The appeal of a wood-fired oven is unmistakable. Its high baking temperatures, wood fuel, and fast baking times test the finesse of skilled chefs, and the gourmet pies produced are well worth the typically upscale prices. Plus, the substantial size and rustic brick or clay construction of a wood-fired oven adds to the customer experience and makes a not-so-subtle statement about the quality they can expect more so than other oven types.
However, for all of its benefits, a wood-fired oven is among the most selective when it comes to ideal pizza crust types. Simply put, not every crust works in a wood-fired oven — but those that do are deliciously enhanced by the deep, smoky taste and appealing visual characteristics.
Wood-fired ovens are exceptionally hot — usually operating between 600-800°F — translating to cook times under 5 minutes. The crust used must be responsive to high, dry heat and speedy cooking in order to deliver:
- Crust color that is light golden brown with intermittent deeper browning;
- Crust texture that is light, open-structured and among the crispest available, provided baking is done directly on the deck without a sheet or pan;
- Crusts that significantly bubble and blister for enhanced visual appeal.
Since crispness is the signature characteristic of a wood-fired crust, it’s important to note a couple of cautions so your pizzas don’t go awry:
- The very short baking time doesn’t allow for the top of the pizza to dry off, so using too many vegetable toppings could introduce a moisture challenge and soggy pizzas.
- If you’re thinking of using wood-fired crusts for a buffet or delivery/carryout, you’ll want to reconsider. While the crust will be consistently flavorful, it won’t hold its crispness for extended periods of time.
As for the best pizza dough or crust types for wood-fired ovens, there’s one basic rule: thin is in. A classic example is the crust preparation for a Neapolitan pie that, by strict definition, can be no more than 35 centimeters in diameter and no more than one-third of a centimeter thick at the center for super-thin and undeniably crisp results.
So, which pizza crust or dough products pair well with wood-fired ovens?
- Flatbread: This is an ideal choice for a wood-fired oven because the thin crust performs well with the hot temperatures. Few things beat flatbread in delivering a light, thin crust that’s artisan in appearance and a quality performer under a variety of toppings from traditional pie combos to exclusive epicurean adventures. Flatbread is less filling than other crust types, and is a go-to choice for health-conscious customers that want pizza without the guilt.
- Dough Balls:For wood-fired ovens, high heat dough balls are the perfect formulation for crusts that showcase gourmet offerings. The mainstay for managing prep time and crust production consistency, frozen pizza dough balls are versatile and customizable to optimize any oven type and nearly any application — appetizers, entrées and desserts.
A wood-fired oven is an asset you can leverage when you strategically partner with pizza ingredient suppliers like the crust experts at Alive & Kickin’ Pizza Crust. Learn more about getting the most from your pizza crusts and your oven by downloading How To Select The Right Oven For Your Pizza Operation. Click the button below to download your free copy.