How to Use a Pizza Oven: A Guide for Beginners
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To make a perfectly cooked Neapolitan-style pizza, you would need to learn how to use a pizza oven. A wood-fired oven is the best choice for this; it would add the smoked flavor that can only be found on authentic pizza.
Knowing how to set up and cook in a pizza oven is something that even beginners in the kitchen can learn. The job is quick and easy, and all you have to do is follow simple steps. Before we tell you about that, let us first talk about why pizza ovens are the best.
Why You Use a Pizza Oven?
Pizza baked in a gas or electric oven will probably taste okay, but that’s all you get from it. Look at it from any angle, but store-bought pizza will never be better than homemade ones. The difference in taste and the crunch you get can only be achieved by wood-fire pizza ovens.
Why? That’s because pizza ovens are designed to produce temperatures that are high enough for the dough and the toppings to be cooked up to the mark. What’s more, the heat generated is also evenly distributed, resulting in that golden-brown, crispy crust and perfectly cooked toppings.
Pizza ovens can also be used to cook other things. Many are known to use it for baking Italian bread (focaccia), roast meat, and cook poultry. Simply adjust the temperature settings, and you’re all set to make the perfect dish!
Curing Your Pizza Oven
Before you can start baking your pizza, you first have to set up your pizza oven. Don’t worry; even if you’re new at this, you can easily cure your pizza oven by following our simple guide.
As you install and set up your pizza oven, its interiors and components will catch moisture. If you suddenly turn the heat up, this moisture will evaporate and become steam. Unfortunately, this steam can cause cracks and fissures to appear in the oven. To overcome this, you would need to learn how to cure your pizza oven.
In curing a pizza oven, you would need to perform a series of lighting fires. Doing this will gradually elevate the temperature instead of a sudden hot outburst inside the pizza oven. The curing allows the temperature inside the pizza oven to increase from 50C to 300C.
Start with lighting a fire in the center of the oven. Make that it’s the center. Why is it important? If you place the source in the center, the heat is distributed evenly, causing the convection currents to transport heat over the entire surface of the pizza oven.Typical cooking temperatures are very hot between 500° and 600°.
How Does the Heat Inside Cook the Pizza?
Pizza ovens produce elevated temperatures that work to distribute heat evenly inside the oven. If you know how this works, you will also understand what other kinds of delicious gourmet dishes you can cook in your pizza oven.
While you need even distribution of heat, you also have to make sure that there is enough heat stored in the refractory. This heat is then released after calculated intervals as the cooking process progresses. A pizza oven makes use of convection, conduction, and radiation heat transfer to cook the best pizza.
How to Use a Pizza Oven
Before you start lighting the wood for your pizza oven, make sure that the wood you are using is clean. Many experts recommend using dry, seasoned wood for this purpose. In this way, you get to achieve even more authentic flavors. Start with softwood. After the fire has started blazing, you can switch to hardwood. Hardwood maintains the fire.
Once you have lit your pizza oven, now we will come to the last few steps that will finally set the course for your taste buds to experience the crispy pepperoni pizza that you have been craving for.
- When you start a fire inside the oven, the door should be left open partially.
- For an initial kick of fire, you can make use of crumpled newspaper or fire starters. However, the best way is to take a pizza paddle and prepare a fire on it. After that, you can light it and carefully place it in the center of your pizza oven.
- Once you see that the fire is stable, add more hardwood to keep it blazing. The walls inside will turn black due to the smoke and resin that come from the wood.
- As you reach the 350C mark, the inside of the refractory dome will start turning grey. Gradually, the insides of the pizza oven will become entirely grey.
- When you notice that this grey color has spread over 75% of the pizza oven, take your embers and spread them all over the oven floor. This will work to conserve a great amount of heat in the cooking base.
- Then, wait for the interiors of your pizza oven to turn completely grey. Once you can see progress, move the fire source to one side and get rid of the embers from the oven floor using a natural fiber brush.
- Now comes the time to check the most important aspect of the pizza oven, the temperature. This is the only key aspect that will help you to achieve a perfectly cooked pizza when you are learning how to use a pizza oven.
Temperature: Too High or Too Low?
For testing the temperature, we will tell you about a very simple method. Toss a handful of flour across the base of the oven. If the flour turns into flames and starts burning within 10 seconds or less, the base is too hot. This means that your pizza dough will overcook and burn in no time. To get rid of this, remove embers, which will bring down the temperatures.
To know the ideal condition of your pizza oven, the flour should become brown within 10 seconds. Once you achieve this, the oven is ready to produce your Neapolitan-style pizza.
We know this might have enhanced your pizza cravings; who doesn’t like a hot pizza straight out of the oven? Get your pizza oven now if you do not have one yet. If you do, then turn on your pizza ovens immediately and get started with producing the perfectly cooked pizzas right away.
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