It’s a marvellous means of cooking used by man for several years, dating way back beyond the Romans era. Archaeologists have found kilns, wood burning ovens, and some other cooking-like instruments in almost each ancient civilisation, along with the evidence of an entire feast of various cuisines available in mass to all. These included all types of hearth bread baked by the bakers unrivalled in skill even now. In modern times and with the availability of tomatoes, wood fired pizza is, of course, the most fasted and traditional foodstuff to be cooked in a wood-fired oven. The wood fired pizza originated from the beautiful and famous region of what’s currently known as Naples, Italy.
Everyone wants to eat a delicious meal. Unfortunately, few people know how to prepare it. Whether you are cooking for your family members, friends or some guests in your home, you need to offer something they will enjoy and even keep the memories. Most importantly, if you are preparing foods for your clients, then you must ensure they are pleased with your meals to keep your business flourishing. You won’t find a tastier or more pleasurable cooking technique than what you can achieve if you use a wood fired oven.
Wood ovens develop a fantastic theatrical experience for your clients, friends or family and more importantly you. The good news is a wood burning oven will pretty much cook anything you want creating a taste unrivalled by any other cooking method.
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There is an entire rafter of different materials and methods for constructing a wood fired pizza ovens. High-quality ovens are made using high insulation levels and superior refractory concrete. Some of the low-cost and most basic ovens are made using basic materials such as mud, clay, chicken wire and don’t have any insulation or the main refractory content.
Low-cost ovens may cook a pizza over time. However, it won’t reach any optimum pizza cooking temperatures of about 400 to 500 degrees Celsius or even be suitable for use on a journey in the mobile units.
The significance to the exact science of how a high-quality pizza oven works trickles down to heat retention level delivered by the amount of insulation and quality of refractory material used during the construction of oven.
Insulation is one of the essential factors when considering an oven to use. If there’s inadequate insulation then the oven will take much longer time to reach the temperature of 400 degrees Celsius (if it’ll reach it at all), will use far a high amount of fuel and will cool down very quickly.
The ovens we use to make our pizza are highly insulated that they reach 400 degrees Celsius in about 30 to 40 minutes regardless of the weather and will remain hot for one or two days, with the exterior of the oven remaining cold to touch.
Wood burning ovens operate in an entirely different manner than any other oven, including a pizza stone in a standard oven, pizza on a grill, a commercial deck oven, or the BBQ.s. The primary difference is that wood-fired oven bakes pizzas three distinct ways simultaneously.
They use conductive heat, reflected heat, and convection heat to bake a decent pizza in approximately 90 seconds. The three significant cooking components always work together in harmony so that the cheese, the crust, the topping the sauce, and the olive oil are all cooked perfectly at the same time.
Convection Heat - Air circulates the pizza oven like any standard room. Except in this situation, the air around the cooking floor is heated up to optimum temperatures of 450 degrees Celsius. The air at the top of a pizza oven is usually super-heated, somewhere around 600 to 900 degrees Celsius. So, this super-hot air tends to trap itself and assists to act like an invisible blanket trapping the "cooler" air of 400 to 500 degrees Celsius. You’ll notice if you raise the pizza to the top of the dome, it cook very rapidly or at times even catch fire.
Radiant/Conductive Heat. - As the pizza oven warms the thermal mass, its walls will absorb the heat from the fire and then radiates it back into the vault of the domes. The floor of any pizza oven serves as a sponge for the heat. The cooking floor of the high-quality commercial pizza oven will have enormous thermal mass; therefore hold heat much more efficiently during cooking and even after the cooking process is over. The high-quality refractory materials used on the Dragon Oven pizza ovens retains and then return the heat up to two days after the initial fire.
Reflective Heat -The flame from a live fire is reflected from dome onto your pizza, thus baking pizza from above, and fusing the oil, cheese, and sauce to an amazingly deep flavour and rich brown colour. In fact, this reflective heat is sufficiently hot to cook a fresh tomato sauce placed on top of the pizza.
The word 'Draft’ refers to the hot air movement which circulates in the exhaust system of your pizza ovens, moving from the oven to the flue system or outside of the building, and carrying with it combustion residues.
On the other hand, the draft is a natural phenomenon. Hot air weighs less than cold air, causing it to rise. In fact, this is the reason higher the temperatures in an exhaust system, the stronger the draft.
It’s also essential to state that the tunnel effect developed by the exhaust system contributes to the high draft effect. That’s why chimneys which are excessively long usually produce an excessive draft, while chimneys which are unusually short will have a small amount of draft.
The following are the common symptoms of the draft problem:
1. A fire which has a tendency to die when the oven door is closed.
2. A pizza oven that fails to heat efficiently.
3. Excessively dirty oven.
One can consider negative pressure as a reverse draft. That’s air will circulate from a chimney towards the interior of a building. In general, negative pressure is usually causes smoking issues. Negative pressure can be a result of either one or a combination of three factors explained below:
1. A vacuum effect in the building. The air in a room is always moving. Cold air moves down, hot air rises. Also, the air can be mechanically expelled outside of the building using air moving device, like air exchanger, a range hood, a bathroom fan, a dryer, etc. Moreover, air goes in and out of the room through windows, doors, cracks, etc. If the air leaves the building without any replacement, it will create a vacuum effect.
