How to use a wood fired pizza oven?

Using a wood-fired pizza oven is an art form that combines traditional cooking techniques with a touch of modern flair. Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to use a wood-fired pizza oven, compiled from various expert sources.

How to use a wood fired pizza oven?

1. Setting Up Your Wood-Fired Pizza Oven

  • Location and Safety: Ensure you have enough outdoor space, with at least 6 feet of clearance from buildings or flammable materials. Proper ventilation is critical, so avoid low overhangs or ceilings​​.
  • Essential Accessories: Consider a sturdy, heatproof pizza oven stand, an infrared thermometer for temperature checking, a metal pizza peel for handling pizzas, and fireproof mitts and gloves​​.

2. Preparing the Oven

  • Lighting the Fire: Start with small kindling and gradually add larger logs. Use fire starters placed under the kindling for an even heat distribution. Achieving the desired temperature (usually around 700°F) can take between 30 to 90 minutes​​.
  • Fire Control: Master airflow using oven vents to maintain a steady, medium-sized fire. This balance is key to maintaining the right temperature for cooking pizzas​​.

3. Dough and Toppings Preparation

  • Dough: Use a simple recipe with flour, water, salt, and yeast. Allow the dough to ferment slowly to develop flavor and texture. A slightly wetter dough often works well in wood-fired ovens​​.
  • Toppings: Prepare your toppings in advance. Some, like raw meats or certain vegetables, might need pre-cooking​​.

4. Baking the Pizza

  • Assembling the Pizza: Hand-stretch the dough to about 12 inches in diameter, avoiding a rolling pin to maintain the dough’s airiness. Apply a thin layer of sauce and add toppings sparingly to prevent sogginess​​.
  • Cooking: Place the pizza in the oven, not too close to the fire. Wood-fired ovens cook pizzas rapidly, typically in about 90 seconds. Rotate the pizza halfway through for even cooking​​​​.

5. After Cooking

  • Utilising Residual Heat: After baking pizzas, use the residual heat for cooking other dishes like garlic knots, crusty bread, or roasted vegetables​​.
  • Maintenance: Regularly clean the oven to remove ash and check for wear and tear. Replace floor tiles if needed​​.

6. Cooling Down

  • Let the oven cool down naturally after use. This time can vary depending on the oven model and how long it was used​​.

By following these steps and practicing regularly, you can master the art of wood-fired pizza cooking. The key is to maintain the right fire temperature, prepare the pizza dough and toppings properly, and monitor the cooking process closely. Happy cooking!