made about “A custom POS”. my post got flagged I guess because I posted his website and phone #. But yes William is amazing with that Point-of -Success stuff, by the way his last name is spelled Klaehan

How did it work out for you?

How clean are we talking? We just use an oven brush to sweep the oven out when it builds up. Oils and heavy buildups can be “burned off” by cranking the oven up to 650 for a little bit but we rarely even have to do that.

Like I said though, I’m not sure how clean you’re shooting for. If you want your stones to look brand new forever, I can’t suggest anything other than, it’s not going to matter. Unless you’re planning on reselling, oven stains will not change anything other than the visual appearance of the stone. If they get too bad for your liking, flip the stones over every (insert interval here).

If you’re just trying to get out burned flour, or whatever you’re using for dusting the peel, get an oven brush. It’s what they are made to do. It’s all you need. Takes maybe 20 seconds to scrape and sweep the deck clean. Sure it won’t be sparkling, but it’s going to be clean enough to not have burned remanence on the bottom of the next pie.

Personally I’d never put a mop in my oven… we have an open kitchen and our customers would shit if they watched the guys start mopping the inside of the oven with a mop. Clean or not they will assume it’s just a mop pulled from the rotation of floor mops.

Our guys use to clean with water. It worked but bakers pride once mentioned to me stories of stones cracking. While it never once happened after thousands of cleanings, it wasn’t worth the risk on our original stones. After we stopped, we all realized it was a waste of time anyway, but we did it because it just seemed like it would do something “better”. It didn’t.

Hey DDariel Thanks for the tip on the mop. I did not not actually use a mop for the cleaning. I just damped a hand towel, folded and shoved it around real fast with the wire side of my stone brush. I was just thinking that any moisture would shock the stone and possibly crack but it works great. I liketo do that about once per hour of heavy use. thanks

Hey Noreason I am not concerned with reselling at all. I am probably mostly an “obsessive overthinking new shop owner” I want every pizza to be perfect.

I didn’t realize you would have to scrape the stone so often. All this residue left in there messes up the next pizza. Every time I go to load a pizza I find my self searching for a spot with no residue. First of all the wire side of the brush don’t do shit. The scraper will get rid of the bulk stuff, but it seems to leave the finer stuff that only a moist rag removes. Maybe the wire side of my brush is not very good quality. So in a nutshell thats my problem, the scraping side works great, but the wire brush side is not doing shit for the finer residue.

Does your scraper/brush have wire on the brush side or another material.

I saw a brush on amazon that has a wide brush base, and it looks like you sweep side to side instead of back and forth.

I use your standard issue pizza oven brush like the one in the image.

Brushing the oven is just a part of working a deck oven. I’ve never overthought it I guess.

I’m not certain what kind of mess you’re making to have it effect the next pizza. You should easily be able to use the same spot of the oven many many times before needing to sweep the oven if you’re using flour. If you’re using something grittier like semolina or cornmeal, you’d have to sweep more often but definitely not every pizza…

You say you have to use the scraper which tells me your guys are making big messes in there. Shit happens for sure, but you shouldn’t have to scrape too often.

What is the oven temp? We cook at about 550-575. Things burn fast at this temp and sweep out without a problem.

I’m not trying to say that having a perfectly sterile bottom on your pizza is a bad thing, but I don’t know… are you sure you’re dealing with an actual problem? Just saying because deck ovens are going to give you a lot more of these characteristics that might drive you more insane than a bit of dust on the bottom… char marks, constantly rotating, burning the bottom, undercooked bottoms, half burned pizzas because you forgot to rotate, I mean the list is pretty long and I’d take a bit of flour on the bottom over any of the above…

You should change your name to Voiceofreason. I think I may be overthinking it. Considering I have eaten a pizza every night for 2 months now on an unsterlie bottom and it taste good.

I use the same deck brush you use, but I just don’t feel satisfied with the amount of residue it does not clear. But maybe it does not matter that much.

I am running at 525 measured by a cheap oven thermometer, But my laser temp shows the stone at some locations 577 to 533. I ran it at 550 for a couple of days and it seem to cook a couple minutes faster but found the fresh ground beef was not getting cooked.

Thanks for your reply noreason, I will just try to not worry about the fine residue for a while and see if that stays up to my standards.

A damp mop will not crack the stone a saturated wet mop might.

At my shop we use cornmeal that goes on wood peel. We then rock, cut to size, top and then the pizza goes right onto the stone on the top oven. After 5-6 minutes we move it down to the bottom oven which I have 3-28" screens that stay down there all night. Each time pizza goes to bottom we quickly scrape cornmeal on top stone so it’s clean and ready for new pizza. We do anywhere from $1,000-$5,000 a night. So top oven pizzas directly on stones 6 minute, bottom on screen for 6 minutes. Chicago styles and pans we have different procedures such as capping with a thin pan for an extended time. So basically the top oven cooks the bottom of the pizzas and bottom cooks the top of the cheese. The system is little crazy but it works for us. I have old bakers pride oven and we run it around 500 and turn up on weekends to compensate for doors. I go through about 3-6 brushes a year because we use it so much but if I changed from the cornmeal and wooden peels it would completely change how are pizzas are made and people seem to love them. We take a plain washcloth that is damp with hot water and clean both stones really good everyday before we open. That has tremendously kept our stones looking clean and helps ensure pizzas aren’t getting burnt. Nothing you can do about cornmeal getting into oven without using screens and spray or thin pans. If it’s working don’t change it but my advice to you is keep those stones clean and if you do it everyday it’s takes five minutes of your time.

You move every pie from the top oven to the bottom oven? What exactly is happening if you leave them in the top oven and cook the pizza “normally”? Seems strange to me, but then again I’ve seen some wild stuff that works.

That’s a very good question. I guess we started doing it in the beginning that way because of the procedures we set, the sizes of our pizzas (12"-24"). The size of the oven (only 2 stones) and the volume of pizzas as well.

Since a deck/stone oven requires a lot of maintenance and attention to detail as well as the sizes of our pizzas, it was just easier to have 3 jumbo screens on the bottom oven.

If i don’t screen a pizza-the bottom of the pizza gets to dark and burns and same with the edges if I don’t rotate the pizza. We have always cooked every pizza directly on the stone half way through and screened the second half.

We just have a procedure which seems to work well with us. Instead of trying to throw pizzas into both stones we use the first (top) stone and pizzas go directly on it and then second (bottom) stone all the pizzas go on one of the 3 jumbo screens. Yes we could make all pizzas on a screen and then take the screen off the final minute but doing that with the various sizes would be a lot of work. We do not use pans for our thin crust or double dough pizzas. They are rolled out with a sheeter and placed on a wooden peel with fine cornmeal and then placed directly on the stone. If we used pans for our thin crust pizzas we would have to change the procedure we use which people like.

I have never been able to make a pizza using the dough recipe I have on the deck oven we use that will cook perfectly directly on the stone. Most pizza places I have worked at always used thin pans with oil or spray or used screens right off the bat and then last minute of the pizza cooking pulling the screen/pan out and cooking directly on the stone.

We have tried lowering our temps but then we get to backed up on the pizza line and oven. We cook at 500-525. Maybe it’s ridiculous or crazy who know but the oven we have is old and it’s high maintenance. It seems with using the top oven and bottom ovens the way we do the pizzas cook really great and people seem to love them. We are always trying to get better and any advice is appreciated.