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How Ovens Impact Pizza Performance and Characteristics — Part 3

March 23 2016 by Luke Siedow

How-Ovens-Impact-Pizza-Performance-And-Characteristics.jpgHow does the type of oven you use impact the flavor, texture and performance of the pies you present to your patrons?

In Parts 1 and 2 of our Ovens blog series, we explored how your pizzeria concept drives oven selection and how physical space may limit or expand your oven possibilities. Now, let’s talk pizza! 

Deck Ovens

The “Old World” care it takes to tend pies baking on stone shelves over radiant heat instead of forced air makes deck ovens the top choice for providing a time-honored pizza experience.

Using dough balls really brings out the best in a deck oven and the New York-style or hand-tossed pies you create:

  • Crust color combines a rich, brown underside with a lighter edge
  • Crust texture combines a crispy bottom with a satisfying, chewy pull
  • Crusts blister without burning and do not affect the cheese’s lightly baked color

Deck ovens are a great way to go if your pizzeria concept is fashioned around authentic pies! 

Brick or Wood-Fired Ovens

Popular in upscale restaurants and with skilled chefs because of high temperatures and fast baking speed without introducing forced air, brick or wood-fired ovens are perfect for “gourmet” pies.

The preferred fuel — wood or coal — dictates the flavor of the pizza. Wood provides a deep, smoky taste and coal a more neutral taste, similar to that of a barbecue grill. Choosing a specific wood, like mesquite, or using compressed bricks also impacts flavor.

What differs little between brick or wood-fired ovens, though, is how the pies perform — particularly when dough balls are used. The high, dry heat may char the dough, making classic Neapolitan or New York-style pies perfect for:

  • Crust color that is light golden brown with intermittent deeper browning
  • Crust texture that is among the crispiest available, provided baking is done directly on the deck without a sheet or pan
  • Crusts that significantly bubble and blister for enhanced visual appeal

Double-Door Convection Ovens

Easy to operate, double-door convection ovens use forced air with no direct bottom heat to offer consistency and a low burn risk that, when paired with par-baked crusts, make for fairly foolproof pies:

  • Crust color is evenly browned, as is the cheese
  • Crust texture tends to be very soft and bready because of a lack of bottom heat; as a result, thicker crusts often perform better than thin options
  • Crusts are uniform in appearance, with no substantial bubbling or blistering 

Conveyor Ovens

Conveyor ovens are prized in the industry for their versatility and ease of use due to forced air technology with no direct heat. 

Dough balls and par-baked crusts perform equally well in conveyor ovens:

  • Crust color is evenly brown, with a darker bottom
  • Crust texture is not quite as crisp as pies prepared in deck ovens, but it has more pull and chew than convection oven crusts
  • Crusts are evenly baked with some blistering 

Rapid Cook Ovens

Rapid cook ovens combine forced air and infrared heating, which makes them easy to operate and ideal for par-baked crusts.

While heat settings and direction can be adjusted to emulate the look and final bake of the other ovens, rapid cook ovens do not uniquely enhance pie characteristics like flavor, texture or crispness. However, they can accommodate a variety of foods other than pizza, like sandwiches or breadsticks, increasing menu flexibility without adding extensive labor.

In pizzerias, an oven is more than a piece of equipment. It defines your business, your pies and your patrons’ overall experience. Make the most of how you choose and use your oven. 

Get even more information about the primary pizza oven types, including a quick-reference chart in our complete guide, How to Select the Right Oven for Your Pizza Operation. Download your free copy now by clicking the button below.

Pizza Ovens eBook

Categories: Performance/Quality, Kitchen Operations

Luke Siedow

Written by Luke Siedow

Culinary Specialist, Alive & Kickin' Pizza Crust