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.
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!