You’ve discovered wood-fired ovens whilst enjoying your vacations in Europe and you may even revel in the food theatre that grilling with a wood oven creates in your nearby pizzeria,but how does a wood fired pizza oven function? Talk to us at Valoriani
Pizza ovens operate on the foundation of applying three forms of heat energy for grilling:
1. Direct heat from the combustion and flames
2. Radiated heat coming down from the dome,which is at its best when the fire has burned for a while until the dome has turned white and is soot-free
3. Convected heat,which comes up from the floor and from the ambient air
Grilling with a wood-fired pizza oven is actually much simpler than you may think. All you really need to do is to light a good fire in the centre of the oven and then allow it to heat up both the hearth of the oven and the inner dome. The heat you develop from your fire will be absorbed by the oven and that heat will then be radiated or convected,to allow food to cook.
Once you have your oven dome and floor up to temp,you just push the fire to one side,applying a metal peel,and start to cook,applying real wood as the heat source,rather than the gas or electricity you may usually rely on.
Of course,there are no temp dials or controls,other than the fire,so the addition of real wood is the equivalent of whacking up the temp dial. If you don’t feed the fire,you allow the temp to drop.
How hot you allow your oven to become really depends on what you wish to cook in your wood-fired oven. For pizza,you need a temperature of around 400-450 ° C; if you wish to apply another grilling technique,such as roasting,you need to do that at a temperature of around 200-300 ° C. There are different ways to do this.
You could primarily get the oven up to 450 ° C and then allow the temp to go down to that which you need,or As an alternative,you could just bring the oven up to the needed temp by applying less real wood.
As you are applying convected rather than radiated heat for roasting,it is not as essential to get the stones as hot. An additional way to alter the amount of heat reaching the food in a very hot oven is to apply tin foil,to reflect some of the heat away.
Heat created within a wood-fired oven should be well-retained,if your oven is built of refractory brick and has great insulation. To cook the best pizza,you need to have an even temp in your oven,both top and bottom. The style of the Valoriani makes this easy,but this is also an area where the quality of the oven will have a big effect.
Some ovens may need you to leave embers on the oven floor,to try to heat it up adequately. Others have very little or no insulation,so you will have to feed the fire much more. But that means it will then have too much direct heat and won’t cook top and bottom evenly.
An additional thing to watch is,if the floor of the oven isn’t storing heat,you may need to reheat if before grilling every single pizza– a real irritation. The message here is to always look for an oven built from the very best refractory materials and designed by craftsmens,like a Valoriani.
So,taking that into consideration,we’re going to change the title of this blog. The guidance above isn’t so much about how real wood fired pizza ovens work,but how the best wood-fired ovens work. If you go through a few ovens before steering a course towards a Valoriani, that’s something you’ll come to appreciate.