How to Make the Perfect Wood-Fired Pizza
Do you dare to put a spin on your Friday pizza night? With a wood-fired pizza, you can create a smoked, crispy, wood-fire effect just like your Italian-restaurant favorites. So, what makes a wood-fired pizza so tasty and unique? The answer is simple: the oven.
Wood-fire ovens are heated solely by burning wood in the chamber, which captures the heat and hence cooks your delectable pizza to crispy perfection. Occasionally, some wood-fire ovens have an oven space that is separate from the fire chamber itself, but generally they are a one-unit operation. One of the greatest advantages of wood-fire ovens (other than the delicious, smokey effect) is that they have a much faster cooking time than conventional ovens. This is due to the high heat that is stored in the dense brick walls of the cooking chamber which cook the crust very quickly. Radiant heat from the fire also adds a crisping effect, cooking the outside of the pizza first.
Additionally, because the pizza oven should be between 750 and 900-degrees Fahrenheit, which is significantly warmer than a conventional oven, wood-fire ovens have an overall faster cooking time than conventional ovens. In a wood-fire oven, a home-made pizza should only take between 10-15 minutes.
There are certain techniques used to light a wood-fire pizza oven. Avoid using any type of paper, since the ash from the paper can blow around the oven. Always use log wood and kindling. The best kind of wood to use is either oak, maple, ash, beech, or birch; however, oak is probably the safest, easiest to find, and hottest-burning in comparison to other woods. Do not use any form of accelerants such as petrol, kerosene, or paraffin as this can be extremely dangerous.
A common mistake when making a wood-fired pizza is placing the pizza into the oven when the oven is not hot enough. A blazing-hot oven creates the charred and crispy crust most guests love. The most effective way to start a fire with sufficient heat is to use a stack of chimney starter and stack two logs on top. A fire should build up within a couple of minutes of lighting, which will give you enough heat to make several pizzas.
Another important aspect of making the perfect wood-fired pizza is, of course, the dough! Whether store-bought or homemade, making sure you're giving your dough enough time to properly rise before cooking will ensure the perfect texture of crust for your crispy, fire-smoked pizza.
One expert tip, when it comes to preparing your pie for a wood-fire oven, is to build your pizza directly on a pizza peel. A pizza peel is used by bakers to slide large items like loaves of bread, pizzas, pastries, and other baked goods in and out of an oven. By building your pizza directly on the peel, there is no clumsy transfer or loss of toppings when transferring the pizza from the cutting board to the pizza peel. Just be sure to cover the surface of the peel with flour or cornstarch before placing the dough on it in order to prevent sticking.
Lastly, don’t forget to top the pizza sparingly. Over-topping the pizza can weigh the pizza down, lead to easier spills, and create a soggy crust.
Because the wood-fire oven is so hot, once the pizza is placed in the oven it will begin to cook very quickly. The crust will begin to charr on the far side of the pizza within 30 seconds, so it is important to rotate the pie 180° to ensure that the pizza cooks evenly. After the pizza is evenly crisped, lift the pizza off the bottom stone of the oven and lift it up to the top rack to cook in the “dome” of the oven. This area is where all the radiant heat is trapped that will cook the pizza evenly from the inside out. After 10-15 mins, use the pizza peel to slide your pizza out of the oven and “voila!” -- the perfect pizza!
When cooking your wood-fired pizza, it is important to have all the proper tools to cook your pizza to perfection. From Pizza Peels to pans, you can find all of your pizza cooking needs at gatorchef.com. Visit our website, or give us a call at (888) 944-2867 to get information about all your restaurant equipment and supply needs.
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