Gas powered ovens have made baking and cooking dishes – especially pizza – a lot easier and faster. With just a flick of a switch, you can heat it up in just minutes. But it will not give you the extra smoky and aromatic taste that a wood fired pizza oven provides. Although it takes a lot longer to fire up this type of oven, the results are better than cooking in a gas powered one. So how long do you really have to take to fire up a wood fired oven?
Place the fire starters and hardwood
Make sure to use odourless and non-toxic fire starters, as they will affect the taste and aroma of the food. You will only need one or two pieces, as well as about eight sticks of dry kindling. About two to three pieces of hardwood such as oak and birch are all you need to start a fire. You can use a torch to start the fire if you don’t want to spend so much time lighting it with a lighter.
Add more wood
When the fire has caught, add two to three more pieces of wood so that the fire can evenly reach the centre and front of the oven, but without lapping out of the oven. As the fire continues to burn, add some more wood to establish a steady fire. After twenty minutes, you should notice the top of the oven dome turning white and continuing to extend outwards to both sides of the oven. Once the inside of the oven has turned white, it is indicative that the desired temperature has been reached.
Ready to cook
About 45 minutes after starting the fire, the oven should be ready for cooking. You can now put the pizza to be cooked, for about 3 to 5 minutes. For other cooking techniques such as baking and roasting, wait for the fire to burn out and let the oven cool for a few minutes before putting in bread, chicken and other food.
Positioning the wood to the side
There is a good reason why wood should be placed on the sides of the oven and not at the back. Besides distributing heat to the centre of the oven evenly, you can also see the pizza or any other food you are cooking better when the fire is on the sides.
Patience is key when cooking using a wood fired oven. Clean up can also be a chore; the ashes and embers should be got rid of before the next use. The chimney – although not required to be cleaned every time the oven is used – should also be maintained to ensure the smoke comes out freely.