Wood-fired pizza ovens are unique, and some traditional oven rules don’t apply. Chef Luke from Alive & Kickin’ Pizza Crust is here to share tips and tricks on how to use a wood-fired pizza oven.
TRANSCRIPT – Tips and Tricks for Using a Wood-Fired Oven
A wood-fired oven has a large stone deck inside. The heat from a wood fire heats the deck, and pizzas are placed directly on the deck to cook.
The stone is incredibly hot, and getting it to the appropriate temperature requires a little more effort as compared to conventional ovens, as does tending the pizza during cooking.
Here are some of our best practices for using a wood-fired oven.
1. Start oven 2-3 hours early
Unlike a conventional oven, a wood-fired oven doesn’t have an “on” switch. You need some prep time. You want the wood to be burning 2 to 3 hours before using the oven so the stone is in the temperature range you want. Your dough type dictates the temperature. Some ovens are good at 500°F for the dough; others need to be up between 900°F-1000°
2. Use a simple hardwood
A pine or other soft wood may release creosote or other toxic chemicals into the air and your pizza. You should use a nice, simple hardwood for distinct flavor and really good pizza.
3. Place pizza close to flame
Use your best judgment in getting the pizza close enough to the flame to cook, but not burn. It’s important to get the pizza near the heat source right away so it lifts and so the bottom of the crust chars a little and isn't doughy.
4. Rotate pizza during baking
During the cook time, use a peel to keep turning the pizza so it gets brown on all sides. A conventional oven has forced air blowing around for even baking, but wood-fired ovens only have one heat source coming from the flame. Rotation is key to keep the pizza from burning or from being uncooked on one side.
5. Lift pizza to the dome
Once the pizza is fully cooked on the stone deck, use a peel to raise it into the oven dome for a few seconds. The dome has a lot of heat and provides a nice, light char and crispy edge on the pizza top.
Baking pizza in a wood-fired oven can be challenging, but with a little bit of practice you can make a perfect pizza every time. Learn more about wood-fired and other common oven types in our eBook, The Best Crust Types for Your Pizzeria’s Oven. Click the button below to download your free copy.