Wood Fired Pizza

Wood Fired Pizza

Pizza – a name that can make us all mouth-watering- is surely one of the most popular foods in the world. People keep devouring this delicacy all the time, no matter when or where. We become a big of the cheesy, saucy, pepperoni-covered pies, going along with beer or Coke, and quality time with great friend. According to “The 2019 Pizza Power Report.”, the worldwide pizza sales reached $144.68 billion in 2018. Despite the availability of frozen pizza, there has been a high demand for pizza made of fresh and healthy ingredients. People tend to crave a perfect dough, and artisan sauces which are popular among younger pizza eaters.

Although there is a variety choice for pizza products, a wood fired oven pizza is highly recommended for those who are fond of a perfect crust while highlighting the delightful flavors of fresh ingredients.

Wood Fired Pizza

Explanation Of Wood Fired Pizza

It can be called by another name which is “brick oven pizza”. Hence, no matter which name people call it, they are mentioning the same type of pie. As its name implies, the pizza is cooked in a brick oven, instead of electricity or gas. Brick ovens which employ burning wood to make the perfect pizza provide a higher temperature, allowing the pizza to cook differently than they would in a conventional oven.  It is well accepted that the most authentic pizza is created in a wood fired oven which is made with layers of insulation and materials that trap the heat inside. At first, it takes a while to heat up the oven, but once it is heated up, it can cook a pizza in a very short time and the interior surfaces is able to stay hot for days. To start cooking in the oven, you use wood to start the fire and after few hours, the heat gets going and heat the dome, tiles and floor. Then, you can push the wood aside or in the of the oven. After that, put a slice or entire round of dough in the front part of the oven. Remember to keep it away from the logs while the fire burning to keep the temperature high. Add more logs if necessary to feed the fire and increase the temperature.

There are three types of heat emitted from a wood fired oven, namely the heat of the fire, radiated heat, and the convection heat. In terms of the second type, once the dome of the oven gets white-hot after the oven is heated a while, the heat from the dome will radiate downward on your pie. Finally, the last type of heat is the convection heat from the ambient heat inside the oven and the tiles on the floor of the oven. This one is used to bake the dough.

How Is Wood Fired Different To Gas Or Electric?

One tangible advantage of wood fired oven is there is no worry about electricity or wires powering the device. A wood fired pizza oven is a great option for those who want to maintain a green lifestyle because it does not consume any electricity or gas source.

Moreover, in few specific ways, a wood fired oven differs dramatically from a gas or electric oven:

First, it makes the pizza more authentic: Dating back to the late 18th-century when a Neapolitan pizza was first introduced, people had it baked in a wood fired oven. Nowadays, when the True Neapolitan Pizza Association or Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana publishes official rules about authentic Neapolitan pizza criteria. Wood fired pizza ovens are a requirement which is listed in the regulation.

Second, the pizza flavor bears a little resemblance when it comes to baking in the wood fired oven and gas/electric oven. Gas and electric ovens cook with direct heat while a wood fired oven uses the radiant and convection heat to cook pizzas. As a result, an indirect heat from wood fired ovens creates crust and a rustic, smoky flavor which simply cannot be achieved by any other ways.

Third, it improves the flexibility of flavor as well. The fact that a pizza oven works with different kinds of wood helps you to introduce new unique flavors only by changing the type of logs used. For example, apple wood offers different flavors from mango wood or other varieties.

The next benefit of wood fired ovens is to help food retain nutrients. Many health-conscious individuals pay much attention to the cooking time because the longer the time is, the fewer nutrients the food maintain. Since the wood fired oven cooks fruits and vegetables very quickly, it helps them keep specific nutrients and antioxidants.

Last but not least, at the higher temperature, it results in a faster cooking time. It only takes minutes for a pizza to be cooked with perfect texture. Especially, the dough which is baked by the convection heat becomes crunchy on the outside, and soft on the inside. A wood fired pizza oven attains high temperatures—approximately 500 to 700 degrees, which sharply cuts the cooking time.

How Is Brick Oven Pizza Prepared And Cooked?

