Getting a new pizza oven can be extremely exciting and you will likely want to get started on enjoying your wood oven as soon as possible. But it is important to take a few moment to learn the best way to use one of these wood-fired pizza ovens to make sure that you get the most out of your new equipment.
In this article, we are going to be giving you all of the information you will need to use your wood-fired pizza oven for the first time.
How Long Does It Take To Heat Up A Pizza Oven?
Before you can even think about cooking your favorite kinds of pizza in your new wood-fired pizza oven, you will need to get the oven temperature right for cooking. One of the ways in which a wood-fired oven differs from a gas oven is that the temperature is far higher. Experts recommend that you should have the temperature at around 500ºc for cooking pizza. If you are going to making other kinds of food then the temperature will be different.
According to the Pizza Oven Shop, once you have got used to the technique for lighting you wood-fired pizza oven, it will only take around 10-20 minutes to get the oven up to the right temperature. That being said, if you want to make sure that the temperature is at its best, you might leave the wood-fired pizza oven for up to one hour before cooking any food in it.
Furthermore, the time that it takes to get the cooking temperature right will largely depend on the size of the oven. Wood-fired pizza ovens that are smaller in size might only take around forty minutes to be ready.
Do I Need A Door On My Pizza Oven?
One of the main questions that owners of a new wood-fired oven ask is whether they need to have a door on their wood oven. In short, the answer is yes, as this will keep the steam and heat inside, but you might not always need to use it. One of the best tips is to think about the type of food that you are cooking.
For pizza, it is vital that the heat is allowed to escape through the wood oven chimney as well as through the oven door. This is the best way to get a crispt pizza crust and prevent the pizza from having too high a moisture content.
However, when you are cooking other food like bread, gourmet food and slow roasting joints, you will need to keep the door closed. This allows the temperatures to be maintained more effectively rather than heat escaping through the door. The heat should be lower in these cases and the chimney drawing action will provide enough airflow for this without having to keep the door open.
When you first start the fire, this will require more airflow and the best method to do this is to keep it open open. But if you want the heat to rise quicker, then you can angle it so that the air can enter into the oven dome more quickly, thus boosting the fire. It is important to remember to only use this method to heat the fire up. Once the fire is at the correct heat, you will want to get a more general airflow again otherwise you will find that you lose a lot of heat through the chimney of the wood-fired oven.
How Do You Use A Pizza Oven For The First Time?
Before you can light a fire for cooking pizzas and other types of delicious foods in your wood-fired pizza oven, you must ensure that you perform a curing process. When you cure this type of oven, you are taking out a lot of the moisture that is present in the materials that have been used to make the oven.
If you omit to follow this process then there is a very real risk that your oven could become damaged or crack. This is because when you start the fire on the oven floor, the heat will increase very quickly and can cause a kind of thermal shock causing the oven to crack. It is important to cure your wood-fired pizza oven using a low heat before you use it for the first time.
Although you might be eager to start making pizzas, there is a bit of bad news. After you have built or installed your pizza oven, you will need to leave it alone for at least one week; sounds crazy, right? But this is an important part of the process. The only time that this rule does not apply is if you have purchased a fully assembled pizza oven such as the ones you can buy from Forno Bravo. In all other cases, you will need to cure it before using it for the first time.
The following is a guide on how to cure your news pizza oven making it ready for use.
- On the first day, you will need to start a fire in the center of the oven floor. Fires that are at the edges of the oven may have swirling flames that touch the dome and this can cause the heat to rise too quickly.
- The temperature should be around 300ºf or 149ºc and the fire should keep going for six hours or more if possible.
- On the second day, you will need to repeat this process but this time at 350ºf.
- You will continue to follow this process for the next three days, boosting the heat by fifty degrees each day.
- One of the best tips for checking how hot the fire is is to take the temperature at the dome of the oven as this will give you a more accurate reading.
- Other tips include the best method for lighting the fire. You can use foodgrade fire starters or heat beads for this but you should never use a liquid fuel product. Furthermore, you should never use water to attempt to cool your pizza oven down. Playing with the air flow is the best option to do this.
Once you have followed all of these steps, you are now ready to start making tasty pizzas in your pizza oven.
Cooking In The Pizza Oven
Now that everything is prepared, you are ready to start making meals in your oven. These ovens do take some getting used to but once you have established the best ways to start a fire, you won’t have any problems.
Here are our top tips for lighting a fire in pizza ovens.
- In the center of the oven floor, you should build a tower or pile using kindling wood. Light the fire using a natural firefighter and keep the doorway and chimney dampner open.
- Every couple of minutes, you will need to add a few extra pieces of kindling wood. The kindling size needs to be around 30-45cm.
- As the fire becomes more established, and this usually takes around ten minutes, you will notice that the base of the fire, the wood, has a healthy glow and there should be a nice yellow flame.
- Once you have heated the fire to the correct temperature, you will now need to move it to one side or to the back. This can be done by using an oven rake.
- In order to know the the oven has reached optimum temperatures, there are several methods you can use. Of course, you can use a good old fashioned thermometer or you could try something a little unique. There is the hand method, where you place your hand inside the oven and count how long it takes before you need to remove it. If this is a little on the edgy side, you can use the flour method. The flour method simply requires you to throw a small handful of flour into the oven and see how long it takes to burn – if it is seconds, it is is ready.
- Next, you will need to add bigger pieces of wood. There are several different sorts of wood that you can use but in the main wood such as birch wood, maple, oak or ash are preferable. This is because hard wood lasts longer than soft wood and gives a cleaner burn.
- You will add a series of pieces of wood for as long as you want the fire to burn. In most cases, this will be around every 25 to 30 minutes.
Now it is time to get cooking. The thing that you will need to do before everything else is to make your pizza dough. Many people will do this well before lighting the fire because the dough will usually need to proof.
Once the dough is ready, you are ready to light the fire and cook your pizzas. Now you can use a pizza stone if you prefer, but it is perfectly acceptable to use the floor as a cooking base.
You can add the toppings to your pizza dough and slide it onto the cooking base with a pizza paddle, sometimes called a pizza peel. You will need to use this again to take the pizza out after it has cooked for around two minutes. It is important to check your pizza to make sure that it does not burn.
A big problem with a pizza peel is that you may find that the uncooked dough will stick to its surface before you have had chance to transfer it into the dome. This problem can be resolved by adding a dusting of flour to the paddle before you put the pizza onto it.
Keeping It Clean
Once you have finished your meal, you will need to ensure that you clean your pizza oven. This must be done once the inside has cooled down and you may need several tools depending on how dirty it is.
In the main, you will need old rags and cloths, a wire brush and a shovel. The shovel will be used to remove any ash before you clean the oven’s floor.
You must also ensure that you regularly clean the flue as if debris and dirt are allowed to accumulate inside this could end up making your pizza taste odd. Even worse it can serve as a fire hazard.
When buying wood fired ovens, it is vital that you are aware of how to properly operate them. There are plenty of web pages giving you this information but our guide on using brick ovens gives you everything you need to know to get started.
So, what are you waiting for? Go enjoy that delicious pizza!