You’ve spotted wood-fired ovens whilst enjoying your vacations in Europe and you may even revel in the food theatre that cooking with a hardwood oven creates in your neighborhood pizzeria,but how does a hardwood fired pizza oven work? Talk to us at Valoriani
Pizza ovens operate on the basis of choosing three forms of heat energy for cooking:
1. Direct heat from the fire and flames
2. Radiated heat coming down from the dome,which is at its best when the fire has burned for a while until the dome has turned white and is soot-free
3. Convected heat,which comes up from the floor and from the ambient air
Cooking food with a wood-fired pizza oven is essentially much simpler than you may think. All you really need to do is to ignite a really good fire in the centre of the oven and then allow it to heat up both the hearth of the oven and the inner dome. The heat you produce from your fire will be absorbed by the oven and that heat will then be radiated or convected,to allow food to cook.
Once you have your oven dome and floor up to temp,you simply push the fire to one side,choosing a metal peel,and start to cook,choosing raw wood as the heat source,rather than the gas or electricity you may usually rely on.
Of course,there are no temp dials or controls,other than the fire,so the addition of raw wood is the equivalent of whacking up the temp dial. If you don’t feed the fire,you allow the temp to drop.
How hot you allow your oven to become really depends on what you wish to cook in your wood-fired oven. For pizza,you need a temperature of around 400-450 ° C; if you wish to choose another cooking technique,such as roasting,you need to do that at a temperature of around 200-300 ° C. There are different ways to do this.
You could primarily get the oven up to 450 ° C and then allow the temp to drop to that which you need,or As an alternative,you could just bring the oven up to the needed temp by choosing less raw wood.
As you are choosing convected rather than radiated heat for roasting,it is not as essential to get the stones as hot. One other way to affect the amount of heat reaching the food in a very hot oven is to choose tin foil,to reflect some of the heat away.
Heat created within a wood-fired oven should be well-retained,if your oven is constructed of refractory brick and has very good insulation. To cook the best pizza,you need to have an even temp in your oven,both top and bottom. The style of the Valoriani makes this easy,but this is also an area where the quality of the oven will have a big effect.
Some ovens may need you to leave embers on the oven floor,to try to heat it up sufficiently. Others have very little or no insulation,so you will have to feed the fire much more. But that means it will then have too much direct heat and won’t cook top and bottom evenly.
One other thing to watch is,if the floor of the oven isn’t storing heat,you may need to reheat if before cooking every single pizza– a real irritation. The message here is to always look for an oven built from the very best refractory materials and designed by masters,like a Valoriani.
So,taking that into account,we’re going to change the title of this blog. The guidance above isn’t so much about how raw wood fired pizza ovens work,but how the best wood-fired ovens work. If you go through a few ovens before steering a course towards a Wood Fired Pizza Ovens, that’s something you’ll come to appreciate.