So, if the building is highly insulated and one closes all the windows, the building will obtain its air through the easiest alternative route that is usually the exhaust system of your oven. Thus, this develops a negative pressure in your exhaust system. Now, you understand why experts usually recommend that a window is open slightly in the building where the oven is situated. It enables the room to quickly source its air from outside without seeking an alternative path. The vacuum effect can increase when your oven is situated in the basement because your house itself serves as a chimney. Since the hot air will rise to the upper floors, it’ll draw air from the basement of the building. The phenomenon is called the chimney stack effect.
2. A cold chimney. Cold air that’s heavier than hot air tends to go down the chimney and develop the clogging effect. So, this explains why an oven which hasn’t worked for a long period and with a cold chimney will sometimes be difficult to light and even cause smoking problems.
3. The Wind can cause negative pressure. When the building is near a structure whose height surpasses the roof of the building, wind currents can develop a high interference with your chimney, causing negative pressure issues.
A wood fired oven burns wood only; you should not burn any other material. Therefore, you shouldn’t burn waste and some other flammables in a wood fired oven. You can use any kiln or seasoned - dried wood in the pizza oven. However, distinct varieties have more energy yields than others. Never use painted wood, or chemically treated wood.
LOW ENERGY YIELD WOOD: Fir, Spruce, Pine.
MEDIUM ENERGY YIELD WOOD: Silver Birch, Red Maple, Poplar, Alder.
HIGH ENERGY YIELD WOOD: Sugar Maple, Oak, Ash, Beech, Elm.
The wood to be used must have dried for 12-24 months, such that the moisture content (in weight) below 20 percent of the log weight. It’s paramount to remember that even if you cut the wood for 1 or 2 years, it isn’t necessarily dry.
If you keep it in poor conditions, it might even rot instead of drying. The wood used had dried in poor conditions or was very damp causes a high number of problems related to the wood burning stoves and the operation of wood fired ovens. These issues include:
1. Incomplete log combustion.
2. Creosote build-up that causes chimney fires.
3. Low energy yield (low heat).
4. Ignition problems.
Small pieces of wood will dry quickly, all logs exceeding 6 inches (15 centimetres) in diameter should be split. The wood shouldn’t be kept directly on the ground. Air should circulate through the core of logs. You should leave 24 inches (60 centimetres) to 28 inches (70 centimetres) airspace between every row of logs and position it in the sunniest place possible. You need to protect the upper layer of the wood from the element but not the sides.
When the wood fired oven is warmed thoroughly. Place a piece of the split wood parallel to the door on the bed of the red embers. If you achieve the ignition of the wood within 90 seconds from the time you put it in an oven, your wood in dried correctly.
If the combustion takes much longer, your wood is damp or didn’t dry properly. If your wood spits or hisses or vapour escapes at the ends, your wood is freshly cut or soaked. Don’t use this wood in your pizza oven. Massive amounts of creosote could be deposited in the chimney and eventually crack the floor.
Firstly, it’s essential to know how to light an oven without smoking yourself very much. The key is to understand the process and what the fire is telling you about the air supply, fuel and temperature.
Lighting a wood-fired oven is more than lighting a bonfire: it’s where you will prepare the food so the things which you burn matter – no painted or treated bits of wood, no old pallets with the odd nail in. Also, it’s imperative to understand something about how fires work to keep smoke to a minimum. When a wood-fired oven is operating correctly, there’ll be no visible smoke coming from the chimney – just a heat haze.
A new pizza oven should be cured to maintain its quality, only set small fires for the initially four hours of the operation. Ensure that there is enough air circulation while curing the oven. Understand the operating instructions on how to fully cure your particular oven.
Put many rumpled sheets of paper in the centre of your oven chamber (oven dome). Place eight to ten pieces of small dry kindling wood over the paper in the form of a tent. You should never use a chemical product to light the fire. Twist together a few sheets of newspapers to create a torch. Light up the torch and then hold it as close as possible to the mouth of a chimney chamber to warm up the chimney.
Once you initiate the upward draft movement, you’re ready to ignite your oven by kindling wood and the paper in the oven dome. We advise you to monitor this to establish proper combustion.
You should remove ash from your oven after use. Always empty your oven when it’s cold, such as the next few days. Always dispose the ashes in a metal container with a tight lid. Put this container on the ground or a non-combustible floor, far away from any combustible materials, awaiting final disposal. The ash should be put in this box until the cinders have cooled completely.
CAUTION: When using with your oven, it’s always necessary and advisable to wear the right clothing at all times, to prevent injury. Always be careful when operating your oven.
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