We’re a nation gradually waking up to the idea that our gardens are an extension of our homes. Not only can they become havens of peace and relaxation, they can also provide you with sublime cooking experiences. A pizza oven cooks a pizza in minutes and with a delicious taste. Full of artisanal charm and providing your guests with hours of entertainment as they make and cook their own dinner, it is no wonder these products are growing in popularity across the UK.
Ok, it does take a bit of know-how and the chances are it’ll take a couple of ‘enthusiastically well-done’ pizzas before you perfect your method. Here is a guide to using a wood-fired pizza oven.
Fuelling your pizza oven
The first step is to gather your fuel. You are aiming to cook with the heat of embers, not the flames or smoke of your fuel. We recommend kiln-dried hardwood, which has a very low moisture content. Smoky fires are often caused by damp fuel, where the fire’s energy is spent boiling the moisture and sap out of the wood. This results in a cooler fire and a lot of smoke, which isn’t very nice to cook with, and will probably take a lot longer to get to temperature.
To make things easier, select some fire logs, a manmade briquette that burns hot and cleanly. The Pizazz Pizza Logs, made for pizza ovens. Check them out in the video below!
The ideal temperature for cooking pizzas seems to vary between products. Typically you will need to give your pizza oven at least one hour to get up to temperature. Many ovens come with a thermometer built in, but if not we recommend buying one. A thermometer will give you an idea when best to start cooking. From experience and research, 300ᴼC – 450ᴼC seems a good heat to cook with, but it will take a couple of sacrificial pizzas to figure out your sweet spot in the early days.
There are two main types of pizza oven. One type cooks on a stone with the fire at the back of the oven. The other cooks on a plate above the flames. Once up to temperature, if cooking on a stone in the oven, you need to push the fire and embers to the back of the pizza oven. This way the heat goes up and over and then out of the oven. The trick is to evenly cook the pizza, so rotate it with the pizza peel. Avoid cooking the base quicker than the toppings!
When you are ready you will be able to cook pizza in about two to three minutes, keeping your guests happy and fed. What’s more when you have finished eating, your pizza oven makes a great source of heat once the sun goes down.
But don’t stop there! Any food that requires base heat taste delicious after being cooked in a pizza oven too. By using a raised grill you can cook meat such as steaks, but be careful about dripping fats as they can stain the stone underneath.
If you have any questions or advice to add, please get in touch or comment below.