The first notice in the preparation between wood fired pizza and other kinds of pies is the use of olive oil. Due to the high temperatures in wood –fired oven, a high-quality olive oil will be drizzled on top of a wood fired pizza after baking. Unlike other types of pizza, olive oil can be used only as an ingredient in their dough. In addition, fresh, healthy ingredients are prioritized in the brick oven pizza. In view of the fast time cooking, all the moisture is kept to prevent the crust from becoming soggy. As a result, the sauce, cheese and topping have remarkable flavors. Moreover, the extreme temperatures create eye-catching black marks on the crust, which eventually becomes an icon of wood fired pizzas, distinguishing them from other types of pizza.

Benefits Of Choosing Wood Fired Pizza

There are some highlighted features that a wood fired pizza would offer: The perfect crust is the first feature. Since the moisture from toppings and cheese cooks off quickly in a brick oven, the crust does not get soggy. The moisture is sealed in the dough, which also prevents the underlying crust from becoming mushy. In addition, pizza made in wood fired oven comes with a smoky flavor thanks to the heat generated by burning wood. Not only the flavor but also the toppings are excellent. The extreme heat in a brick oven helps to cook toppings evenly and quickly, making them crispier than they would in a different kind of oven. Moreover, with the fast time cooking, the vegetables have more of their vitamins, antioxidants and nutrients, compared to other types of pizza.

How Is An Italian Style Pizza Prepared And Cooked In Wood Fired Oven?

This guide is made to help you bake an Italian style thin, crispy base pizza with the help of a wood fired oven.

What you will need

Small sticks of hardwood kindling to build the wood fired oven

Some eco fire starters along with matches or lighter

A fire poke

Fire resistant brush

Ingredients to make your pizza base including flour, salt, sugar, olive oil, and dry active yeast

Toppings of your favorite

A pizza paddle

Heat resistant gloves

The detailed process

The first step is making the pizza base. It is essential that you can choose the right flour which is suitable. We highly recommend the type ’00’ flour, which is available in most supermarkets or groceries. So what is ’00’ flour? The ’00’ means the texture of the flour. In Italy, flours are classified by numbers, ranging from the finest ’00’ to the coarsest ground ‘tipo’ 2 according to how finely they are ground. The type ’00’ flour is the best for your dough because it has low protein, low starch, and low gluten, which makes the base soft and stretchy without springing back. As a result, when you form the pizza base, it prevents the base from tearing. Additionally, it helps the base get crispy and have a little bit of chewiness without feeling like rubber. When you cook it in the wood fired oven, you will have an incredibly perfect crust with its puffy little bubbles commonly associated with Italian wood fired pizza.

The next step is making the dough. To make a medium size pizza, you need 4 cups of the ‘00’ flour, salt, sugar, olive oil along with dry active yeast. First, the flour and salt should be mixed in a large bowl. While mixing, make a well in the center. In a separate container, 1/2 cups of lukewarm water is mixed with 1 tbsp caster sugar, 4 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil and 1/2 tsp dry active yeast. Wait about 5 minutes until the mixture bubbles or foams.  At this time, you can pour the water into the flour, and knead for at least 7 minutes, using a bread maker if you like. Stop when you have a smooth, silky, and elastic dough. After that, cover a large bowl with a clean cloth before placing the dough inside. Then, remember to leave the dough somewhere that is warm for about an hour.

Once the dough is roughly doubled in size, take it onto a floured work surface and knead again for a couple of minutes. Split it into 8 equal balls for the bases and leave them again for a further hour. They have to be cooked right after or frozen in the fridge if you will not be cooking for a while. Remember to cover or wrap in cling wrap, take them out 30 minutes before cooking.

A proper traditional pizza must be stretched by hand. Slowly push the pizza outwards, using the ‘00’ flour to ensure that while stretching the base, it is nice and thin but not being ripped. Remember to leave the edges slightly higher than the center. If necessary, use a rolling pin or wine bottle to help. There is no worry if your base is not completely perfect. Later, transfer your base into the pizza paddle which should be covered with some semolina flour in advance. This semolina flour will allow you to transfer your pizza easily to the pizza oven, without being sticky. Once the base on your paddle, add the favorite toppings such as chicken or bacon which are pre-cooked as the pizza will be cooked in minutes, which is not long enough to ensure they are cooked through. Limit your toppings at four if you do not want to pile on heaps of toppings as the base may go soggy. When it comes to cheese, the traditional buffalo mozzarella is preferable. Alternatively, cherry bocconcini is highly recommended.

