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How To Use A Wood Fired Pizza Oven

How To Use A Wood Fired Pizza Oven

Wood fired pizza ovens have become increasingly popular over the past decade. Many people love to grill and cook outdoors, and wood fired ovens offer one of the most fun and tastiest way to cook pizzas outdoors.

Other than pizza, you can also cook loaves of bread, flatbread, jacket potatoes, vegetables, and meat or fish in a wood fired oven.

Have you recently purchased a wood fired pizza oven and are looking for tips and best use practices?  Or maybe you are thinking about making a purchase and want to know how difficult they are to operate.

Either way, we have you covered!

How Does A Wood Fired Oven Work?

A wood fired oven is a simple cooking tool with a wood fire lit at the back, side, or center which heats up the inner dome or hearth area. Heat is conducted through convection, conduction, and radiation, but it’s mostly the first two.

Due to the shape of the oven and the materials used to make it, the heat is retained to create an even and optimum temperature throughout after the flame has been extinguished.

Pre-heating the oven means the surroundings can accumulate heat and give it back into the food you are cooking.

What Wood Should You Use?

Dried hardwoods are the most common types of wood used in a pizza oven as they are cleaner and last longer than softer woods.

The density of hardwoods means that the oven can reach higher temperatures needed for cooking certain types of food. Oak, maple, alder, beech, and hickory are fantastic hardwoods to use in your oven.

Oak is one of the most popular woods to use as it is safe and reliable. It also burns very hot compared to many other fuel sources.

The smoky flavors produced when burning oak is perfectly balanced and does not overpower your food. To add a slightly sweet flavor to your food, try adding a fruitwood such as apple or plum for extra depth.

When buying wood for your oven, make sure to responsibly source local wood rather than transporting it from other regions as this limits the spread of bugs and pests or the potential spread of disease between areas.

Lighting A Wood Fired Oven

Lighting A Wood Fired Oven

Lighting a wood fired oven does take some patience, so bear that in mind before you start. When loading your logs onto the fire, make sure they are dry and suitable for the oven itself.

Stay away from using chemical fuels as this may come into contact with your food and have a detrimental impact on your health.

  1. Open the doors and chimney (if applicable) to allow air to circulate
  2. Place some kindling or fire lighters in the center of the oven in a pyramid shape and set alight with a match or long gas lighter
  3. Once the kindling has caught fire, you can start to add a few logs to increase the fire size
  4. Wait patiently until the dome of the oven is black or has reached the optimum temperature which can be measured using a laser thermometer, let it reach up to 700℉ or more for cooking pizza.
  5. By this point the logs should begin to turn white, once you notice this you can close the smoke control vents to keep the heat in
  6. Use a long brush or hook tool to push the logs and embers to the size of the oven to make space for cooking. If there are embers still burning, leave the door or vent open a little while longer
  7. Place your food in and cook!

Overall, this process could take anywhere between 15 to 30 minutes depending on the size of your oven.

How To Tell When It’s Time To Start Cooking

Letting the oven reach the optimum temperature is essential when it comes to outdoor cooking. Every oven is slightly different thus the rate at which your oven will reach the optimum temperature to cook at won’t be the same as another.

As a result, there isn’t a perfect waiting time before you can pop your food in the oven.

If you have a laser thermometer that can detect the temperature of the oven floor, this is a handy tool to help you decide whether or not to start cooking.

Some wood fired ovens come with a pyrometer on the side of them which tells you the temperature of the air inside the baking chamber.

Another thing to look out for is the dark soot on the inside of the oven. When all this dark soot has burnt off it usually indicates that the ideal temperature has been reached and you can start to cook.

How To Cook With A Wood Fired Oven

Cooking with a wood fired oven is the easiest part of the process and is a great way to share food with friends and family.

As previously mentioned, there are many varieties of food that can be cooked in this type of oven but the main idea that springs to mind are delicious cheesy pizzas.

For the perfect wood fired pizza, remember that the cooking chamber needs to be around 750-800℉. If you find the temperature has dropped too much then add another log to the oven to bring the chamber back up again.

Use a metal peel or spade to move the logs and embers out of the way and place your pizza or other food product onto the oven floor, right next to the fire.

Whilst cooking make sure to rotate the pizza or food regularly for even cooking. No one wants a half-cooked pizza. When cooking pizza, always leave the oven door open.

How Long Does It Take To Cook A Pizza?

Properly heated ovens should take between 60-90 seconds to evenly cook a pizza. You can leave it in longer if the dough is particularly thick or you prefer your pizza to be quite crispy.

Here are some other cooking times that are handy to know with wood fired ovens:

  • Bread - between 25-30 minutes until the bread is golden brown on top
  • Vegetables - an average of 20-40 minutes, note that root vegetables take longer to cook
  • Fish - depending on the size of the fish and internal temperature of the oven, this could take anywhere from 10-40 minutes to roast the fish thoroughly
  • Steak - between 8-10 minutes without moving it, depending on how well-done you like your steak

Using The Residual Heat

In order to make the most out of your oven, try using the residual heat once you’re done cooking to heat up any desserts or other food products that are suitable for cooking in this type of oven.

A great example is cooking loaves of bread. If you know you’re going to be using the oven that day, pre-prepare some bread dough to make delicious fresh bread.

Final Thoughts

Using a wood fired oven to cook food is very simple to do, the hardest part is getting it going. Make sure you choose the appropriate wood to fuel your oven for the best results.

Remember that all makes and models are different so some tips may not apply to a particular oven.

We hope you found this article interesting and informative, helping you to better understand how to use a wood fired oven.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Control The Heat In A Wood Fired Oven?

To control the temperature of a wood fired oven, you can add more logs to the fire to create more heat. Opening the chimney damper also helps to regulate the temperature if the oven is too warm as some of the hot air is allowed to escape.

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