Learn how pizza ovens work…
There’s something so satisfying and almost romantic about making a pizza with your own fair hands. Cooking it in your own pizza oven and sharing your creations with family and friends in your own back garden. If you’re thinking of buying a pizza oven and you’re fascinated about how they work; this is the article for you! The fire alone doesn’t cook the pizza. It’s all about the unique shape of the pizza oven. How it’s constructed, and the materials used that retain the heat and serve you with that famous charred, crisp crust with delicious, bubbling toppings, every time!
There are many different types of pizza oven, built from all different kinds of materials. But it’s not just the construction of the oven that differs. There’s also how the ovens are ‘fired’ to consider, i.e. the type of fuel used. There are gas pizza ovens, traditional wood fired pizza ovens, wood pellet ovens and dual fuel ovens, all available to buy.
So, with such an array of choice, it can be difficult to know which is best.
Here at The Pizza Oven Shop, we always recommend wood fired pizza ovens wherever possible, as they give the best flavour to the final product, whether that be pizza, roasting joints, casseroles, or anything else you wish to cook in your pizza oven.
The smoke that the wood imparts on the crust gives a unique flavour only associated with a wood fired pizza. It adds a caramelisation to the crust and the ingredients on top. The high heat the ovens can reach and maintain also gives you a superfast cooking time, often around 60-90 seconds!
But today, we want to get geeky, and discuss the science behind how pizza ovens work. So, without further ado, let’s dive in!
It’s all in the oven
As we mentioned above, the fire alone doesn’t cook the pizza. It’s all about how the materials of the oven retain the high temperatures needed to give that perfect crisp finish. Traditional pizza ovens are domed in shape, which are super effective in retaining the ‘hover temperature’. This is essentially the retention temperature of the oven in between the need to add more wood.
The dome shape is emulated even in smaller, portable pizza ovens such as the Ooni range of ovens, Igneus home range and the Gozney Roccbox. Although the insulating properties of these ovens isn’t as great as larger, static ovens. The smaller size allows for extremely quick heat up times.
Wood fired ovens retain their heat for periods of around 20-30 minutes without the needing to add more fuel. This is largely down to the insulating properties of the materials used to construct the ovens. Temperatures of approximately 400-450c are considered to be optimum for the perfect cook. However, pizza ovens can reach temperatures much higher than this.
The importance of firebricks
It’s not just the overall temperature of the oven that contributes to the cooking of your pizza. A large factor is also down to the stone or firebricks which make up the floor of the pizza oven. The stone in portable ovens are often made from high quality cordierite stone. This can reach and maintain exceptionally high temperatures.
On certain Igneus models you can upgrade to Professional Firebricks. The stone or firebricks are important to allow for the base of the pizza to cook quickly from below. Allowing the base to crispen while the internal temperature and flames are working their magic from above.
It’s this combination of heat sources that allows for 60 second cooking times and the perfect mix of crisp, fluffy base. Having your pizza stone up to the desired temperature is key in avoiding a ‘soggy’ pizza.
It’s a common mistake we hear of when people first get their ovens, assuming that as the fire is raging in the oven, that it must be ready to launch. However, ensuring the stone or ‘floor’ is up to a temperature of around 400-450c before launching, will give you better heat transfer and an overall more consistent finish to your pizzas.
Fire, Fire, Fire!
Let’s be honest, one of the main reasons we all love pizza ovens is because we get to play with fire, safely of course! As it happens, the flames do play a huge part in creating not only the heat (obviously!), but also the caramelised, charred topping we all know and associate with proper Neapolitan pizza.
The dome shape, again, has a lot to do with how the flames are drawn up and over the top of the oven. The chimney allows for smoke to escape, but also helps in pulling those flames right across the roof of the oven. This is imperative to allow that combination of heat sources we discussed earlier to work to full effect.
We hope you enjoyed our somewhat geeky explanation of how pizza ovens work. To be honest, irrespective of whether you opt for a large, built-in oven, or a portable pizza oven you can take camping or to the beach, the science behind how they work is pretty much the same.