Subsequently, you have to build the wood fired oven in your own style. Remember to prepare some hardwood kindling that is about 1″ thick and set up a base layer through putting 3-4 sticks parallel to each other. Make sure that you let them space a couple of inches apart in the middle. You should use eco-friendly firelighters instead of liquid fire starter or the white plastic looking fire starters. Since these fire starters come with unpleasant chemical smell, which directly effects on the pizza taste, place another layer of kindling perpendicular on the top of your base layer. Build a 3-4 “storey” structure out of hardwood kindling in the middle of a pizza oven, which ensures sufficient airflow to your fire as well as ensure the clean, quick combustion. Finally, use a long match to light your firelighters. To have a sizable coal base in the center of your pizza oven, you can start by some smaller splits of hardwood firewood and gradually increase the size until ¼ is split. Keep maintaining the fire in the medium-sized chunks of firewood. The whole process takes hours but it is very efficient. The high heat enables your pizza base to cook and crisp up nicely, melting the cheese quickly. Via the wood fired oven, your base never gets burn while your cheese not melted. One problem that must be notice is the vents on your chimneystack must be fully open to maximize airflow and the fire is not blocked.

Finally, when your oven is approaching the temperature of the surface of the sun, it is time to cook your pizza. Transfer your pizza into the oven and watch it thoroughly. Due to the one-side heat, half of your pizza will be colored and cooked first, so make sure to turn your pizza around while in the oven for an even cook. The whole cooking process takes about two minutes only to reach your desired color and crispiness. After that, use your pizza peel to place it on a chopping board and add some basil and drizzle with garlic or chili oil. In fact, you can choose any kind of oil depending on your preference. Slice it into the desired slices and enjoy!

 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I build the pizza oven on a deck?

Yes, absolutely. The desk is one of places that you can build a pizza oven because most deck has a roof covering. It is more perfect if it is on your backyard. However, you have to remember one principal which is to have an outdoor pizza oven near the outdoor relaxing area. In addition, the wood fired oven must be shielded from direct rain and sun.

2. Will the oven be fine in the rain?

It completely depends on the place you put it. Is it outside? Can it get wet? If yes, it may be a problem, even if it is made of clay or brick. In the long period, it may begin to break or loosen its structural strength. Some parts of it may fall away and collapse eventually. Additionally, the wall of the oven seep the water overtime. If it does not dry totally and moisture maintains inside, when alight the oven, heat will turn into steam, causing the wall to crack due to the pressure of the steam. The best solution is to use the rain cover, which is made of waterproof materials.

3. Which kind of wood pizza oven should I buy?

If you are an outdoor enthusiast and wish to cook outside, we have some recommendations for your notice. Generally, there are two main kinds of Wood pizza ovens that you can consider. One type is brick oven and the other is fast heating stainless steel. Some top brands can be named such as Alfa Ovens, Belforno ,Chicago Brick Ovens or Tucan Chef. To make a wise choice, there are some factors you should take into consideration.

The first factor is the space available at home. Make sure that you have measured the space for your oven installation so that the oven will fit comfortably as well as give you enough space to move around for cooking and socializing. Moreover, wood fired oven usually put off smoke. Hence, consider a long chimney to direct the smoke out of the chef’s way. If you do not plan to move anywhere in the long term, a heavier oven or building an oven into the existing structure in your home is possible. If you have a limited space, you might want to consider a portable oven like the Maximus from Authentic Pizza Ovens.

Second, think about the amount of food that you are going to cook. Since different homes come with different food demands and quantities, your needs can play the key role in your purchasing decision. Some wood fired ovens offer 1 or 2 pizzas each time such as Alfa Ciao, while some bigger ones are capable of 5 pizzas like the Italian-designed 4 Pizza in order to accommodate more food for a bigger family or parties. In addition, a good oven can last a lifetime, so you should consider your demands in the long run.

