Having the best experiences using a wood fire oven means learning how to use it properly. Several steps need to be followed to achieve this. It begins with choosing the best wood fired oven that is suitable for you. To do this, you want to know the basics of what to look for if you are not familiar with home pizza ovens.
There are several things that you are going to discover when you go to buy your wood fired oven, such as:
- The Different Types
- When it comes to choices in types, these are going to include:
- Built in wood fire pizza style ovens
- Countertop wood fire pizza style ovens
- Mobile wood fire pizza style ovens
- Portable wood fire pizza style ovens
- DIY wood fire pizza ovens.
The Different Brands
There are many different brands to choose from when it comes to this type of oven. When selecting a reputable brand, you can count on their products being quality made. Where a wood fired oven may differ is in the types of materials used and the design as well as the features. Here are some examples:
This manufacturer offers a full selection of different models. They are recognized for creating ovens that allow for quick heating times. For their wood burning models, either wood or lump charcoal can be used.
Ooni produces some excellent portable wood fire ovens that use pellets as their heat source. This type of oven is perfect for those who want to do some authentic wood burning cooking when they are on the go.
Authentic Pizza Ovens
This manufacturer's hand makes their ovens, and they are constructed as one piece. They offer a variety of models and are made of the very best quality.
Chicago Brick Ovens
This provider of wood fired pizza ovens has some really neat styles to choose from, including the DIY kit and countertop models.
As a manufacturer of quality wood burning pizza ovens, they have made sure that they have left plenty of room for customization.
Options and Features
When it comes to options and features, each of the well-known Brands will have its own offerings. Some of the features that may be available are:
Being able to have it reach temperature in 5 minutes
- The ability to cook two pizzas in 90 seconds
- An option to be able to cook bread at the same time as cooking the pizza
- Being able to control and adjust temperature simply by opening and closing the door
- A convenient ledge for holding the cookware
- The option to be able to decorate the wood burning pizza oven to fit in with your decor
The Price Range
For those who want a wood burning pizza oven, almost everyone will find something to fit in with their budget. They can choose from the very elaborate built in styles to the lower-priced mobile versions.
Cooking With An Outdoor Wood Fired Oven
If you have chosen to go with the outdoor wood fired oven, you will want to follow these steps to get the most out of what this type of cooking has to offer. If this is the first time you will be using it, you will want to read the instruction book that should have come with it.
You want to make sure that you have everything you will need for this cooking experience on hand. You are going to need:
- A supply of wood: The most popular is hardwood.
- Kindling: This can be paper, a paper bag twisted, shavings off the wood.
- Tools & Accessories: There are several tools that you are going to want to have on hand.
- The food that you are going to cook
Building The Fire
Different techniques can be used for starting a fire in these types of ovens. 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. Some manufacturers will provide suggestions on how to start the fire.
Technique #1 – Top-Down Method
- You can 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. A lot of people like to use the leftover wood splits 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, you begin by making a square from the wood logs in the center of the oven floor.
- In the open space of the square, put some wood kindling.
- Put another layer of wood on top consisting of two wood pieces running horizontally. More kindles can now be added in the open space.
- Put a third layer of three pieces of wood running in the opposite direction.
Igniting The Fire
Now you are ready to ignite the fire. If you are using the first technique, you will light the paper using a match or lighter. However, with method two, it is more difficult to light the wood kindling. For this, you may need to use a commercial fire starter that is appropriate for the wood fired oven. Several different types of these are chemical-free. Another option is to use a portable blow torch, but these must be used carefully.
Bringing The Fire Up To The Desired Temperature
What you are cooking is going to determine what temperature you want the oven to be at. Until the oven is up to the temperature, you want to keep the fire in the center of the oven. Then once it has reached the desired temperature, you can push the fire to the back of the oven. For example, if you are cooking pizza, you will want the oven's deck to be around 800 to 900 degrees.
