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Pizza ovens aren’t just for the professionals anymore, as in recent years the popularity of the residential pizza oven has skyrocketed and become a much more viable option.
Whether it's a small, portable oven or a permanently built-in outdoor pizza oven, the options are endless for making artisan style pizza at home.
Regardless of the make or model of the pizza oven you own, or if you’re thinking about getting one then you might need to know how they work first.
In this article, we explain all you need to know about wood fired pizza ovens and how they work.
Typically, outdoor pizza ovens are large built-in domes made from bricks and cement. This is the kind of oven you think of when you imagine a rustic Italian pizzeria.
The floor of a pizza oven can be made from various types of stone material, which is designed to crisp up the crust of your pies.
Layers of insulation wrap around the dome of the oven to help trap the heat further.
A portable pizza oven might be made of similar materials - but it can vary depending on make and model.
A wood fire is ignited in the center of the pizza oven which heats up the inner dome and hearth.
The shape of the dome is designed this way to create the optimum cooking temperature long after the flames of the fire have gone out.
This occurs as a small pocket of hot air generated from the fire circulates around the dome.
The fire is pushed to the side or back of the oven once established which leaves the floor of the oven extremely hot, making it a great surface to cook pizzas on.
This is why it’s important to burn the proper fuel sources to get the oven to an initial high temperature before cooking.
This is a general guide on how to light a pizza oven, every make and model may follow a slightly different process depending on the wood used, the size, and what the oven is made from.
It's worth noting that wood ovens should be lit earlier than needed.
To light your pizza oven, you’ll need a good source of firewood to fuel the fire and give your food a delicious smoky flavor.
Hardwoods are the best option to use with outdoor pizza ovens as they burn longer than softwoods with cleaner smoke. The denser and heavier your fuel source, the higher temperature your oven will reach.
For best results use kiln-dried hardwoods such as oak, hickory, maple, or fruit woods for some added flavor.
Combinations of these woods are also a great idea as they can complement each other and bring some sweetness to your pizzas whilst maintaining a high temperature in the oven.
If you’ve ever used an indoor fireplace, you may find this super easy. Firstly, build a tower of kindling in the center of your own and use a natural firelighter to get the fire going.
Strike a match and light the firelighter, leaving the door to the oven and the chimney damper open if there is one. This will help the fire to get sufficient oxygen.
Once the fire starts to build, keep adding pieces of kindling every few minutes until you see a healthy red glow in the fire.
When the internal temperature of the dome has reached between 752-842℉ you can start to move the fire to the back or side of the oven with a rake or brush.
Finally, start to add some logs to the fire and continue to do so when more is needed with the necessary tools.
Portable pizza ovens are the ones that have risen in popularity as they are light, easy to transport and still produce delicious pizza.
They are also incredibly cost-effective compared to a traditional oven. These ovens use wood pellets in a similar way to a normal pizza oven to achieve the sought-after wood fired flavors.
Most portable pizza ovens come with thick baking stones to replicate a hot tiled floor and absorb enough keep to properly cook a pizza.
When pizza ovens are properly heated, they should take no longer than 90 seconds to cook.
Place the pizza inside the dome with the appropriate tools and rotate every few seconds on the same spot to get a nice even cook and to avoid the pizza from burning.
If you’re adding logs between cooking different pizzas, let it sit elsewhere in the oven before adding it to the flame in order for it to dry out.
Be sure to place logs in the correct position rather than throwing them in to avoid burnt wood becoming a part of your dinner. Yuck.
Using a wood fired pizza oven is fairly simple to do but can require a lot of patience. Once you’ve tasted your first incredible homemade pizza, none of that will matter though.
Watching a few videos online can help you to get a better understanding of what you need to do and more importantly, get your stomach rumbling.
We hope you found this article interesting and informative, helping you to get to grips with the basics of how a wood fired pizza oven works!
To control the temperature in the pizza oven you use the chimney damper to regulate this.
An open damper will make the interior temperature drop whereas a mostly closed damper will help the chamber maintain a consistent temperature.
Generally speaking, wood fired pizza ovens provide more flavorful pizzas while gas pizza ovens are more convenient and easier to operate.
With a gas oven, you can start your preheating process with the turn of a knob, vs. a wood fired oven - where you have to build and manage a fire.