One factor which can be noticed is the fuel options. It means the kind of fuel you use will directly impact the taste of your food. For instance, if you are a big fan of wood fired pizza, consider some kinds of wood-burning pizza ovens. Other fuel types include gas, electric or charcoal.

Last but not least, the design and materials are contributing factors. Some customers express their regrets because of choosing the inexpensive oven but not efficient ones. The types of different materials are the key to the pizza flavors and taste. The materials such as brick, stone or steel will have an effect on the efficiency and price of an oven. For example, the Authentic Pizza Ovens which combines 100% clay and refractory cement can hold the heat up to 3 hours.

To sum up, when it comes to buying a pizza oven, you have to spend considerable time searching and considering those factors we have mentioned thoroughly.

4. Why is my pizza not cooking uniformly?

If you fail to make a pizza, this can stem from plenty of reasons.

First, check your oven to see if it has a problem. Make sure that you have set it at the right temperature, depending on the dough you cook. It is generally believed that 600-650 degrees is perfect for most dough. For frozen one, you can set at 450 degrees, or in some situations, it can also be 550 degrees. The oven should provide significant and sudden heat for your dough to cook.

Second, when it comes to your dough, be very careful in measuring and adding your ingredients. You can use some recipes on the Internet for further help. Remember to use an exact amount of every ingredient that you are using.

5. What should I do when my pizza crust is not crispy?

There are some reminders in cooking your pizza dough:

Pre-bake the crust before you put any toppings on it.

Place your pizza dough in the lower to middle portion of the oven so the bottom crust can get crispy.

Finally, make sure that your oven is hot enough to get a crispy crust. The suggested temperature in a wood fired oven is 370°C when cooking a dough. Install a temperature monitor if necessary, especially for those who do not know what temperature your oven has already achieved.

The final product should have an evenly browned crust and a melted cheese and toppings, along with the crispy bottom.

6. How long do I cook a pizza in a pizza oven?

The question completely depends on several factors including the size of the pizza, the crust’s thickness, and the weight of its toppings, not to mention the fact that whether the pizza is frozen or your own one. Usually, it takes about 8 minutes for a regular pizza to be baked. However, in a wood fired oven, the time is lower, one to two minutes only. Since the wood fired pizza oven can reach up to 370°C and have the pizza baked evenly, the cooking time is saved. Due to the extreme heat, one side of the pizza can be burnt before the others are done if the oven temperature is not uniform. Therefore, remember to check the pizza and either rotate or move the pizza away to ensure that it is baked evenly.

7. Can I bake cookies in a pizza oven?

No, definitely not. The fact that the temperature in the wood fired oven cannot be controlled once the fire has been lit makes it impossible to bake cookies. If you insist on using the wood fired oven, cookies will be melt away due to the high temperature. However, you can try cooking delicious bread, thick steaks or even vegetables in the wood fired oven. Surely, you will be amazed.

In fact, different types of pizza ovens come with varied benefits. You can bake cookies in an electric pizza oven because its temperature can be controlled. While baking cookies, make sure that the heat at the top and bottom will be decreased, compared to cooking pizza. In short, as long as your oven’s temperature can be regulated, it is fine to bake cookies.

8. How do I clean a pizza oven?

Since there are several kinds of oven, each type requires a different way to be cleaned. Some kinds of wood fired ovens are mostly self-cleaning. Owing to the high heat, there is almost no trace of grease or fallen food while cooking, which makes you concerned. In fact, you only need to make regular cleaning by using a rake to sweep the ash gathered to the center or to the sides and carefully sweep it out of the oven. Make sure to store the oven properly unless you want to clean it more often. In addition, the chimney of the oven also needs cleaning regularly as well. For a full working efficiency, check the nests or other items stuck in the chimney to ensure that it is clean and clear.

 

Conclusion

Although cooking pizza over a wood-burning oven may sound complicated, it is pretty simple. Indeed, you just need to follow some above basis steps to make a pizza from scratch in your own conditions.

Wood fired pizza is a true culinary delight that provides eaters with numerous nutritional benefits. It has set our standards for pizza to a new level of flavors and taste.

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