Depending on which oven model you have chosen, it should have a built-in thermometer that is convenient. If it doesn't, then you will have to rely on a laser thermometer, so you don't have to get too close to the fire itself. That is one of the great advantages of having a brick oven with a built-in thermometer. However, you may still want to have a digital thermometer to give you an accurate reading of different sections of your oven.
Getting Ready To Cook
Some like to spread the fire around the deck a bit to keep the temperature even. Once you are ready to start cooking, you want to push the fire to the back of the oven. This is where your tools are going to come in handy. For this, you can use the pizza peel tool.
Some like to cook their pizza in a pan. Others like to cook it directly on the oven floor. For this method, you will want to be sure that the cooking area is as clean as possible. This is where you can use a long handle stiff brush to push back the dust and embers present from the fire.
Next, wrap a damp cloth around the pizza peel and give the floor a quick wipe.
Now you can check the temperature of the oven floor using a digital thermometer. Some cooks like the temperature to be around 750 degrees F.
The oven may get too hot for some dishes, which raises the question, how do you cool down a brick oven? It is going to depend on which method you are using for cooking. If you are cooking dishes that need high heat, like pizza, you will probably be cooking with the door closed. On the other hand, if you are cooking lower temp. foods, then you may be cooking with the door closed. To bring the temperature down to cool off the oven, you can open the door slightly for a small cooling down. Or, if necessary, open it all the way until it reaches the desired temperature. For the open door method, to allow it to cool down, you can push the fire back further from the eating surface and don't add any more wood until the temperature drops below what you want.
With every pizza recipe being different and the ovens themselves, the pizza will have to be overseen so it can be removed when done.
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.
Removing The Ashes
When sufficiently cooled, the ashes should be removed. They should be placed in a fireproof container as they may still be smoldering ashes.
Cleaning The Wood Fired Oven
After all the ashes have been removed, the floor should be cleaned 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.
Cooking With An Indoor Wood Fired Oven
The good news is if you want to have an indoor wood fire oven, you have that option. The priority here is proper ventilation. You need to be sure that the model you are choosing can also be used indoors as it has ventilating capabilities.
When it comes to cooking, you can follow the same steps as you would for outdoor wood fire cooking.
Cooking With A Portable Wood Burning Pizza Oven
Not everyone has the room for a countertop or built in brick oven. For these individuals, there are some great choices when it comes to portable models. Some of which use pellets as their heat source. This means the steps used for cooking with the built in or portable models will differ. Here is an example when using the Ooni 3.
- Once you have followed the proper setup instructions, you will be ready to fire up the oven.
- With this model, you will be using pellets instead of large pieces of wood as with some of the other models.
- The pellets are placed inside the pellet slide, which is inside the hopper. It only requires a few scoops of pellets. This allows the pellets to flow into the crate, so there is a consistent burn.
Be sure to use 100% hardwood pellets.
To Light The Oven
You will need to remove the chimney cap and check to make sure the door is on.
For a quick light, you can use a natural fire starter. With this method, you will light the fire starter then place it in the tray with the pellets. If you look through the hole in the side, you will see the flames. This will move forward as it gets drawn towards the chimney.
You Can also use a small handheld blow torch. When using this method, you will want to point the flame to the hole in the burner's side for about thirty to sixty seconds.
You will need to top up with the pellets as they continue to burn. These are added through the hopper. Only a little at a time should be added when topping up. If too many are added at one time, it can affect airflow.
Once your oven has reached the maximum temperature, you will see a nice clean burn.
A digital thermometer can be used to determine the temperature.
Once your oven has reached 350C, you are ready to start cooking your pizza.
If you put a little flour on your pizza peel, it will slide off easily onto the oven floor.
Remember that every model and make of these pizza ovens will be slightly different when it comes to how long they will take to reach a specific temperature. Also, the methods you use to move the fire around will differ according to what you are cooking. Once you become familiar with this type of cooking, you will develop your own techniques for starting the fire, maintaining the temperature, and the best ways to cook the different dishes you want to experience.