You’ve made the plunge and joined the wood fired cooking family, congratulations! The excitement is real when getting ready to cook your very first meal, but hold your horses. Make sure you do it right the first time with this simple, but comprehensive guide.
Steps on Cooking in Your Wood Burning Oven
For your first time cooking and for future reminders make sure to follow the below 8 steps on how to use a wood fired pizza oven.
Disclaimer - This article is intended for those who have already cured their oven and are ready to begin cooking. Please make sure if this is your first time using your oven you also read the user manual for your specific oven. It’ll ensure you cure your oven appropriately to prepare it for a long cooking life.
Step One: Being Prepared
Make sure you have everything you need prior to starting up your new craft. You will need the following essentials:
A supply of wood: The most popular is hardwood.
Kindling: This can be paper, a twisted paper bag, shavings off the wood.
Different techniques can be used for starting a fire in your wood burning oven. The most important thing is to use the right kind of wood, kindling, and making sure there is enough space between the wood pieces to allow for proper airflow.
Technique #1 – Top-Down Method
Start with the bigger pieces of wood (around three to five inches in diameter). Place three of these on the floor of the oven, leaving some space between each of them.
Place another row of slightly smaller logs on top of these running in the opposite direction. They should be around 50% to 75% smaller than the first layer of logs.
Next, put the third row of wood on top of these, running in the same direction as the first row. These pieces should only be about one to two inches around.
On top of this, a pile of kindling can be placed. Leftover wood splits are commonly used for this.
Next, take some newspaper and twist it, so it looks like a piece of rope. You will want three or four pieces of this, and they should be placed in different sections of the kindling.
Technique #2- Box Style Method
For this method, begin by making a square from the wood logs in the center of the oven floor.
In the open space of the square, add some wood kindling.
Place another layer of wood on top consisting of two wood pieces running horizontally. Add in kindling to the open space.
Place a third layer of three pieces of wood running in the opposite direction.
Step Three: Igniting The Fire
Now you are ready to ignite the fire! You have the option to light the fire with a match, lighter or a blow-torch. If you are utilizing the box style method it is recommended to use a blow torch as it can be more difficult to light the wood kindling. Please note if you are using a blow torch that these must be handled carefully.
Step Four: Bringing The Fire Up To The Desired Temperature
You’ve created your first cooking fire, you go you! Now let's get that temperature right. What you cook will determine the temperature you want to cook your masterpiece at. While your oven heats up, keep the fire in the center of the oven. Use your infrared thermometer heat gun to check the floor of the oven next to (not into) the fire where you will be placing your food. For example, if you’re cooking pizza you’ll want the floor of the oven to be around700 to 750 degrees.
Step Five: Getting Ready To Cook
Once you’ve reached your desired temperature, use your ember mover or ember rake to move the fire to either side, or back of the oven. If you are cooking your pizza directly on the oven floor, you’ll want to ensure that the cooking space is as clean as possible. Grab your long handle stiff brush to push back the dust and embers from the fire. Next, you’ll want to wrap a damp cloth around the pizza peel and give the floor a quick wipe.
Step Six: Cooking In The Wood Fired Oven
You’re now ready to insert your food into the oven!
For pizza, grab your long handled pizza peel and place it directly on the floor of the oven about 6 inches from the fire. Pizza’s cook extraordinarily fast at this high temperature, so expect it to take approximately 90 seconds. Make sure you keep your eyes peeled on your pie as it quickly cooks to perfection. Halfway through cooking, rotate the pizza to ensure an even cook using a round peel or pizza turner.
For other dishes besides pizza, place your food closer to the fire for more heat and further away for less heat. Don’t forget to monitor the temperature while cooking with your infrared thermometer heat gun.
For more inspiration on cooking a variety of foods in your wood fired oven check out our recipe blog for the latest goodies from the Pro Pizza Oven Foodies!
Step Seven: Letting The Oven Cool Down
Once the food has been removed and the cooking is complete, the next step is to let the oven cool down. Wood Fired Ovens can vary on how long they take to cool down depending on the build of your oven and your intended purpose.
Pizza Oven Build
If you own a stainless steel oven, these cool down very quickly (an hour or less). Traditional brick ovens can take anywhere from a couple hours to as much as 10 hours to cool down prior to cleaning.
There are endless possibilities of cooking at lower temperatures in a wood fired oven - think of different types of breads, pastries, desserts, etc! If you plan to cook breakfast the next morning in your brick pizza oven, then you’ll want to close the door on the oven to keep it warm until the next morning.
However, if you’re completely finished cooking and do not intend to make breakfast in the oven the following morning, then you’ll want to keep the door on your oven open to cool it down as quickly as possible.
Step Eight: Cleaning The Wood Fired Oven
When sufficiently cooled, the ashes and soot should be removed. Use your pizza oven brush to sweep the floor clean, and place the remnants in a fireproof container as there may be smoldering ashes.
After all the ashes have been removed, the floor should be scrubbed with a stiff brush. If there are any stains on the oven floor, now is a good time to clean these. This can be done with a damp cloth. Or if they are stubborn, then a damp sponge that has been soaked in white vinegar and water.
You’re on your way to becoming a master wood fired oven chef! When you’ve created your next masterpiece, make sure to tag us on Facebook or Instagram @propizzaovens for a chance to be featured.
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