Have you ever wondered why the pizzas cooked in your conventional gas or electric oven don’t turn out like those from a high-quality pizza shop? The crust is either nice and crispy on the outside and soft and doughy in the middle. Or it’s perfect in the middle and blackened on the edges. It can be so frustrating.
I know what you’re thinking; what does it matter which type of oven I use as long as I get it hot enough? I mean, heat is heat, right? Well, not exactly.
In an oven, your pizza is cooked using three different types of heat:
- Conduction: The heat from the floor of your oven.
- Convection: The circulation of hot air that passes over the top of your pizza.
Note that in a wood-fired oven this is due to cold air being drawn in through the front opening of your oven and hot air being expelled through the flue, or exhaust pipe. In a conventional oven, convection is created artificially using fans.
- Reflection: The heat being reflected from the roof and walls of your oven.
Cooking a crisp, tasty pizza is all about getting these three sources of heat in balance. The design of wood-fired oven makes them far more effective at maintaining balance than a conventional oven. The dome shape of a wood-fired oven allows the hot air to circulate more efficiently, as well as reflect the heat back down onto the food more evenly. In addition, the heat from the stone floor of the oven is transferred directly to the pizza.
In a conventional oven, convection may be induced using fans, but it’s not as efficient as the natural method.
The other secret to cooking pro-pizzas is to do it fast! And that means getting things hot! Quick baking at high temperatures results in a thin, crispy crust cooked throughout and tasty flavours in the toppings that are lost if cooked for too long. Most conventional ovens aren’t capable of producing the high temperatures [300 - 350°C] that are required to cook a pizza in the 90 – 150 seconds that produces the best results.
So there you have it; great tasting pizzas are both a balancing act and an all-out heat blast, which is exactly what a wood-fired oven is designed to achieve. Keep in mind that this concept also applies to an infinite number of other dishes, including roast chicken, roast veggies, roast lamb…in fact, roast anything in your pizza oven, even mussels and oysters!
What do you think? Are you making pro-pizzas in your wood-fired oven? Are you unhappy with the results from your conventional oven? Leave your comments below.